Nancy Kaufman

b. 1951

Nancy K. Kaufman is a distinguished public servant, advocate, and non-profit leader with a rich history of community organizing and social justice work. She currently operates a strategic consulting and coaching practice, following her tenure as CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) from 2011 to 2019. Previously, Kaufman served as the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Boston for two decades, where she spearheaded social justice initiatives, Israel advocacy efforts, and governmental affairs for Boston’s Jewish Federation and its affiliated agencies. She also holds a pivotal role on the leadership team of the SRE Network, serving as a Senior Advisor. President Biden selected Kaufman as a Commissioner on the US Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad in January 2022. Nancy graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University and went on to earn her MSW in community organization and social planning from Boston College School of Social Work. She further enhanced her qualifications with a mid-career master’s in public administration from the JFK School of Government at Harvard University. Her contributions to public service have earned her numerous accolades, including an honorary doctorate in public service from Northeastern University. Among her distinguished honors are the Alumni Achievement Award (1987) and the Bernard Reisman Award for Professional Excellence (2011) from the Hornstein Program at Brandeis University.

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Scope and Content Note

This interview provides an in-depth exploration of Kaufman's life, her upbringing in Brookline, Massachusetts, her experiences in the Jewish community, and her career in social justice and community organizing. Kaufman discusses the impact of her father's death on her family and how the Jewish community in Boston provided support during this challenging period. She also shares her experiences moving to New York and her involvement in various organizations and initiatives, including the Biden Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad and Yaffed. The interview delves into Kaufman's experiences during significant historical events and how these events influenced her work in social justice. Kaufman also discusses the creation of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable and her role in its formation. Kaufman's experiences in Israel, including her visit to the Kotel in 1967, are also discussed, providing insight into her connection with the country and its influence on her work. The interview also covers Kaufman's transition into politics, detailing her work in community organizing and her experiences in implementing a plan she had written as part of her first job out of graduate school. The interview concludes with Kaufman reflecting on her current life, her volunteer work, and her travels. The transcript provides a rich narrative of Kaufman's life, her resilience in the face of adversity, and her commitment to community service and advocacy.

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Nancy Kaufman. Interviewed by Judith Rosenbaum. 14 July 2023. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 29, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/kaufman-nancy>.

Oral History of Nancy Kaufman by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.