CHICAGO and NEW YORK — Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America, the largest Jewish women's organization in the United States, has elected Carol Ann Schwartz as its twenty-eighth national president. Schwartz, who is from a four-generation Hadassah family and whose election caps more than 30 years of service to the organization, will begin her four-year term on January 1, 2024. She will succeed Rhoda Smolow, who took office in 2020. The election took place today at Hadassah's annual National Business Meeting, in Chicago.
Working closely with Hadassah CEO Naomi Adler, Schwartz will oversee Hadassah's continued efforts to support Israel, fight antisemitism, advocate for women's health care rights, champion the life-saving medical care and research offered by the Hadassah Medical Organization, Hadassah's medical center in Israel, and provide care and education for at-risk children at Hadassah's youth villages in Israel.
Schwartz joined Hadassah in 1991, gradually assuming local, then regional and eventually national leadership positions. Currently Chair of Hadassah's National Speakers Bureau, a Hadassah representative to the American Zionist Movement and a member of the Hadassah Medical Organization's board of directors, Schwartz was a Hadassah officer for six years — first as one of six National Vice Presidents and then as National Secretary — and has held many other national positions and chaired or been a member of many national committees.
A highly regarded civic leader in her hometown of Cincinnati, Schwartz has been a board member of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, the Jewish National Fund-Cincinnati Region, Rockwern Academy (formerly, Yavneh Day School), the University of Cincinnati Hillel and Adath Israel Congregation. She has also served on the Israel and Overseas Committee of The Jewish Agency for Israel and the boards of the Tel Aviv-based Israel Innovation Fund and the Sigma Delta Tau Foundation.
Schwartz earned an MBA from Cincinnati s Xavier University and a bachelor s degree in business studies from the University of Cincinnati. She has been an executive at The Morris Investment Company, a family-owned real estate concern founded by her grandfather, for three decades. She and her husband, Michael D. Schwartz, the director of zoning services for the Boone County Planning Commission in Kentucky, have three adult children.
National President Rhoda Smolow, who steps down on December 31, oversaw Hadassah's transition to an all-remote operation in the wake of COVID and led an emergency campaign that raised $9 million for the Hadassah Medical Organization's response to the pandemic. Two years later, she spearheaded a joint humanitarian effort among Hadassah; its global fundraising arm, Hadassah International; and the Hadassah Medical Organization that raised $2 million to send physicians from the medical center to the Poland-Ukraine border and displaced Ukrainian teens to Hadassah's youth villages in Israel — a collaboration that led to the three organizations' being among the Jewish NGOs and activists awarded the 2023 Genesis Prize, often called the Jewish Nobel.
Smolow will leave her post at the end of a year in which Hadassah will have marked Israel's 75th anniversary by celebrating and amplifying the voices of today's Zionists, beginning with the publication of Hadassah's inaugural list of 18 American Zionist Women You Should Know and continuing with Hadassah's first Zionism symposium, this October 25-26.
Other highlights of Smolow's presidency include the appointment of Dr. Yoram Weiss and former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik as the Hadassah Medical Organization's director general and chair of the board of directors, respectively; a significant gift from Australia's Gandel Foundation to name a rehabilitation center at the medical center; a new program to develop the next generation of Hadassah leaders; Hadassah's leadership of the effort to create new US-Israel medical partnerships; the organization's support of the successful push to establish the ambassador-level Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism; and Hadassah's mobilization at the local, state and federal levels in support of reproductive freedom, including successful grassroots efforts on five critical state-level ballot measures.
Said Smolow of her successor, "Carol Ann Schwartz's devotion to Hadassah, the Jewish community and Israel, her fierce intelligence and her talent as a manager and leader make her the ideal person to be Hadassah's next national president."
Said Schwartz, "Rhoda Smolow's four-decade commitment to Hadassah is a model for younger members. She is one of the many remarkable women who have made Hadassah what it is today. If I can lead with just some of the grace and wisdom she has shown over the last four years, I cannot help but succeed."
"I look forward to partnering with Carol Ann to realize Hadassah's mission and her vision for Hadassah's future," said Adler, adding, "I will always be grateful to Rhoda for her support when I arrived two years ago and for sharing her vast knowledge of Hadassah during hours of fascinating conversations."