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Wexner Foundation

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Title: Wexner Foundation  
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Subject: Wexner, Center for Public Leadership, Larry Greenfield, Gilah Kletenik, Seth M. Siegel
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Wexner Foundation

The Wexner Foundation is a charitable organization designed to enhance Jewish leadership founded by Leslie Wexner, CEO of Limited Brands and his wife, Abigail Wexner in Columbus, Ohio. There are three core leadership programs: the Heritage Program for North American Jewish volunteers; the Graduate Fellowship for students pursuing a graduate degree in the rabbinate, cantorate, or Jewish studies; and an Israel Fellowship which funds Israeli public officials for a master's degree in Public Administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.In addition to the core leadership programs, the Wexner Foundation supports other Jewish charities on a local, national, and international level.


  • History 1
  • Core leadership programs 2
  • Other philanthropies that the Wexner Foundation supports 3
  • Alumni of the Wexner Foundation programs 4
  • References 5
  • See also 6
  • External links 7


The Wexner Foundation was founded in 1984 by Leslie Wexner, CEO of Limited Brands and his wife, Abigail Wexner. Leslie and Abigail developed the foundation to promote Jewish leadership around the world and specifically strengthen Jewish leadership in North America and Israel. The foundation’s goal was to help Jewish professionals, volunteers, and Israeli public officials strengthen Jewish communities. There are three programs within the Wexner Foundation designed to accomplish this goal.

The first of the three core programs was founded in 1985. Leslie Wexner and Rabbi Herbert A. Friedman, the former CEO of the National United Jewish Appeal, established the Wexner Heritage Program. This program’s mission statement, according to the Wexner Foundation website, is “to educate Jewish communal leaders in the history, thought, traditions and contemporary challenges of the Jewish people.”[1]

In 1988, the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program was founded by the Wexner Foundation. It awards scholarships to 20 exceptional individuals in North America who wish to obtain degrees in Jewish education, Jewish leadership, rabbinical studies, or cantorate studies. The mission for this program, according to the Wexner Foundation website, is to “to encourage promising candidates to successfully meet the challenges of professional Jewish leadership in the North American Jewish community.”[2]

The Wexner Israel Fellowship Program was created in 1989. It is a partnership between the Wexner Foundation and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The program annually selects up to 10 Israeli public officials and/or nonprofit leaders to participate in leadership seminars while they pursue a mid-career Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree at the Kennedy School. The goal of this program, according to the Wexner Foundation website, is “to provide Israel's next generation of public leaders with advanced training in public management and leadership development, thus enhancing the quality of democracy and the institutional vitality of Israel's public sector.”[3]

The Wexner Foundation headquarters are located in New Albany, Ohio. Smaller Wexner Foundation offices can be found in New York City, Israel, and at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The president of the Wexner Foundation is Larry S Moses.

Core leadership programs

The Wexner Foundation consists of three core leadership programs: Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program, Wexner Israel Fellowship Program, and the Wexner Heritage Program.

The Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program financially supports graduate students planning a career related to Judaism. The program selects 20 students who wish to become a rabbi, hazzan (cantor), or Jewish professional. Wexner Graduate Fellowships are given to students who are strongly committed to the Jewish community, have excellent grades, and show potential to become leaders. Each student selected receives $20,000.00 each year for up to three years to finance their education. Each student’s scholarship is dependent upon his or her grades and achievement. In addition, each Wexner Graduate Fellowship member participates in annual institutes where leadership seminars are designed to enhance the skills of emerging Jewish professionals. Graduate Fellowship Alumni continue meeting and building a network throughout their careers.[4]

The Wexner Israel Fellowship Program is partnership between Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and is housed at the Kennedy School's Center for Public Leadership. The Wexner Israel Fellowship Program pays all expenses associated for each participant including tuition, book fees, travel fees, etc. The Wexner Foundation also grants each individual a generous living stipend. These public officials must meet certain requirements set by the Wexner Foundation in order to participate in the program. These requirements are generally 5 years of experience working with the Israeli public, proficiency in English, and demonstrating leadership potential. The Wexner Foundation hopes to improve the caliber of public leadership in all sectors of Israeli society. At Harvard, the fellows are part of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program. Participants must also attend leadership institutes sponsored by the Wexner Foundation throughout the year. After the program, the Israeli public officials return to Israel and serve in high government positions such as the Israeli Defense Forces. Alumni activities are held throughout the year in Israel.[5]

The Wexner Heritage Program focuses on helping volunteer leaders in Jewish communities throughout North America. The program intends to strengthen Jewish values and establish these values in the community. It is a two-year program that consists of 36 seminars held in the local community and three summer institutes including one institute in Israel. All travel and associated expenses are paid for by the Wexner Foundation in partnership with local communities. The seminars focus mainly on four areas: traditions of the Jewish people, Jewish history, contemporary Jewish thought, and contemporary issues facing the Jewish community today. To become a participant in the Wexner Heritage Program, candidates must be nominated by their community. The participant must demonstrate commitment to the Jewish people through personal and/or professional leadership. After the program, the alumni are encouraged to continue their Jewish study and to exercise Jewish leadership locally, nationally or globally.[6]

Center for Public Leadership: The Wexner Foundation also helped establish and continues to support the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.[7]

Other philanthropies that the Wexner Foundation supports

The Wexner Foundation also donates funds to other charities. The Foundation specifically donates to Jewish charities in Central Ohio. However, it does contribute money to United States and Israeli charities.

Central Ohio philanthropies supported by the Wexner Foundation

United States philanthropies supported by the Wexner Foundation

Israel philanthropies supported by the Wexner Foundation

Alumni of the Wexner Foundation programs

Many alumni of the Wexner Foundation's core leadership programs are successful and influential Jewish people in modern society.

  •, an organization created to reduce world hunger.
  • Lila Corwin Berman PhD is writing a book entitled Jewish Missionaries: How Jews Presented Themselves to America. It discusses how American Jewish people understand their identity. She is a Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Young Historian, an award given by the Center for Jewish History.


  1. ^ "Wexner Heritage Program". Retrieved Jan. 26, 2011
  2. ^ "Wexner Graduate Fellows/Davidson Scholars". Retrieved Jan.26, 2011
  3. ^ "Wexner Israel Fellowship". Retrieved Jan.26, 2011
  4. ^ "Wexner Graduate Fellows/Davidson Scholars". Retrieved Jan.26, 2011
  5. ^ "Wexner Israel Fellowship". Retrieved Jan.26, 2011
  6. ^ "Wexner Heritage Program". Retrieved Jan. 26, 2011
  7. ^ "Harvard University's Center for Public Leadership". Retrieved Jan.26, 2011

See also

External links

  • The Wexner Foundation Homepage
  • Wexner Israel Fellowship at Harvard Kennedy School
  • The Limited Brands
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