Dan Libenson is the founder and president of the Institute for the Next Jewish Future and co-host of the popular Judaism Unbound podcast (consistently at the top of the iTunes chart of the top 200 Judaism podcasts), which aims to catalyze and support grassroots efforts by “disaffected but hopeful” American Jews to re-imagine and re-design Jewish life in America for the 21st century.
Dan’s extensive background in Jewish communal innovation includes six years as Executive Director of the University of Chicago Hillel, three years as Director of New Initiatives at Harvard Hillel, and four years as Founding Director of jU: Jewish U. While Executive Director of the University of Chicago Hillel, Dan was awarded Hillel International’s Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award (Hillel’s highest professional award) and was named “Jewish Chicagoan of the Year” by the Chicago Jewish News (in 2010).
In 2009, Dan became one of only ten Jewish leaders ever awarded the prestigious AVI CHAI Fellowship (which included an unrestricted three-year grant of $225,000) by the Avi Chai Foundation. He has also been a fellow at the Mandel Leadership Institute and at the Shalom Hartman Institute.
Dan graduated cum laude from Harvard College and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he served as an articles editor on the Harvard Law Review and assisted Professor Alan Dershowitz on legal matters and book projects, including The Vanishing American Jew; he also served as a research assistant for Professor Laurence Tribe and for Professor Morton Horwitz at Harvard Law School. After clerking for Judge Michael Boudin on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Dan spent five years as a law professor, three at the University of St. Thomas, a Catholic law school in Minnesota, and two at Willamette University in Oregon.
Dan has published articles on Jewish innovation in Ha’aretz, The New York Jewish Week, Zeek, eJewishPhilanthropy, and other publications, as well as various book chapters, including “Right-Skilling Rabbis” (with Barak Richman) in Hayim Herring’s Keeping Faith in Rabbis. He has been a member of the faculty of the Foundation for Jewish Camp’s Cornerstone Fellowship since 2013 and has also spoken at and led workshops for many local and national organizations. He recently served as translation editor for the English edition of Yochi Brandes’s The Secret Book of Kings (St. Martin’s Press 2016) (one of the bestselling novels in Israel’s history) and lead translator for The Orchard by the same author (Gefen Publishing, forthcoming 2017).
Dan lives in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago with his wife and two children (14 and 11).