About American Friends of The Hebrew University (AFHU)

American Friends of The Hebrew University (AFHU) was founded in 1925 by the American businessman and philanthropist, Felix M. Warburg. A national, not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization headquartered in New York City, AFHU raises awareness of and support for The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel’s research powerhouse and most comprehensive institution of higher learning. Through the philanthropic leadership of American Friends from coast to coast, AFHU helps the university to recruit and retain outstanding faculty, build teaching and research facilities, provide scholarships and fellowships, and advance basic and applied research in myriad vital fields. AFHU’s national and regional programs, events, and missions to Israel promote greater appreciation of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s breadth and scope of achievements, and the university’s pivotal role in educating leaders for the State of Israel.   By nurturing Israel’s greatest natural resource – the intellectual strength of its people—AFHU helps The Hebrew University to improve human health, lead the way with agricultural innovation, spearhead the latest breakthroughs in brain sciences and illuminate the world through the humanities.

Beth Asnien McCoy, AFHU National Executive Director

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Beth Asnien McCoy is National Executive Director of American Friends of the Hebrew University, a leadership role she assumed in 2014, after more than a decade with AFHU. In this executive capacity, Ms. McCoy spearheads national efforts to raise support for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is also highly instrumental in fostering awareness of Hebrew University among the American public. Under her leadership, AFHU raised $50 million during Fiscal Year 2016 in support of Hebrew University priorities, including scholarships, fellowships, faculty development, research, and new facilities.

As National Executive Director, Ms. McCoy partners with AFHU’s National President, Marc O. Mayer, board members, and AFHU’s professional team to fulfill the organization’s mission in all its aspects, including financial transparency and compliance as a 501 c (3) nonprofit organization. She works to strengthen AFHU’s national and regional boards and shapes AFHU’s annual campaign and targeted outreach strategies. Working with lay leaders on AFHU’s Executive, Budget and Finance, Investment, and Audit committees, she superintends AFHU’s comprehensive operations, always fostering a close partnership between AFHU and the Hebrew University. Other responsibilities include supervising foundation and corporate outreach, planned giving initiatives, marketing activities, and AFHU major events and missions in support of the university.

Ms. McCoy joined AFHU in 2003 as Executive Director of the Southeast Region and became AFHU’s National Director of Development in 2007. In this latter role, she supervised AFHU’s regional Executive Directors, advanced AFHU’s national campaign, expanded focus on major and principal gifts, revitalized planned giving outreach and promoted missions to Israel. Ms. McCoy established a strong partnership between AFHU and the Hebrew University, orchestrating campaigns to support the work of the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment and the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences, among other university initiatives.

Ms. McCoy holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Hofstra University and has more than 25 years of professional experience raising support for cause-related missions. Prior to joining AFHU, she served as the Arizona Regional Director of Development for the Anti-Defamation League. Her career has included leadership roles as Executive Director of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (Arizona) and as the Tri-State Regional Director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (New York). Ms. McCoy and her husband, Dennis, reside in New York City and have two adult sons.

Beth McCoy can be reached at bmccoy@afhu.org

Our History

Felix Warburg – Founder and first President of AFHU

Felix Warburg, AFHU

Almost 30 years before there was a State of Israel, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem was born.  It was a dream of visionaries Albert Einstein, Chaim Weizmann, Sigmund Freud and Martin Buber based on an idea conceived before the start of the twentieth century – to create a center of higher learning in the tradition of the great Jewish academies of old. Prior to its opening in 1925, the university already had found an enthusiastic group of U.S. patrons. Led by Felix Warburg, the era’s pre-eminent Jewish leader, a group of influential Americans organized the American Advisory Committee, with Mr. Warburg as its chairman. In 1924, the Warburgs visited the university’s original campus on Mount Scopus with Judah Magnes, Hebrew University’s first chancellor and president. Inspired by Magnes’ vision of the creation of a great Jewish university in Jerusalem, the Warburgs established the first major endowment fund for the university, a contribution that still produces income which enables students to pursue their studies at the university’s Institute of Jewish Studies. In 1931, the Committee was incorporated as the American Friends of The Hebrew University, with Mr. Warburg as its first president. Hebrew University’s growth entails a history of cooperation with many Jewish organizations. The American Jewish Physicians Committee, organized in 1921 as the result of a visit to the United States by Albert Einstein, helped finance the Institutes of Microbiology and Chemistry and later worked with Hadassah to establish a Medical School at the university. In the 1930s, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, became a major partner in supporting medical research at Hebrew University. Other organizations that have worked with AFHU include: the National Council of Jewish Women; the Women’s League for Israel; the P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc., and the Alpha Omega Fraternity, which supported the creation of The Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine. AFHU has always based its success on the individuals who identify with its work. 

See a visual history of AFHU.