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Americans for Ben-Gurion University Announces President-Elect

Americans for Ben-Gurion University Announces President-Elect

May 21, 2020

Leadership, Awards & Events, Press Releases

Gary S. DeBode was elected president of American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Americans for Ben-Gurion University) at a board meeting held virtually on May 7, 2020. DeBode will begin his term following Americans for Ben-Gurion University’s annual meeting on September 15, 2020.

Gary resides in Summit, New Jersey and will succeed New York City resident Toni Young, who is becoming a vice chairperson on Ben-Gurion University’s board of governors.

Americans for Ben-Gurion University is a national organization based in Manhattan that works across the United States to raise awareness and funds for Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU).

DeBode currently serves on Americans for Ben-Gurion University’s board of directors. He became involved with the organization through the Zin Fellows Leadership Program – an innovative program designed to build a community of “next generation leaders” who are committed to furthering David Ben-Gurion’s vision for Israel’s Negev region.

“I am honored and excited to join CEO Doug Seserman in leading Americans for Ben-Gurion University, which is focused on realizing David Ben-Gurion’s vision for the Negev as a center for research and innovation in Israel and is the heartbeat of twenty-first century Zionism,” DeBode says.

“During these uncertain times, I am more passionate than ever about the opportunity to help share what the University and the Negev region offer the world. I also want to thank Toni Young for her incredible leadership over the last four years.”

DeBode has more than 20 years of experience in the real estate business. He founded Gallium Real Estate in 2015 to co-invest in and develop multi-family residential and self-storage projects. He was previously the chief executive officer and currently serves on the board of Edison Properties, a real estate development and operating company that owns and operates Manhattan Mini Storage and Edison ParkFast.

Previously, he worked for Tishman Realty and Construction as a project engineer on commercial projects in Atlantic City, Jersey City and Manhattan. He started his career in the U.S. Navy, where he served as a naval nuclear submarine officer. DeBode earned a B.S. degree in computer science from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland in 1984. He is married to Archie Gottesman and has three daughters: Lilli, Sophie and Ella.

Among his many accomplishments, DeBode has served organizations with leadership roles on the board of directors and as president of the Self-Storage Association, as chairman of the board of the New York City-based Partnership for the Homeless, and on the Real Estate Board of New York.

He has focused his volunteer service in education on the boards of Philips Academy Charter School, Schools That Can, KIPP:New Jersey, and BRICK Education in Newark – four organizations working to change lives through effective cross sector education in our cities.

His Jewish affiliated nonprofit service has been on the boards of Partnership for Jewish Learning and Life, MetroWest Jewish Camp Enterprise, and as co-chair of the Tour de Summer Camps New Jersey in Greater MetroWest Federation.

Doug Seserman, Americans for Ben-Gurion University chief executive officer, says, “Gary DeBode is the first alum of the Zin leadership program to become president of Americans for Ben-Gurion University. I’m proud of Gary and delighted for all the Zin alumni. The program is truly a national model for a new generation of leadership for Jewish organizations.

“I look forward to being Gary’s professional partner in advancing the work of Americans for Ben-Gurion University in the relentless pursuit of David Ben-Gurion’s vision for Israel and in support of the university that bears his name.

“I am also thrilled Toni Young will be taking on a global role for BGU. As vice chairperson for the university, she will be tasked to help BGU develop its global fundraising efforts. I can’t think of anyone better qualified for the position.”


By supporting a world-class academic institution that not only nurtures the Negev, but also shares its expertise locally and globally, Americans for Ben-Gurion University engages a community of Americans who are committed to improving the world. David Ben-Gurion envisioned that Israel’s future would be forged in the Negev. The cutting-edge research carried out at Ben-Gurion University drives that vision by sustaining a desert Silicon Valley, with the “Stanford of the Negev” at its center. The Americans for Ben-Gurion University movement supports a 21st century unifying vision for Israel by rallying around BGU’s remarkable work and role as an apolitical beacon of light in the Negev desert.

About Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev embraces the endless potential we have as individuals and as a commonality to adapt and to thrive in changing environments. Inspired by our location in the desert, we aim to discover, to create, and to develop solutions to dynamic challenges, to pose questions that have yet to be asked, and to push beyond the boundaries of the commonly accepted and possible.

We are proud to be a central force for inclusion, diversity and innovation in Israel, and we strive to extend the Negev’s potential and our entrepreneurial spirit throughout the world. For example, the multi-disciplinary School for Sustainability and Climate Change at BGU leverages over 50 years of expertise on living and thriving in the desert into scalable solutions for people everywhere.

BGU at a glance:  

20,000 students | 800 senior faculty | 3 campuses | 6 faculties: humanities & social sciences, health sciences, engineering sciences, natural sciences, business & management, and desert research.


For all press inquiries, please contact:

James Fattal, J Cubed Communications


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