Bennett joins Condoleezza Rice, Dr. Najat Arafat Khelil, and Susan Rice as women who helped shape the course of modern American foreign policy and human rights.
The AARP® Purpose Prize® award supports AARP's mission by honoring extraordinary people ages 50 and older who tap into the power of life experience to build a better future for us all.
TED speaker Dr. Georgette Bennett is an award-winning sociologist, widely published author, popular lecturer, and former broadcast journalist. An innovative and entrepreneurial leader, she is an active philanthropist focusing on conflict resolution and intergroup relations.
In 2013, Bennett founded the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA) which has since worked to raise awareness and mobilize more than $300 million of humanitarian aid benefitting more than three million Syrian war victims. In 1992, she founded the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, the go-to organization for combatting religious prejudice.
She is a co-founder of the Global Covenant of Religions/Global Covenant Partners, which focuses on delegitimizing the use of religion to justify violence and extremism. To that end, Bennett served in the U.S. State Department Religion and Foreign Policy initiative’s working group on conflict mitigation, tasked with developing recommendations for the U.S. Secretary of State on countering religion-based violence.
She is Immediate Past Chair of the Jewish Funders Network and serves on the Board of Third Way. In addition, she is an Advisory Board member for the International Rescue Committee and the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Bennett was a winner of a 2020 AARP Purpose Prize for her work with MFA. In 2021, she was selected as one of Forbes’ 50 over 50 Women of Impact.
A widely published author, popular lecturer, broadcast journalist, and public affairs/marketing specialist, TED speaker Dr. Georgette Bennett is an innovative and entrepreneurial leader.
Founder and President of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, Dr. Bennett is a sociologist by training who has spent the past 30 years advancing interreligious relations. She founded Tanenbaum in 1992, where she initiated its signature programs. Under her leadership, it has become the go-to organization for practical, cutting-edge programs that combat religion-based hatred and misunderstanding in schools, workplaces, areas of armed conflict and healthcare settings.
Tanenbaum’s education programs were designated an International Best Practice and the Peacemakers in Action program has advanced the field of religion and conflict resolution through its case study method and international network. Tanenbaum’s healthcare programs have pioneered the religious dimension of patient-centered care. The Tanenbaum Center literally wrote the Medical Manual on Religio-Cultural Competency, which has been distributed to more than 100,000 healthcare providers in the U.S. and is also available electronically.
In 2013, Dr. Bennett founded the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, utilizing the moral authority of religious leaders to mobilize support for alleviating the suffering of Syria's war victims. Today, there are over 100 partner organizations in MFA and it has delivered more than $225 million of aid to Syrians.
Dr. Bennett was also a founding Board member of Global Covenant Partners, the umbrella for the Global Covenant of Religions, where she served as Treasurer. GCR is made up of an international group of top interfaith leaders who are working to delegitimize the use of religion as a justification for violent extremism. In addition, Dr. Bennett served in the U.S. State Department Religion and Foreign Policy initiative’s working group on conflict mitigation, which was tasked with developing recommendations for the U.S. Secretary of State on countering religion-based violence. Most recently, Dr. Bennett joined the national boards of Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council and Inter Jewish Muslim Alliance as well as the Board of the Center for Peace Communications.
Dr. Bennett is a 2020 winner of the prestigious AARP Purpose Prize. In 2019, New York University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences honored her with the Alumni Achievement Award and was awarded the Global Impact Award from a joint initiative of the Society for International Development (SID) Israel, Walla! News, OLAM, and additional partners. In February 2015, the Syrian American Medical Society recognized her for her work on behalf of Syrian refugees. During the same month, she was invited to give the inaugural lecture to launch the Faith Centre at the London School of Economics (LSE). Dr. Bennett’s presentations at LSE, Cambridge University, the Chautauqua Institute, and with the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks at New York University, are but a few of the many distinguished venues where she has been invited to speak. Dr. Bennett delivered the keynote address at the 2015 NGO Conference at the United Nations, calling on NGOs and the UN to respond to the Syrian refugee disaster and a growing global migration crisis.
An active philanthropist, Dr. Bennett focuses her personal charitable activities on conflict resolution and intergroup relations. She also serves as Trustee of the Polonsky Foundation in London, which funds higher education and the arts. The Polonsky Foundation provides lead funding for numerous projects that digitize rare manuscripts at institutions including Oxford University, Cambridge University, the Hebrew University, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the New York Public Library, the British Library, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France and the Vatican Library, among others.
Dr. Bennett is Immediate Past Chair of the Jewish Funders Network, where she was previously Vice Chair of the Board, Chair of the Membership Committee, and co-chair of the 2015 Annual Conference. She also serves on the board of Third Way and is an Advisory Board member of the International Rescue Committee, where she was the lead funder of the refugee agency’s West Bank Healing Classrooms Project. Until recently, she served on the Dean’s Advisory Council of NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and currently serves as an Advisor to the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue at the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Earlier in her life, Dr. Bennett had a career in finance. In the 1970s, she managed a $1.3 billion budget for the New York City Office of Management and Budget as the head of its Criminal Justice Task Force. She also served as a consultant to Chemical Bank’s Operations Division. In the 1980s she had a successful banking career as Chief Marketing Officer and head of the Private Bank for The First Women’s Bank in New York.
Dr. Bennett has previously been affiliated with the Center for Policy Research in New York and the Center for Investigative Reporting in San Francisco. As a television and radio commentator, she was a Network Correspondent for NBC News and host of Walter Cronkite's PBS current affairs series, "Why in the World?" She created three of her own syndicated radio programs and was a regular commentator for WNET and Metromedia "10 O'Clock News." In addition, she created stories for ABC “20/20,” CBS “60 Minutes,” PBS “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour.”
She previously served as Coordinator for Training and Evaluation and Personal Consultant to the Police Commissioner, New York City Police Department. A former faculty member of the City University of New York, Dr. Bennett taught sociology, criminology, evaluation and action research, in addition to other courses. She also taught in NYU’s School of Education.
Dr. Bennett has a BA from Vassar College and Ph.D. from New York University. She also has an advanced Banking degree from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking, with top honors.
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