NEW YORK, Sept. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC today announced the appointment of Ambassador Elena Poptodorova as the first Director of the newly-established Shapiro-Silverberg AJC Central Europe Office, which will be based in Warsaw, Poland.
AJC Central Europe, the organization's fifth post in Europe, will focus on seven countries – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia. It was made possible by the generosity of John Shapiro, AJC's President, and his wife, Dr. Shonni Silverberg.
"We couldn't be more thrilled that Ambassador Poptodorova will become the first Director of AJC Central Europe," said AJC CEO David Harris. "She has been a dear friend and cherished partner of AJC since 2002. Her exceptional background, stature, and experience in Central Europe, the European Union, NATO, and transatlantic relations will be major assets in her new position. Plus, her close ties to the Jewish community and her recognition of Israel's importance to Europe will be very important in her role. She understands fully the transition from communism to democracy, from east to west, and from repression to freedom, because she lived it and helped navigate it."
Reflecting on her decision to join AJC, effective next month, Ambassador Poptodorova said: "I belong to the generation that 'bridges' the legacy of pre-1989 Central Europe to our euphoric hopes and expectations post-1989 in a Europe whole and free. We have also been the 'bridge' to a powerful transatlantic bond that buttresses the security of Europe and the world. In all these efforts, the countries of Central Europe enjoyed the full-throttled support of AJC from the very beginning. AJC proved to be uniquely prepared and effective in working with both governments and non-governmental organizations in the region, building a reputation for principle, integrity, and long-term vision. I saw it all first-hand. AJC has been there for Bulgaria, for example, every step of the way since 1989."
"To preserve the community of democratic nations in today's challenging environment, with new threats replacing the old, we need the same drive, energy, and dedication that we witnessed in recent years," Poptodorova added. "AJC Central Europe will most certainly play its role in representing and defending the values of democracy, European partnership, transatlantic bonds, ties with democratic Israel, and protection of human dignity. I can't wait to get started."
Ambassador Poptodorova's position will be known as the Rubin and Frances Partel Director, AJC Central Europe, named for the parents of Harriet P. Schleifer, Chair of AJC's National Board of Governors.
Previously, Ambassador Poptodorova has had a distinguished career in politics and diplomacy. A native of Bulgaria, she served as her country's Ambassador to the United States from 2002 to 2008 and, again, from 2010 to 2016. During her 12 years in the U.S., she became a widely-known and highly-respected figure in Washington and across the country through her frequent travels.
Additionally, she spent three years as the Minister-Counselor at the Bulgarian Embassy in Rome, Italy. In Sofia, she also held the positions of Director of the Security Policy Directorate, Ambassador-at-Large for the Black Sea Region, Director of the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Organizations Directorate, and Spokesperson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In between her years at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Poptodorova was elected four times as a Member of the National Assembly (Parliament) of Bulgaria, serving from 1990 to 2001. Among other assignments, she was a member of the Foreign Policy and National Security Committees, as well as the Deputy Chair of the Bulgarian delegation to the International Parliamentary Union, and a member of the national delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Joint Parliamentary Committee "Bulgaria-EU."
She is a graduate of the University of Sofia with a B.A. and M.A. in English and Italian linguistic and literary studies. She is fluent in Bulgarian, English, Italian, Russian, and French.
Among the many awards and honors she has received are the Gold Medal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for her contributions to Bulgaria's accession to the European Union; the Gold Medal of Bulgaria's Atlantic Club for promoting Bulgaria's membership in NATO; and the Medal of Honor of Bulgaria's Ministry of Interior for her contributions to establishing the rule of law and advancing national and European security. She is a Trustee of the American University in Bulgaria.
AJC's other European offices are in Berlin, Brussels, Paris, and Rome. AJC Europe, based in Paris, is directed by Simone Rodan-Benzaquen. The global Jewish advocacy organization has five other international posts in South America, Asia, and the Middle East, and maintains 22 Regional Offices across the U.S., as well as 32 partnership agreements with Jewish communities around the globe.
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SOURCE American Jewish Committee