AJCommittee hires new chapter director

BY MIKE SHERWIN, STAFF WRITER

The American Jewish Committee has found a new leader for the St. Louis chapter.

Nancy Lisker, 42, began as chapter coordinator of the St. Louis office on April 16, replacing Betsy Dennis, who left the AJCommittee in February for a new post at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

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Matt Coen, the AJCommittee St. Louis Chapter president, said Lisker stood out among the other candidates for the position. “We really couldn’t be happier with our choice,” Coen said. “She has a lot of energy and great ideas for the future.”

Lisker, originally from Mexico City, is relatively new to St. Louis, but not to the Midwest.

Before moving to St. Louis a year and a half ago, Lisker lived in Chicago for 16 years, where she worked for the Mexican Foreign Service at the Consulate General of Mexico in Chicago for four-and-a-half years, helping to build support among government, business and union leaders in the Midwest for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Then Lisker attended Northwestern University for her master’s degree in integrated marketing communications and took a position with the Leo Burnett advertising agency’s global headquarters in Chicago.

Lisker moved to St. Louis when her husband, Sergio, became a professor at Washington University.

Lisker said the position at the AJCommittee appealed to her because it would utilize her experience in diplomacy for a Jewish cause.

“I’m very connected to Judaism in many aspects,” Lisker said. “I grew up in Mexico City, where the Jewish community is very close-knit.” Lisker attended a Jewish day school there, and spent one year in Israel.

Stuart Zimmerman, immediate past president of the AJCommittee St. Louis and current board member, said Lisker’s background was a good match for the organization’s global focus.

“She brings international diplomatic experience with her,” he said. “Although the AJC is brand new to her, she’ll be a great fit.”

“As an organization, the AJC is probably the world’s leading non-governmental Jewish organization that is engaged in international diplomacy,” Lisker said. “The AJC works with opinion leaders and maintains networks of high-level contacts in and outside of governments. I have done that for the Mexican government and I felt I could do that for a Jewish cause.”

After her first week at the AJCommittee, Lisker said that while she sees much work to be done, she is excited about her new post, and looking forward to working with the community.

Lisker said the St. Louis office is seen by the AJCommittee nationally as a model for other chapters.

“There’s always this idea in people’s minds that St. Louis is a small Midwestern city, but in New York, there is the idea that St. Louis will lead the way for other cities, because it has a very vibrant community that has both the experience of very mature leaders and also the fresh blood and fresh ideas of the younger generation who may have left for college or left for a few years and came back here to establish their families,” she said.

Lisker said two of the organization’s top priorities this year will be focused on issues of dependence on foreign oil, and supporting fair and comprehensive immigration policies.

Lisker said that as a relative newcomer to the city, she is also looking forward to building alliances with other Jewish organizations in St. Louis.

“There is a lot of work to do,” Lisker said, “and I’m of the mind that we’re all one people, that we’re all Jewish and that we can all work together.”

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