LOS ANGELES, CA — Define American is thrilled to announce that Rebecca Neuwirth has been named Executive Director following an extensive national search led by Development Guild. She will step into her new role on May 8. Rebecca’s bold leadership will ensure that Define American remains one of the most trusted and impactful organizations in the culture change space. As Executive Director, her role will include strategic and day-to-day oversight of programmatic work, with a strong focus on facilitation of strategic clarity and growth initiatives, fundraising strategy, and team engagement and support. She will report to Jose Antonio Vargas, Founder and President of Define American, and will partner with the full Define American Board of Directors to execute the organization’s vision.
“Rebecca’s ambitious vision for Define American, combined with her decades of achievement, will help our organization make an even bigger impact as immigration takes center stage in national conversations,” said Define American Founder and President Jose Antonio Vargas. “Rebecca has long been an advocate for immigrant communities and is the right choice to drive our organization into the future.” Rebecca has a long history of nonprofit leadership and brings significant advocacy, policy, and fundraising experience to Define American, most recently having served as Executive Vice President at Upwardly Global, an immigrant and refugee workforce organization, where she helped lead an ambitious multi-year growth and scale plan, drove equitable expansion, and oversaw strategic communications. Her efforts supported the organization in doubling staff size and tripling its fundraising in just three years.
Previously Rebecca held senior leadership roles at the Center for Popular Democracy and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). She was also Founder and Director of ACCESS at the American Jewish Committee (AJC), and Executive Director of Thanks To Scandinavia, an independent scholarship foundation. At the JDC, Rebecca raised significant funding and cultivated dozens of significant principal gifts ranging from $100,000 to $2 million through major gifts programs, giving circles, international mission opportunities, cultural programs, exhibits and symposia. She also created a major donor cultivation group of ambassadors who raised over $3 million annually for the JDC through individual donations.
Rebecca sits on the Board of Thanks To Scandinavia and the Advisory Board of the Sandy Kahn Wasserman Jewish Studies Center at Baruch College. She previously served on Penn South Social Services, a group that works with elderly in Chelsea, and on the Board of High 5 Tickets to the Arts, a nonprofit that she created with friends to encourage high school students to take advantage of New York’s rich arts and culture, now part of Arts Connection. She was a Convener for JCPA’s inaugural Resetting the Table project in 2014, started a Chelsea Community Dinners program and the Penn South intergenerational chess club, and is working with her neighbors right now to create a community garden.
“As the child of a bookseller from Brooklyn and a refugee two times over who remade her life in the U.S., Define American speaks deeply to who I am and my belief in the power of culture to humanize and build authentic community,” said Rebecca Neuwirth. “I am so honored to step into this role, guided by Jose’s courage and leadership and the inspiration of Define American’s talented staff. I look forward to supporting the growth and impact of our critical work.”
Rebecca’s leadership training includes experience in both Germany and the United States. She has a BA magna cum laude from Yale University and an MA from the Free University in Berlin, and was awarded a DAAD-Fulbright yearlong fellowship to pursue research on how the literary canon shapes our political and social perspectives. While in Germany, Rebecca translated a book on educational history by the father of modern systems theory, Niklas Luhmann.
Rebecca will be based in New York, where she grew up and currently lives with her family.
About Define American
Define American is a narrative change organization that uses the power of storytelling to humanize conversations about immigrants. We conduct original, cutting-edge research to identify narratives that inspire people to action. Our advocacy within entertainment, digital media, and the arts is creating an America where everyone belongs. Define American was founded in 2011 by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and has been named one of the world’s most innovative companies by Fast Company. For more information about our programmatic work, visit defineamerican.com.