Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at AJWS

By acting on our shared Jewish values and commitment to universal human rights, AJWS is dedicated to being an organization—and a community—that welcomes everyone. We know that our strength lies in our diversity, across races, religions, cultures, ethnicities, classes, origins, sexual orientations, gender identities, ages, abilities and the spectrum of neurodiversity. We strive to create a fully-inclusive, anti-racist, multicultural organization where all people can shine.

At AJWS, we are guided by Emma Lazarus’s powerful words: “Until we are all free, none of us is free.” We recognize that working toward the liberation of the most marginalized peoples liberates us all—and this philosophy drives us not only in the 17 countries we serve, but also within our own walls.

As we live our Jewish values as an organization, rooted in the belief of b’tselem Elohim—that each one of us has inherent and infinite value—we have embarked on a journey to shift our consciousness from within. Anchored by the philosophy and practice of antiracism, and through learning from diverse teachers and one another, we seek to ensure that AJWS is an organization that is both fully Jewish and fully inclusive and multicultural. We believe that our internal culture must truly reflect our mission— and that in order to dismantle systemic inequity and pursue justice around the world, we must do the same within our organization and within ourselves.

“My Jewishness and my Blackness are deeply intertwined. The Jewish values of welcoming the stranger and pursuing justice for the most vulnerable, values that drew me to American Jewish World Service and motivated me to become a trustee at this organization, also fuel my activism for racial justice.”

—Gamal J. Palmer
AJWS Trustee and Global Diversity and Inclusion Specialist

How is AJWS becoming more diverse, equitable and inclusive?

Since 2017, we have invested deeply in an effort to prioritize Diversity, Equity and Inclusion among our staff, our Board of Trustees, our grantee organizations and our vast community of supporters around the world. We’re taking the following steps to ensure that AJWS is a place where all people feel welcomed in their full humanity:

  • Developing standardized hiring practices that incorporate anti-bias practices, building DEI values into a team member’s experience at AJWS from the very beginning.
  • Recruiting new staff members, in the United States and globally, who represent the wide diversity of identities and experiences—so our team best reflects the communities we serve.
  • Educating the global AJWS team about how bias, cultural stigmas and structural inequality can affect our attitudes and behaviors in the workplace, and taking steps to identify, acknowledge and overcome these challenges.
  • Promoting policies and practices that ensure true equity among all staff at AJWS, fostering an environment of respect and equality where everyone works together towards the same core mission.
  • Cultivating a culture of empowerment, learning, accountability and transparency, creating a workplace where all people can feel welcomed and accepted.

Land Acknowledgment

AJWS is headquartered on Lenapehoking, Lenape Land, unceded land in what is now called New York City. AJWS acknowledges the genocide and forced displacement of Indigenous Peoples, during the colonial and neocolonial eras. AJWS seeks to learn from the Lenape communities that continue to contribute to the vibrancy of this city and care for the land and waterways as sacred.

AJWS’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work will continue to grow as our organization evolves — and this page will be a living record of that progress.

If you’d like to learn more about AJWS’s commitment to DEI, please contact Kristen Kendrick, AJWS’s Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at DEI@ajws.org.