Born out of a need to organize and engage the Israeli-American community, the Israeli Leadership Council (ILC) was founded in 2007. A small, influential group of Israeli-American community leaders joined together to form the first ILC Board of Directors. The founding group formulated the ILC’s 3 key pillars, to strengthen future generations of Israeli-Americans, The American Jewish community and The State of Israel. Between its launch in 2007 and 2013 the organization’s rapid growth established the ILC as the largest Israeli-American organization in the US engaging 50,000 community members through its various activities. In 2013 the organization changed its name to the Israeli-American Council (IAC) to more accurately reflect is mission. By the fall of 2014, the IAC developed a national presence establishing 6 regional offices throughout the United States; Los Angeles (national headquarters), New York, Las Vegas, Miami, Boston and New Jersey. Closing out an impressive year of growth, the IAC held the first Israeli-American Community National Conference in Washington DC. During 2014-15 the organization is serving over 150,000 participants through a wide array of programs and events. The IAC continues its outreach efforts with plans to open more regional offices to meet the growing and evolving needs of the estimated 500,000 – 800,000 Israeli-Americans currently living in the United States.
In the summer of 2006, the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles organized a pro-Israel rally, in response to Israel’s engagement in the Second Lebanon War. The rally attracted community and public officials, as well as hundreds of community members, only a handful of which were Israeli-Americans. The organizers were disappointed to see the low participation from the more than 200,000 Israeli-Americans residing in the area. This was particularly surprising because Israeli-Americans were closely following the events in their homeland and lead initiatives of support. However, it became clear, that as a community, they were not organized nor affiliated with any institution that was able to unite them.
Recognizing the potential, Israel’s Consul General at that time, Ehud Danoch, called two local Israeli-American community veterans, Danny Alpert and Eli Marmour. During their initial meeting at a local restaurant, Danoch outlined an idea on a napkin, of an Israeli-American business club that will help to build an Israeli-American community.
Danny set up a preliminary meeting at his home with active community members Adam Milstein, Eli Tene, Steve Erdman, Naty Saidoff, Eli Marmour and Shoham Nicolet. Together they broadened the idea to be inclusive of a larger membership constituency. They founded the “Israeli Leadership Council” (ILC) with the goal of building an Israeli-American community to strengthen its second and third generations, the Jewish community and the State of Israel.
In July 2007, approximately 80 Israeli-American businessmen leaders gathered to at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for the historic ILC Launch Event, featuring the Mayor of Los Angeles and Israel’s Consul General. That evening, many of the participants joined the young organization as active members, and the ILC was born, an event that would change the course of history.
At the helm of ILC were the founding board members; Adam Milstein, Steve Erdman, Eli Marmour, Naty Saidoff, Shawn Evenhaim, Yossi Rabinovitz and Nissan Pardo who nominated Danny Alpert and Eli Tene as Co-Chairs of Board. Shoham Nicolet was asked to volunteer to lead the venture as the Founding Executive Director. Furthermore, the ILC developed a unique membership base of Israeli-American donors that became the foundation of the organization.
The founding group dove into extensive strategic planning. The result was 3 key pillars, which are still at the core of the organization’s activity today; Strengthen future generations of Israeli-Americans, The American Jewish community and The State of Israel.
They set six visionary goals; Cultivating the Israeli-American community with a strong Jewish-Israeli identity; Building the Los Angeles chapter as model for a nation-wide organization; Recreating the relationship between the State of Israel and Israeli-Americans; Involving Israeli-Americans as an active and integral part of the Jewish-American community; Fostering the culture of giving with the Israeli-American community; and recruiting the Israeli-American for public diplomacy in support of Israel.
They also set three core values for the leadership; “Ahchari”- Serve as a role model by encouraging a culture of giving, activism and connection to Israel through personal examples of community involvement; Resource- Provide professional and financial resources to strengthen other organizations; Bridge- strengthen the relationship between the Israeli-American community, the State of Israel and the American Jewish community.
By 2008 the ILC was clearly gaining momentum and attracting many business leaders from the community including Beny Alagem, Leo David and Haim Saban who became key supporters and mentors of the ILC.
“Live for Sdeort” was ILC’s first major initiative benefitting the Israeli town, which was under constant missile attack. The sold-out event, in joined efforts with the Israeli Consulate, brought together 1,800 attendees, including Hollywood superstars and leading public officials. The 2008 presidency candidates, Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McKain, sent a support video-message. The funds raised at the event helped to bring educational technologies to schools in Sderot, benefiting the city still today. Most importantly, this was the first time Israeli-Americans were leading a major fundraiser and community event for the entire Los Angeles Jewish community.
