Mark J. Pelavin serves as Chief Program Officer of the Union for
Reform Judaism, the largest denomination in North American Jewish life. As a member
of the URJ's Executive Team, he plays a key role in developing and refining the
URJ's priorities and structures as Reform Judaism moves into a new era.
Mark was among the key architects of the
URJ's strategic planning process and is playing a leadership role in
implementing its new 2020 Vision. He chairs the URJ's Program Leadership Team,
coordinating the URJ's work on its strategic priorities: strengthening
congregations, audacious hospitality, and tikkun
olam (repair of the world).
Mark also directs the URJ's
communications efforts, including the popular ReformJudaism.org and the rest of
its family of websites, and serves as the Reform Movement's primary
spokesperson. He plays a leadership role in shaping the Movement's public
policy agenda, representing the URJ at the Conference of Presidents of Major
American Jewish Organizations. Additionally, he directs the URJ's Biennial
General Assembly - the largest conference in American Jewish life - and
produces its plenary sessions, including 2011's keynote address by President
From 1996 to 2012, Mark served as the Associate Director of the Religious Action
Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) in Washington, D.C., where he was one of the
Jewish community's leading legislative strategists and senior lobbyists. During
that time, he also served as Director of
the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, relating ethical and
spiritual principles of Judaism to the problems of today's world. Mark has
represented the Reform Movement in dialogue with other faith communities,
serving as the Director of the
Commission on Interreligious Affairs (including representing the Movement
in meetings with Pope Benedict XVI). In this capacity, he played a key role in
the Reform Movement's ground-breaking Muslim/Jewish dialogue work.
A popular speaker, respected teacher,
and leading spokesperson for the Reform Movement, Mark's observations and
writings have been carried in newspapers across the nation, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA
Today, and he is a frequent guest on radio and television programs. Before
joining the staff of the Reform Movement, Mark held various positions,
including Director of Governmental and Public Affairs for the American Jewish
Congress and as a member of the Mondale for President Campaign staff.
Mark is a graduate of Brandeis
University (B.A. in Politics) and the Georgetown University Law Center (J.D.,
cum laude). He and his wife, Lori Morris, live in Bowie, MD, and have two
children, Jordan and Daniel.