World ORT’s new Director General and CEO, Avi Ganon has outlined his vision of raising the organisation’s profile to one that matches its past and present impact on the Jewish world.
Addressing staff on his first day at the organisation’s administrative centre in London, Mr Ganon said:
World ORT deserves to enjoy a level of recognition that’s in line with its history and legacy. Some people describe us as the ministry of education of the Jewish world, so we’re going to work hard – with a smile and with a lot of energy – to see that it enjoys its rightful place among the community’s organisations.”
Mr Ganon formally assumed the position on September 1, becoming the 13th person to hold the top professional position of the world’s largest Jewish education NGO since co-founder Professor Nikolai Bakst in 1880.
Since 2011, he has led the development of World ORT’s operational wing in Israel, World ORT Kadima Mada. The organisation was founded in 2007 with just three employees and a budget of NIS 20 million ($5.7 million); now it employs 1,200 people and has a budget of more than NIS 180 million ($51.2 million). It is an established partner of national and local authorities and major companies in raising the level of STEM education and reducing the educational gaps between the country’s social and geographical peripheries.
Previously, Mr Ganon led World ORT operations in the Former Soviet Union and before that he was responsible for Israeli educational programmes in the post-Soviet states. He also served as First Secretary at the Israeli embassy in Moscow and as Head of the Israeli Cultural Centre in Moscow.
Announcing Mr Ganon’s appointment last month, World ORT President Dr Conrad Giles said it was an exciting moment for the organisation:
Over the last 10 years Avi has demonstrated extraordinary leadership, imagination and drive in establishing our affiliate in Israel. I know that he will be successful in expanding World ORT’s activities in all our regions.”
Dario Werthein, the Chair of World ORT’s Board of Trustees, added: “Avi’s dynamism in expanding World ORT Kadima Mada speaks volumes for his ability. I know that he will bring the same skills to his position at World ORT. I look forward to working with him closely.”
Mr Ganon said that the instability arising from growing social and economic polarisation had made education society’s top priority.
“Only through an education which is attuned to the demands of the 21st century can we raise new generations with the skill and confidence to thrive,” he said.
“That is precisely what World ORT’s emphasis on scientific, technological and ethical education provides. It is a tremendous honour to follow in the footsteps of people like Aaron Singalowski, Max Braude, Joseph Harmatz and Robert Singer, who have led World ORT to groundbreaking achievements in Jewish communities around the world. I am grateful to the leadership of World ORT for giving me the opportunity to lead this great organisation on the next stage of its 137-year-old mission of Educating for Life.”
Like Dr Giles before him, Mr Ganon thanked Chief Operating Officer Dan Green for his work as acting Director General and CEO over the past three months.