The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee announced today that Abby Lester will be the next Director of its Global Archives, effective January 1, 2023. A senior archives professional with vast experience at Jewish and academic archives, Lester currently serves as JDC’s Archival Collections Manager. She is replacing Linda Levi, the veteran JDC executive who built the JDC Global Archives into a treasure of the Jewish people and is retiring this month after thirty-seven years with JDC.
“I am thrilled to appoint Abby to this critically important role not only for our organization, but to the wider Jewish world. I am confident her wide-ranging professional expertise and passion for making archival materials relevant and accessible will bring new energy to our efforts and help us reach ever widening audiences with a collection of historic materials that shed light on the Jewish past while informing the Jewish future,” said JDC CEO Ariel Zwang.
After joining JDC in 2022, Lester distinguished herself by leading the organization’s archival process related to its Ukraine crisis response, a complex project involving programs and staff from around the world. Prior to JDC, Lester served as the College Archivist and Head of Research Services at Sarah Lawrence College where she managed its landmark Barbara Walters Archives Project. Lester was previously an archivist at Columbia University Archives and Columbiana Library; the Jewish Museum of Maryland, and the American Jewish Historical Society.
“I am particularly humbled to take on this role and lead, empower, and support the stellar team at the JDC Global Archives to continue and enhance access to an archival collection of unparalleled significance among global archives. In my return to Jewish archives after more than two decades in academic archives, I am excited by the opportunity to oversee the preservation and dissemination of JDC’s collection of records that have personal meaning for millions of people worldwide and critical significance for the Jewish world today,” said Abby Lester.
With one of the most important collections for the study of modern Jewish history, the JDC Global Archives comprises records of JDC activity in over 90 countries from 1914 to present day. The Global Archives includes over 3 miles of documents, 150,000 photographs, a research library of more than 6,000 books, 1,100 audio recordings including oral histories, and a collection of 2,500 films and videos.