March 9, 2004
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.-Ruth W. Messinger, former Manhattan borough president, president and executive director of American Jewish World Service (AJWS) and professor of urban policy and politics at Hunter College, will speak on Thursday, March 31, at 7:30 p.m. in the Cole Assembly Room in Converse Hall at Amherst College. Sponsored by the Schwemm Fund, the talk, "Ruth Messinger Bears Witness: How Do We Respond?," will provide a firsthand account of the ongoing genocide in Sudan. The event is free and open to the public.

Born and raised in New York City, Messinger has been active in social justice through volunteerism and service work on the basis of the Jewish values of pursuing justice and healing the world. She was in public service in New York for 20 years, serving eight years as Manhattan borough president and running for mayor in 1997-the first woman to secure the Democratic Party's nomination. A member of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism and president of the Board of Surprise Lake Camp, a 100-year-old Jewish camp in New York, Messinger also sits on the boards of such organizations as the Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women; Project Enterprise, a New York City micro-credit organization; and the Jericho Project, a residential drug rehabilitation program. The Forward, an American Jewish weekly newspaper, has named Messinger one of the 50 most influential Jews of the year three times.

AJWS provides aid, technical assistance and volunteers to grassroots groups in more than 35 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, as well as 40 Jewish renewal projects in Russia and Ukraine. AJWS funds projects in health, education, agriculture, and development and human rights in underdeveloped countries.