Caron Berkley, the new director for the Orange County, San Diego and Desert office of American Friends of The Hebrew University (AFHU), describes her life’s work as using her experience in politics and government, along with her communication skills, to help Israel. She believes she has found her home with AFHU, the national, not-for-profit organization in support of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel’s foremost center of higher education and research.
Berkley likes community building, and she is delighted to be doing it in completely new territory for AFHU. At the same time, Orange County is the place where Berkley’s husband grew up and where her father-in-law is a synagogue president (of Temple Beth Tikvah in Fullerton). She is excited about the relationships that will come out of making connections.
Exuding enthusiasm, Berkley called AFHU “a smorgasbord of innovation, research and scholarly endeavor.” The university, which forges a meaningful partnership between American Jewry and the people of Israel, helps to ensure the nation’s well-being by nurturing Israel’s greatest asset: the intellectual strength of its people. A leader in the area of green research, AFHU has the only veterinary school in the Middle East, the first dental school in the Middle East and the Hadassah medical school.
Before joining AFHU, Berkley served as association director for the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC), the largest single-state coalition of Jewish organizations in the nation. Comprising local Jewish Federations, Jewish Community Relations Committees and Councils, and other Jewish community advocacy groups from throughout California, JPAC advocates on behalf of Jewish social service agencies, traditional community concerns and broadly shared values that affect the citizens of the state. As association director, Berkley was assigned to day-to-day executive management of the organization, communications and member outreach, and worked in concert with JPAC’s Sacramento representatives and board to move its public policy agenda forward.
Berkley also served as director of government relations for the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, supporting the federation’s government affairs and public policy agenda, working with officials at all levels of government to secure and strengthen support for the work of the Jewish Federation and its beneficiary agencies and to advocate on behalf of the Jewish community and the State of Israel.
Before joining The Jewish Federation, Berkley attended USC’s Annenberg School of Communications as part of the communication management graduate program. She came to Los Angeles from Washington, D.C., where she spent nearly 5 years in politics and government. In that time, she was deputy press secretary to U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA); deputy political director for Arizona during the Gore-Lieberman 2000 presidential campaign; and director of scheduling and advance for Clinton Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman. She also served as an intern in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs during President Bill Clinton’s second term.
Berkley is a former young leadership chair for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) and board member at USC Hillel and is a graduate of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Glass Leadership Institute. She and her husband, Cliff Berkley, a legal advocate for the disabled, have one daughter, Tess Hannah, born in August 2011.
“There’s so much opportunity in Orange County,” Berkley said. “It’s an interesting community with a lot of the same people supporting many organizations. We want to honor them and find young people to carry us forward. It’s a matter of making the shiddach (connection).”
American Friends of The Hebrew University
Caron Berkley, Director
Orange County, San Diego, and Desert Office
18340 Yorba Linda Blvd., Suite 107, Box 233
Yorba Linda, CA 92886
(949) 407-6547/(800) 916-9998 x214
About Hebrew University
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel’s first university, was founded on Mount Scopus in 1918 by visionaries including Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Martin Buber and Chaim Weizmann. Opened in 1925, Hebrew University is located on three campuses in Jerusalem and a fourth in Rehovot, and is one of the world’s leading academic and research institutions. More than 23,000 students from over 65 countries choose Hebrew University for its seven academic faculties in the humanities, law, science, social sciences, the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, medicine, and dental medicine. Others choose Hebrew University for extensive opportunities to participate in groundbreaking research. Faculty and alumni of Hebrew University have won seven Nobel Prizes in the last decade.