At the end of 2008 Israel faced a new war – this time in Gaza. Overnight, the ILC launched project Tzav 8, utilizing technology to mobilize thousands of community members to public support of Israel. The highlight of that effort was a rally of more than 6,000 people in front of the Federal Building. Since then, the organization has been utilizing Tzav 8 whenever major crisis takes place in Israel.
By the end of 2008, the ILC attracted more than 25,000 participants to its activities while increasing its membership and volunteer support.
In 2009, less than two years after its establishment, the ILC held its First Annual Gala Dinner. Hundreds of Israeli-Americans came together for the first time for a major fundraiser with the goal to build its own community. Every year since, the ILC Annual Gala is one of the highlight events in Los Angeles, and it is a place where the Israeli-American community demonstrates its culture of giving. Furthermore, since the second Annual gala, the Israeli President, Prime Minister and other Israeli government officials use the opportunity to deliver their supportive message to the organization and the community.
In the two years that followed, the ILC started to support a variety of grass-root organizations in the community. One of the first organizations was the Tzofim, the Israeli Scouts, which doubled its size with the help of the organization. Today the IAC is a major supporter of more than 40 other non-profit organizations throughout the United States. Identifying specific needs in the community, the ILC also started to develop new programs. In 2010 the ILC founded BINA, an Israeli and Jewish American young professional community and in 2011, the ILC’s first national program, Sifriyat Pijama B’America (SP-BA), a Hebrew literacy program for children ages 2-8, was introduced, delivering free Hebrew children’s books to thousands of Israeli-American families nationwide on a monthly basis.
In September 2011, the ILC recruited its first full-time CEO, Sagi Balasha. It was time for the organization to expand its team and activity, and Balasha was the right person at the right time. In the following years the IAC experienced a rapid growth and expansion. After several events earlier the same year, in November 2011, ILC Care was launched to the community via a major concert attended by 6,000 people at Universal Studios, Hollywood. In April 2012 ILC initiated the Celebrate Israel Festival, a festival celebrating Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel’s independence day) attended by more than 15,000 people in the heart of Los Angeles.
In May 2012 Shawn Evenhaim was elected as the new Chairman of the Board, taking on the role to lead and navigate the organization’s massive growth in the upcoming years together with the ILC’s Board of Directors included: Adam Milstein, Danny Alpert, Naty Saidoff, Yossi Rabinovitz, Miri Shepher, Tamir Cohen and Shoham Nicolet.
Between the summer of 2011 and the summer of 2012, more than 30,000 people participated in ILC programs and events. By mid-2013 the organization nearly doubled its activity, with more than 50,000 participants. As a result, additional creative programs were developed, and the existing programs became more robust to serve the rapidly evolving demand and need.
In 2013, after a rebranding process and in order to better reflect its core mission, the organization officially announced itself as the Israeli-American Council (IAC). The new name was announced during its Annual Gala Dinner in March 2013. Among the audience were two major philanthropists and longtime pro-Israel activists: Sheldon & Dr. Miriam Adelson. Watching the incredible phenomena, the couple made a commitment to provide the necessary resources to fulfill IAC’s vision to become a national organization.
In September 2013, following a thorough strategic plan, IAC’s National Expansion Plan was launched offering a model that will engage more than 500,000 Israeli-American throughout the United States under one umbrella.
The national expansion plan focuses on identifying local lay leaders in new regions to serve on Regional Councils which function as each region’s local board. In each region, the IAC establishes an office headed by a professional Regional Director that works hand-in-hand with the Regional Council and IAC Headquarters.
The regional offices offer a combination of national programs as well as customized local programming to serve the unique needs of each community. Each IAC regional office also supports and empowers local initiatives and organizations that share IAC's mission and community objectives.
By the summer of 2014, the IAC's unprecedented growth had led to the establishment of six regional offices; Los Angeles (national headquarters), New York, Las Vegas, Miami, Boston and New Jersey. More than 75 Regional Council members joined the organization as active lay leaders. With 60 professional and dedicated staff members, and an annual budget of $17.5 million, the organization has been serving over 150,000 participants through a wide array of programs and events.
The IAC National Board grew adding representatives from all of the regions including Avi Almozlino (Boston), Rachel Davidson (NYC), Yohanan Lowie (Las Vegas), Rani Ben David (Florida) and Avi Cohen (New Jersey).
In November 2014 the IAC held its Inaugural Israeli-American Community National Conference in Washington DC. The historic event drew over 700 community members and leaders from 23 states for an intensive, informative and engaging three days packed with specialized breakout sessions and large plenaries. The conference program featured top political leaders from both the United States and Israel, as well as the most prominent voices from the Israeli-American business & philanthropic communities.
The IAC continues its outreach efforts with plans to open more regional offices to meet the growing and evolving needs of the estimated 500,000 – 800,000 Israeli-Americans currently living in the United States.