Eytan Davidson believes that his family history and professional resume will serve him well as he becomes Southeast regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, leading that organization’s efforts in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
“It was in many ways the perfect opportunity,” Davidson told the AJT. “It let me continue to fight for justice in a way that was not just a furthering of a career but very personal to me as well.”
Effective July 18, Davidson succeeds Allison Padilla-Goodman, who will assume full-time duties as vice president of ADL’s Southern division, which encompasses five regional offices, and serve on ADL’s national leadership team.
Davidson most recently has been the vice president for communications and policy at Purpose Built Communities, an Atlanta-based national organization focused on breaking the intergenerational cycle of urban poverty. He previously served as communications director for Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., and began his career working on the mayoral campaign and in the administration of then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Locally, Davidson served as the first vice president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta and on the boards of Jewish Kids Groups, the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival (now called Neranenah), and Limmud Atlanta & Southeast.
“I have worked in public service. I have worked for non-profit organizations that are trying to improve conditions in neighborhoods so that people can achieve greater racial equity, health outcomes, and upward economic mobility,” the 45-year-old New York native said. “At the same time, as somebody who has now lived in the South for almost 15 years, coming from New York, I’ve had to work hard to not only maintain a Jewish identity but connect my family to a Jewish community, in an intentional way. Looking at what has been happening in our country and in our politics, it feels like now is the time to bring my skills into this world and work with the ADL to battle antisemitism and bigotry.”
Davidson’s appointment was reported first by the Saporta Report.
The ADL reported earlier this year that the number of antisemitic incidents nationally increased 34 percent in 2021, compared with 2020, and increased 74 percent in its four-state Southeast region.
A 133 percent increase was reported in Georgia, with 49 reported incidents in 2021, compared with 21 the year before.
“I think continuing to focus on forging and strengthening partnerships with other organizations and institutions is going to be critical because this is an all-hands-on-deck moment,” not just in fighting antisemitism but also other forms of bigotry, Davidson said.
“I also see a big part of the job is trying to bring some unity, some consensus around what is not acceptable. People have gotten way too comfortable seeing symbols of hate and hateful rhetoric,” he said.
Growing up, Davidson heard about the effect of such symbols and rhetoric from the stories of his grandparents. His mother’s parents both survived the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz before meeting at a displaced persons camp in Freiberg, Germany. His father’s parents were children when they fled antisemitism and pogroms in Poland and Ukraine.
“These stories have been part of my life since the very beginning. In 2019, I went to Poland for the first time, with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs [through its Frank Family Leadership Institute for Emerging Leaders], and to Auschwitz, where both of my grandparents had been prisoners,” Davidson said. “One can imagine that the impact that trip had on me was profound, what it took for them to survive in those conditions and in that place, it made me feel like I had to do more and whatever I could … For me the fight for social justice is not something abstract, but something I feel like everybody has to do in their own way. Thinking about my own family history, I have certain skills that can be helpful.”
In a statement, Padilla-Goodman said, “I am thrilled to bring Eytan to our team and to entrust this region’s important work to his great leadership. Eytan is a strong, community-rooted leader who will lead the Southeast in fighting hatred and bigotry in a crucial time. We have important work to do to ensure the future of democracy, the rooting out of hatred and extremism, and the building of communities of allies and advocates moving forward— and Eytan is a key leader in helping us get there.”
Davidson and his wife Monique are the parents of two teenagers and are members of Congregation Bet Haverim. Davidson also is a guitarist, music producer, and founding member of “Her Majesty’s Request,” a band that performs covers of British rock and pop tunes.
- Dave Schechter
- Eytan Davidson
- Anti-Defamation League
- Allison Padilla-Goodman
- Purpose Built Communities
- Atlanta BeltLine
- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
- Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta
- Jewish Kids Groups
- the Atlanta Jewish Music Festival
- Limmud Atlanta + Southeast
- World War II
- Jewish Council for Public Affairs
- Frank Family Leadership Institute for Emerging Leaders
- Congregation Bet Haverim
- Her Majesty’s Request