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El Paso Native Russell F. Robinson Named One of World's "50 Most Influential Jews"

Adam H. Brill, Director of Communications
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Early Interactions with Israelis Training at Fort Bliss Shaped Future for JNF’s CEO
Russell Robinson NC 2016.jpg
Russell F. Robinson at JNF's National Conference in NY last month.

New York, NY: October 7, 2016 – Hailed for bringing Jewish National Fund (JNF) “to new levels” and named No. 26 by the Jerusalem Post on its international list of “50 Most Influential Jews,” JNF CEO Russell F. Robinson credits his upbringing in El Paso, Texas for the man he is today.     

The Jerusalem Post praised Robinson’s “energetic leadership” adding that “JNF has become one of the most recognized non-profit organizations for its work, cultivation of a younger donor population, business management, financial integrity, volunteer involvement and innovative programs.”     

Robinson, along with brothers Ron, Robert and Roger, is the son of Ruth (Rosenberg) and Richard, was born and raised in El Paso, went to Mesita Elementary School and graduated from Coronado High School in 1974 before studying business at University of Texas-El Paso. During college he started RIM Carpet Cleaning to pay for school and later served at the local Jewish Community Center as youth director and assistant director.      

It was in El Paso, over dinner at home, where he met his first Israeli. “I was just a kid when my parents invited Israeli soldiers over for dinner,” recalls Robinson. “They were training at Fort Bliss, the largest Army base in the country, and learning about missile defense – something Israelis came to rely on for their survival – and I was enthralled. Those dinners, the connections I made to the Israeli people, I guess you could say my future was set.”     

In 1998, after serving in other executive capacities in American Jewry, Robinson was hired by then-JNF President Ronald S. Lauder (named No. 15 on the list) to lead the century old organization. “Looking back I really believe my upbringing in El Paso set in motion my career path,” Robinson remarked. “El Paso grounded me and there was a beautiful diversity of population. It was a great place to grow up and as one of 1,500 Jews in a city of 300,000, I learned early on the importance of mutual respect, culture, heritage, and sharing in the hope of the American dream.”     

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said, "I want to personally congratulate Russell on this esteemed honor. Having grown up with Russell, I am proud to call him a friend, and as Mayor of El Paso, I am proud that he represents our community on a global scale. Russell has always been a good friend to me and to El Paso, and the designation is well deserved."     

Robinson, who lives in New Jersey and works out of the JNF national office in New York, is married to Marci and has two children, son Sam of Los Angeles, and daughter Aly, who now calls Israel home after moving there earlier this year. He is featured in the best-selling management book, “The 24 Hour Turnaround, How Amazing Entrepreneurs Succeed in Tough Times,” and has appeared on TV, radio, and newspapers throughout the world representing Jewish National Fund.     

His daughter’s desire to carry on her father’s Zionist spirit is part of the message that Robinson sells to donors and partners: “We must learn from the generation that fought for the land of Israel – that gave us the land of Israel after thousands of years – and the generation that battled for the reunification of Jerusalem. Now, it is up to each of us to plant that flag in the ground and stand there tall and proud and protect those who brought us Israel and Jerusalem, to make it a better world, a better place. Let’s provide our young people with a great understanding of what they are capable of doing, and we will achieve greatness in the world.” 
Read the full Jerusalem Post article and interview with Robinson here.

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JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (JNF) began in 1901 as a dream and vision to reestablish a homeland in Israel for Jewish people everywhere. Jews the world over collected coins in iconic JNF Blue Boxes, purchasing land and planting trees until ultimately, their dream of a Jewish homeland was a reality. JNF gives all generations of Jews a unique voice in building a prosperous future for the land of Israel and its people.

JNF embodies both heart and action; our work is varied in scope but singular in benefit. We strive to bring an enhanced quality of life to all of Israel’s residents, and translate these advancements to the world beyond. JNF is greening the desert with millions of trees, building thousands of parks, creating new communities and cities for generations of Israelis to call home, bolstering Israel’s water supply, helping develop innovative arid-agriculture techniques, and educating both young and old about the founding and importance of Israel and Zionism.

JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization and United Nations NGO, which continuously earns top ratings from charity overseers.

For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit


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