Founding International Board of Governors Chairman Edgar M. Bronfman (left) congratulates incoming Board of Governors Chairman Randall Kaplan at the December 2009 Board meeting.
Founding Hillel International Board of Governors Chairman Edgar M. Bronfman turned over his gavel to Greensboro, N.C., businessman and community leader Randall Kaplan, 53, at a Board meeting in New York City on December 2. As the new chairman, Kaplan will take responsibility for the operation and growth of the Board. Bronfman will continue his leadership in the role of founding chairman and will visit Hillel campuses, recruit individuals to the Board of Governors and serve as an ambassador for the global Hillel enterprise.
(Read the column "Hillel’s Open Tent Helping to Open Minds" by Bronfman and Kaplan in JTA.)
“I am honored to take on this great responsibility,” said Kaplan. “Edgar is a catalyst for Hillel’s renaissance. Along with his founding co-chairs, Lynn Schusterman and Michael Steinhardt, his ongoing leadership created a vibrant, dynamic Hillel that is enriching the lives of tens of thousands of Jewish college students around the world. With his continued guidance and participation, I look forward to building on this considerable foundation.”
“I am quite proud of what Hillel has become in the last 15 years,” says Bronfman. “Randall is one of the best examples of the new generation of leaders that Hillel has to offer our community, and I am confident that he will lead the Board of Governors to great achievement.”
Hillel President Wayne L. Firestone added: “Edgar is an inspiring role model, as well as a valuable partner and a cherished friend. Likewise, I have developed a personal and professional admiration for Randall during his many years of involvement with Hillel, including having served as the Chairman of Hillel’s Board of Directors. The Board of Governors truly has been placed in steady and skilled hands.”
“Edgar’s contribution to Hillel’s rebirth cannot be overstated,” says Beatrice S. Mandel, chair of the Board of Directors of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, the organization’s governing body. “We have all benefited from his wisdom, friendship and guidance. We are grateful that Randall has agreed to take on this new mantle of leadership. He is a talented and worthy successor.”
Hillel’s International Board of Governors is comprised of over 60 prominent business leaders and philanthropists from around the world who are involved in Hillel as benefactors and volunteers. The men and women who are on the board often support local Hillel foundations and other large-scale Hillel initiatives.
Kaplan, the owner and CEO of Capsule Group, LLC, has been a longstanding Hillel and community leader in North Carolina and internationally. Mr. Kaplan joined his parents, Leonard and Tobee Kaplan, on the Hillel International Board of Governors in 1999 and served as chairman of the Board of Directors of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, the body that sets the organization’s policy, from 2004 until 2006.
The Kaplan family is devoted to Hillel and to the greater Jewish community. Kaplan’s wife, Kathy Manning, is the chair of the Jewish Federations of North America. The couple resides in Greensboro with their three children, ages 23, 20 and 17.
Kaplan currently sits on the Board of Directors of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and is a former member of the Board of Directors of AIPAC. He is also actively involved in the Greensboro Jewish Community, and currently serves on the boards of the Greensboro Jewish Foundation and Greensboro Jewish Federation; and is a prior board member of B'nai Shalom Day School and Beth David Synagogue.
Kaplan is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Michigan Law School. He began his legal career in 1981, serving as a judicial clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, after which he practiced corporate and banking law at the firm of Caplin & Drysdale in Washington, D.C.
In 1987, Kaplan returned to Greensboro and entered the family business, Kay Chemical Company, a leading supplier of cleaning chemical programs to the fast-food industry. Kay was acquired by Ecolab, Inc. in 1995. Kaplan remained as president of Kay until 1999 when he left to pursue new business ventures and greater public service.
Kaplan has served on the boards of many local and state civic and non-profit organizations. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina – Greensboro and serves on the Boards of the United Way of Greater Greensboro (past-Chair) and the Greensboro Partnership.
THE BRONFMAN LEGACY
The creation of Hillel’s International Board of Governors under the leadership of Edgar M. Bronfman in 1994 was one of a series of dramatic steps that ushered in a bright new period in Hillel’s history as it transitioned to an independent agency. Working closely with then-President Richard M. Joel, Bronfman raised Hillel’s profile on campuses, among North American Jewish organizations, and globally.
Bronfman has been a hands-on chairman, personally traveling to over 100 campuses in North America and abroad, meeting with students, community members and university presidents. He joined with Hillel’s presidents to recruit dozens of leading philanthropists to the Board of Governors. Bronfman also was deeply involved in Hillel’s expansion to Latin America and its growth in Israel. In 2005, Hillel presented Bronfman with its Renaissance Award, the organization’s highest honor.
Bronfman attained legendary success in business and Jewish leadership. Formerly CEO of the Seagram Company Ltd., Bronfman also led the World Jewish Congress where he advocated for Israel, Soviet Jewry and restitution of insurance claims for Holocaust survivors. His foundation, The Samuel Bronfman Foundation, which was named in memory of Bronfman’s father, supports Hillel and other organizations committed to inspiring a renaissance of Jewish life.
In 1999, President Clinton recognized Mr. Bronfman’s philanthropic efforts by awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest civilian honor. Mr. Bronfman has also received the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur by the government of France and the Justice Louis D. Brandeis Award of the 85th National Convention of the Zionist Organization of America. In addition, Mr. Bronfman holds honorary doctoral degrees from various institutions of higher learning, including Tel Aviv University, New York University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Williams College.
Born in 1929 in Montreal, Canada, to the late Saidye Rosner Bronfman and the late Samuel Bronfman, Mr. Bronfman became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1959. Mr. Bronfman lives in New York City with his wife, Jan Aronson. He has seven children and 23 grandchildren.