Keynote Speakers

Learn about the 2018 #JCampConf keynote speakers.

We are excited to profile our keynote speakers who will participate in the 2018 JCamp 180 Annual Conference!

(Note: You can also find bios of all of our workshop presenters on our website.)

Beth Kanter
Master Trainer, Speaker, Author, and Blogger

Beth is an internationally recognized thought leader in networks, social media, philanthropy, wellbeing in the workplace, and training. Beth has over 35 years working in the nonprofit sector in capacity building and has facilitated trainings for thousands of social change activists and nonprofits on every continent in the world. She is an in-demand keynote speaker and workshop leader.

Named one of the most influential women in technology by Fast Company and one of the BusinessWeek’s “Voices of Innovation for Social Media,” Beth was a visiting scholar at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, 2009-2013. She is the author of the award-winning The Networked Nonprofit and The Happy Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact without Burnout published by J. Wiley. She writes “Beth’s Blog,” one of the first nonprofit blogs. Her clients include foundations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. She is an adjunct professor at Middlebury College. 

Aaron Lansky
Founder & President,
Yiddish Book Center 

Aaron Lansky is founder and president of the Yiddish Book Center, one of the world’s most vibrant Jewish cultural organizations.

Lansky was a graduate student in Montreal in the late 1970s when he discovered that large numbers of Yiddish books were being discarded by younger Jews who could not read the language of their parents and grandparents. So he took what he expected would be a two-year leave of absence from graduate school, founded the Yiddish Book Center, and, in the summer of 1980, issued a public appeal for unwanted and discarded Yiddish books. At the time, scholars believed just 70,000 volumes were still extant and recoverable. Lansky and a handful of young colleagues recovered that number in six months and went on to collect more than a million volumes. Their work has been described as “one of the greatest cultural rescue efforts in Jewish history.”

Today the Yiddish Book Center is using new technology to make the books it saved widely accessible and to share their content with new generations. The organization has drawn on its duplicate holdings to establish or strengthen Yiddish collections at 700 libraries in 26 countries, and, with help from Steven Spielberg and others, it’s digitized most of the titles in its collection and posted them online, where they’ve since been downloaded more than 2 million times.  

With barely 2% of Yiddish titles translated into English, Lansky and his colleagues have launched a far-reaching program to train a new generation of Yiddish translators. And they’ve developed a far-reaching oral history program to collect not only Jews’ books but also their personal stories.  

But perhaps the Yiddish Book Center is best known today, especially among young people, for its groundbreaking educational programs. Current offerings include the Great Jewish Books Summer Program for high school students, the Steiner Summer Yiddish Program for college students, fellowships for recent graduates, Tent: Encounters with Jewish Culture for twentysomethings, and YiddishSchool online and weekend programs for adults.

A native of New Bedford, Massachusetts, Aaron Lansky holds a BA in modern Jewish history from Hampshire College, an MA in East European Jewish Studies from McGill University, and honorary doctorates from Amherst College, the State University of New York, and Hebrew Union College. Early in his career he was included by Esquire magazine in its first annual register of “The Best of the New Generation: Men and Women Under Forty Who Are Changing America,” and he received a so-called “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation in 1989. His bestselling book, Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books, won the Massachusetts Book Award in Nonfiction in 2005. In 2014, the Yiddish Book Center received a National Medal for Museum and Library Service in a White House ceremony.     

David Makovsky
Ziegler Distinguished Fellow and the Director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process,
Washington Institute of Near East Policy

David Makovsky is the Ziegler distinguished fellow at The Washington Institute and director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process. He is also an adjunct professor in Middle East studies at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). In 2013-2014, he worked in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of State, serving as a senior advisor to the special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Author of numerous Washington Institute monographs and essays on issues related to the Middle East Peace Process and the Arab-Israeli conflict, he is also coauthor, with Dennis Ross, of the 2009 Washington Post bestseller Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East (Viking/Penguin). His 2011 maps on alternative territorial solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were reprinted by the New York Times in the paper's first interactive treatment of an op-ed. His widely acclaimed September 2012 New Yorker essay, "The Silent Strike," focused on the U.S.-Israel dynamics leading up to the 2007 Israeli attack on Syrian nuclear facilities.

Mr. Makovsky is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. His commentary on the peace process and the Arab-Israeli conflict has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Chicago Tribune, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and National Interest. He appears frequently in the media to comment on Arab-Israeli affairs, including PBS NewsHour.

He has testified before the full U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the full U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, and on multiple occasions before the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Middle East Subcommittee.

In last several years, he has made over 120 visits to American college campuses to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has done a TEDx talk on this issue for the college audience.

Before joining The Washington Institute, Mr. Makovsky was an award-winning journalist who covered the peace process from 1989 to 2000. He is the former executive editor of the Jerusalem Post, was diplomatic correspondent for Israel's leading daily, Haaretz, and is a former contributing editor to U.S. News and World Report. He served for eleven years as that magazine's special Jerusalem correspondent. He was awarded the National Press Club's 1994 Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence for a cover story on PLO finances that he cowrote for the magazine.

In July 1994, as a result of personal intervention by then Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Mr. Makovsky became the first journalist writing for an Israeli publication to visit Damascus. In total, he has made five trips to Syria, the most recent in December 1999 when he accompanied then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In March 1995, with assistance from U.S. officials, Mr. Makovsky was given unprecedented permission to file reports from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for an Israeli publication.

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. Makovsky received a bachelor's degree from Columbia University and a master's degree in Middle East studies from Harvard University.