Established in 1906 by a small group of Americans with the original mission of protecting Jewish populations in danger, the American Jewish Committee is the nation’s oldest human rights organization.
More than a century later, AJC continues its mission of protecting the human rights of all minority communities. On Tuesday night, AJC will present the Civic Leadership Award to Bruce V. Rauner, principal of private equity and venture capital firm GTCR, for his community involvement and philanthropic leadership. Bruce tells Cause & Event about the highlights of the event and why he supports AJC.
Q. What can you tell us about AJC’s mission and its importance to our community?
A. I think it’s really important that a city like Chicago, with all of its various ethnic, religious and international associations, has an organization like AJC to be the connector. Each year, AJC brings together people of different faiths and ethnicities and diplomats stationed in Chicago from all over the world to increase mutual understanding and respect. It’s a vital mission and one that AJC, which dedicates much of its work to promoting pluralism, democratic values and human rights, does very well.
Q. What can we expect at this year’s Civic Leadership Award Dinner?
A. A great time! Well, first, I’m very grateful to receive this award from AJC. I am also excited and honored to have many close friends and people I admire at the dinner. Obviously these dinners are great to raise an organization’s visibility, but I am most excited to do my part to raise money for a very important cause.
Q. Among the American Jewish Committee’s initiatives, which one are you most passionate about?
A. Right now, it is so important that people come together to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It’s an issue that I know AJC is hard at work on, and I feel that we must be successful because the alternative involves some pretty dreadful outcomes for all of us. AJC has really been a leading organization on this vital issue, and it’s a privilege to lend my support. I also love their work with the different ethnic and religious groups in Chicago. Chicago is such a great city and Illinois is such a wonderful state, and I love that there is an organization working to bring people together.
Q. How did you learn about the American Jewish Committee’s work in Chicago?
A. I’ve always had tremendous respect for AJC’s leaders including their campaign chair, Ron Gidwitz; President’s Cabinet chair, Lester Crown, and president, Jack Levin. Nothing says more about an organization than the people who belong to it and, throughout my life, some of the most dedicated, smart and respected people that I know have been leaders at AJC. When they asked me to consider being honored I was incredibly flattered and learned even more about the organization’s great work.
The Sun-Times is a media sponsor of the event.