After a lengthy search process, the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council has tapped Tyler Gregory, a 31-year-old LGBT nonprofit executive and former AIPAC staffer, as its next executive director.
Gregory, who goes by Tye, currently leads A Wider Bridge, a pro-Israel, LGBT nonprofit founded in San Francisco in 2010 and headquartered in New York City for the past four years. Gregory said an executive search was currently underway to find his replacement to lead AWB into its second decade.
Gregory grew up in San Diego but has close ties to the Bay Area — he went to summer camp at Camp Swig and Camp Newman, and graduated from UC Davis 10 years ago. After college he moved to San Francisco to work as an AIPAC campaign assistant.
Gregory began working for A Wider Bridge in 2014, not long after attending a program run by the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation called “LGBT Pathways to Leadership.” A few years later, when A Wider Bridge founder Arthur Slepian decided to step down, Gregory took over as executive director in January 2018 when he was 29.
Gregory will become the youngest executive director in JCRC’s history when he starts the job on June 1, overseeing a staff of about two dozen employees at the 75-year-old nonprofit. He is succeeding Abby Porth, who announced her departure in September after 20 years at JCRC, including three as executive director.
In announcing the hire, JCRC president Paul Resnick cited Gregory’s success engaging “diverse audiences” and a “new generation of upcoming leaders,” per a statement.
“Tyler is a dedicated thought leader and community builder,” Resnick said in the statement. “He has a deep and strong commitment to the core values that are the foundation of JCRC’s mission.”
In a phone interview, Gregory said he hopes to re-engage millennials and younger generations of Jews among whom he finds some “mistrust” of mainstream Jewish institutions and nonprofits.
Consolidated nonprofits like Jewish federations and JCRCs have been a hallmark of Jewish American life for generations. The S.F.-based JCRC, in particular, is known for its engagement during the civil rights movement, its advocacy on behalf of Soviet Jews in the 1960s and 1970s, and its public relations efforts during the Six-Day War and throughout Israel’s history.
Yet today’s young adult Jews are less connected to such Jewish institutions. A 2016 study of millennials released by the Jewish Federations of North America found that the younger generation tends to “push against inherited behaviors” and warned: “Neither millennial attitudes nor the untethered nature of emerging adulthood has been good for Jewish institutional life.”
Said Gregory: “There’s incredible frustration among young people that the institutions that worked for their parents and grandparents aren’t working for them.” He said Jewish communal leaders “would be wise” to pay attention to the experience of these younger Jews.
“If we’re going to make legacy institutions relevant for the next generation, we have to recommit to [young people]. And make sure we’re showing up in their spaces, and not asking them to show up in ours.”
Gregory will become the fifth executive director in JCRC’s history. Porth now heads the Lisa Stone Pritzker Family Foundation; her predecessor, Rabbi Doug Kahn, guided the agency for 34 years.
Gregory’s hiring process involved an “extensive and rigorous search” and interviews with multiple candidates, JCRC said in a press release. Ultimately, JCRC went with someone with close ties to the region.
Gregory joined San Francisco’s Pacific Northwest Region office of AIPAC straight out of college in 2010 and was promoted to deputy political director two years later. As an undergraduate at UC Davis, he was the president of the Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi.
Gregory said one of his top priorities will be to address what he calls “tribalism” within the Jewish community and outside of it, and to “build bridges.”
He’ll address some of those topics, and others, when he speaks at JCRC’s “Behind the Scenes” fundraiser March 11 at the War Memorial Veterans Building in San Francisco. (Odds are he’ll attend the event’s “Next Wave After Party,” as well). For details, visit jcrc.org.
“We know the best way to advance the interests of the Jewish community are to also advance the interests of our neighbors, and vice-versa,” he said. Ultimately, “relationships matter.”