On his first day working on Cory Booker’s campaign for mayor of the troubled city of Newark, N.J., in 2002, Jonathan Perelman’s car was stolen. But that didn’t weaken the University of Pennsylvania graduate (’04) and Connecticut native’s commitment to helping Booker challenge the political establishment in what would be an unsuccessful first attempt. (Booker won four years later.) Perelman borrowed a friend’s car and served as a deputy finance director in a campaign that was later the subject of a 2005 Oscar-nominated documentary, “Street Fight.”
Perelman is proud of his work on that campaign, which came about when his now-wife Alexandra, a Teach for America volunteer in Newark at the time, introduced him to Booker, then a city councilman. “We had an immediate connection,” he said.
They have been friends ever since, and in 2008 Perelman invited the mayor to keynote the inaugural gala of ACCESS NY, the American Jewish Committee’s young leadership organization devoted to global diplomacy and bridge building, of which Perelman is a co-chair.
These days Perelman, a father of two young sons and a Tribeca resident, works at search giant Google, Inc., where, as part of its Global Industry Relations team, he is responsible for brand initiatives and relationship management. His global focus was enhanced by a stint in London working for Member of Parliament Clive Efford in 2001, and he returned last year to help with Efford’s re-election.
He views ACESS NY as a “State Department of the Jewish people. We want people not just to have a seat at the table but to be involved in the workings of the AJC.” The group holds sessions with local dignitaries and foreign diplomats, some of them from Arab countries. Perelman uses his professional expertise to fully employ social media to expand the group’s reach. He’s running unopposed for re-election as chairman next year. No word on whether Mayor Booker will volunteer for the campaign.
Epilogue: Perelman’s car was located by a Booker staffer through old connections, but the parts could not be reassembled. Kudos: He won an award last year from Google’s Operating Committee, the company’s most senior executive body, for his work in acquiring the firm AdMob, and is a member of the Council of Judges for the Advertising Hall of Fame.