The Educational Alliance has a new leader.
A short time ago, the large Lower East Side not-for-profit announced the appointment of Alan van Capelle as chief executive officer. Formerly, van Capelle headed the Jewish advocacy organization Bend the Arc. He was also a deputy comptroller for New York City and executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda.
Van Capelle replaces Robin Bernstein, who has held the top post at the Educational Alliance for the past 15 years. She announced her resignation last February, but stayed on while the board searched for a new chief executive. The 124-year-old organization is going through a major transition; its flagship building at 197 East Broadway — now known as the Manny Cantor Center — reopens early next year after a $55 million renovation and expansion.
In a statement, van Capelle said, “(The Educational Alliance is) a jewel of the Jewish immigrant story in New York, one of our best contributions to a city that’s welcomed so many of us… As someone who loves championing this city, I am honored to have the opportunity to lead an organization that represents New York at its best.”
Van Capelle lives on the Lower East Side, a fact noted by Russell Makowsky, the organization’s board chairman. “After a national search, it turned out that the leader we were searching for lived in our own neighborhood,” he said. “[Van Capelle is] an impressive young man and will be a strong, passionate and articulate chief executive for the agency at a particularly transformational time in our history.” Makowsky called Bernstein “a visionary leader” who “mobilized the community in the midst of the recession,” led the renovation project as well as many other programs.
Bernstein said, “It has been a privilege for me to lead this historic organization, working with our dedicated staff and board to strengthen the Educational Alliance’s capacity to serve the diverse communities of the Lower East Side. I’m thrilled that I’m leaving the agency in Alan’s capable hands. He brings a deep understanding of the people and community the Alliance serves.”
Van Capelle was named to the “Forward 50” by the Jewish Daily Forward, the New York Observer’s top “power gays”, the National Leadership Council’s “40 under 40” list and has served on the transition committees for Governor Eliot Spitzer and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.