Mark Hetfield Named Interim President & CEO of HIAS

Posted on Fri, May 18, 2012 at 15:02 pm

(New York, NY) – Marc Silberberg, Chairman of the Board of HIAS, the global migration agency of the American Jewish community, today announced that Gideon Aronoff, President & CEO, will be stepping down, effective May 31, 2012. Mark Hetfield, Senior Vice President for Policy & Programs, has been named interim President & CEO while a search for Aronoff’s successor is underway. Aronoff, who has been with HIAS since 2000 and in the most senior position since 2006, is leaving to spend more time with his young family.

According to Silberberg, “It is with sadness that I have accepted Gideon’s resignation. We are supportive of his need to balance his deep humanitarian passion for social justice and concern for the world’s most vulnerable with his personal commitments.

“Gideon led the agency through a strategic transition, positioning HIAS to address the 21st century needs of the Jewish community and refugees and migrants of all faiths and backgrounds. His work built on the agency’s historic legacy and laid the foundation for continued growth and service in the years to come. We thank him and wish him the best in his future endeavors.

“In its 130th year, HIAS is a vital and vibrant agency, which has stayed true to its original mission of helping Jewish migrants, while expanding its expertise and services to five continents. We are confident that HIAS is on firm footing with the interim appointment as President & CEO of Mark Hetfield, who has been associated with HIAS since 1989 and is the consummate refugee law and immigration professional.”


During his tenure at HIAS, Gideon Aronoff greatly advanced the full spectrum of HIAS’ operations, functions, and role in the public arena. Among his many accomplishments were: the wide expansion of HIAS’ humanitarian, protection, resettlement, and advocacy programs within an integrated vision that serves fundamental Jewish interests and universal values; the creation of HIAS’ National Center for New Americans, diversification of HIAS’ refugee resettlement caseload to include new populations such as Jews from Yemen and Darfuri genocide survivors; the transformation of HIAS’ Washington, DC representative from a small presence into a dynamic, multifaceted legislative and administrative advocacy office and interfaith and interethnic coalition-building and community relations program; the establishment of a comprehensive, broad-based fundraising program with a newly launched major gifts society; and strategic planning and branding activities to update HIAS’ global mission, vision, goals, visual identity, and messaging platforms to promote the agency and its mission of service, advocacy, and education.

Since 1989, Mark Hetfield has held a wide range of positions in the field of immigration and refugee law in the private, non-profit, and government sectors, including four non-consecutive positions at HIAS. In his most recent role as Senior VP for Policy & Programs, he administered all HIAS’ overseas and domestic programs and managed the development and implementation of policies, especially HIAS’ role as an advocate for migrants and immigration legislation.

Hetfield began his career serving as a Russian-speaking HIAS caseworker in Rome, Italy for Soviet Jewish applicants. He later rejoined the agency as its Washington, DC representative, and again as its director of International Operations at HIAS Headquarters in New York. For three years prior to rejoining HIAS in April of 2006, Hetfield was on the staff of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, where he was the Commission’s senior advisor on refugee issues and directed a Congressionally authorized study on the treatment of asylum seekers in Expedited Removal, which was released in February 2005. Later that year, Hetfield and his team were awarded the Arthur C. Helton Award for the Advancement of Human Rights for thesStudy by the American Immigration Lawyers Association. In addition, Hetfield served for five years in the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Washington, DC and at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti. He also practiced immigration law while associated with the Washington D.C. office of the law firm of Fulbright and Jaworski. Hetfield holds a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service and a JD, both from Georgetown University.

Mark is married to Miriam Jawitz Hetfield. They and their two children have been active members of Monmouth Reform Temple and Bethesda Jewish Congregation.