Mark Pelavin’s career has placed him at the intersection of strategic communications and public policy, working at the highest levels to advance progressive values and build strong institutions.
He was a senior professional for the Reform Jewish Movement, the largest denomination in North American Jewish Life, for over 25 years serving as Director of its Commission on Social Action, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center, Director of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs, and, later, as Senior Advisor to the President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and as the URJ’s Chief Program Officer.
In every role, Mark shaped policy and drove communications strategy. These efforts included:
• Mobilizing tens of thousands of community leaders, led by teens, around the 2018 March for Our Lives anti-gun violence efforts after the shootings in Parkland, Florida;
• Designing and implementing the media strategy to introduce the URJ’s first new President in 20 years;
• Producing the URJ Biennial General Assembly, the largest conference in North American Jewish life, including directing plenary sessions with President Barak Obama and Vice President Joe Biden;
• Leading a restructuring of the Israel advocacy work of the largest religious Zionist organization;
• Staffing the North American Board of a geographically and ideologically diverse Movement, and partnering with successive Board Chairs to design meetings and facilitate the policy-making process; and
• Launching a new website – ReformJudasim.org – to expand the Movement’s outreach to the unaffiliated and unengaged.
Mark developed a special expertise working with congregations, camps, and other institutions in responding to crises. This included counseling synagogue boards as they addressed ethical boundary violations (by clergy and others), providing advice to – and mobilizing support for – congregations impacted by natural disasters or anti-Semitic attacks, and serving as a spokesperson on the most challenging issues.
Mark has always played a key role building coalitions and helping new organizations get off the ground. As part of his work as Director of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs, he helped create Shoulder to Shoulder, bringing scores of religious institutions together in support of American Muslims. He was a long-time leader of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, and continues to advise the Roundtable’s professional staff.
Prior to his tenure with the Reform Movement, Mark held a series of positions with the American Jewish Congress, beginning as an intern and concluding with serving as the agency’s Washington Representative.
A member of the Maryland and U.S. Supreme Court bars, Mark is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and of Brandeis University. He lives on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.