Originally reported by Joel Boyce in the Windsor Star Here
We have immense pride in our relatively small but impacting Jewish community. Congrats to Mr. Nosanchuk on his appointment, and congrats to his dad, retired Judge Saul Nosanchuk.
Windsor native Matt Nosanchuk was recently appointed White House liaison to the U.S. Jewish Community and, according to his father, a better person could not have been picked for the job.
Hes very knowledgeable with the Jewish community and is very sensitive to what the Jewish people are concerned about, said retired Ontario court Judge Saul Nosanchuk.
When Matt was eight, his dad took him to Washington, D.C. for a vacation. Matt had been studying history of former presidents and wanted to see the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and other D.C. attractions.
He was captivated by Washington, Saul said.
Fast forward many years later, and Matt, 48, is now working in the White House for the Obama administration. From 2009 to 2012, the Stanford University law school grad worked in the Justice Departments civil rights division, where he helped shape the Obama administrations response to a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.
Now, hes been appointed to serve as liaison to the American Jewish community as associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Were the front door to the White House, Matt said. Were the office that interacts with the public at large, and Im the liaison representing the president to the Jewish community.
Matt, son of Saul and Dr. Marcia Gilroy, was born in Windsor. He grew up in the Detroit area but was a frequent visitor to Windsor. By age 17, before his senior year of high school, he was back in Washington interning with U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan.
Now a lawyer, he has worked in the Obama administration since 2009, both in the assistant Lawyer generals office and in the justice department. In his new position he replaces Zach Kelley, who served as interim Jewish liaison following the exit of Jarrod Bernstein, the last full-time liaison, who left the position in January.
I work to facilitate a robust two-way dialogue, Matt said. I inform the public, the American Jewish community, what is happening in the White House and what priorities and policies President Obama is pursing that are of interest them. In turn, I look to them to tell me what is important to them and pass along that input to the President and his advisors.
Some of the current issues involving the White House that may concern the Jewish community include the strong push for comprehensive immigration reform, the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on reaching a peace agreement, and most recently, the developments in Syria with the use of chemical weapons.
You might say I have fortuitous timing, Matt said, taking the position during a critical time in the White House. There are significant developments taking place that are of great interest to the Jewish community.
Matt has also played a prominent role in developing and implementing the Obama administrations policies on LGBT rights issues. From 2009 to 2012, he helped shape the Obama administrations position regarding the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited same sex couples from receiving Federal recognition or benefits. The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the act last month, resulting in the extension of federal rights to same-sex couples.
The effort to achieve LGBT equality is a defining civil rights challenge of the 21st century, he said. Under President Obama, the progress for gay rights during this Administration has been unprecedented and historic and I have been fortunate to be able to play a part in that from implementing the new federal hate crimes law to the successful constitutional challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act which resulted from the Justice Departments decision to stop defending the law.
From concerns involving the Jewish community, affordable healthcare or same-sex equality, he said he wants to provide every opportunity in engaging with the President and the community.
The American Jewish community cares about a lot of issues, Matt said. One of the objectives of public engagement is reaching community leaders and the grass-roots of our community throughout the nation. We want to bring in as many voices as we can.
Saul said his son has a soft spot for both the White House and the Jewish community. Together, in 2002, they travelled to the village in Belarus, where Sauls family grew up. They visited the field where Matts great-grandparents were killed during the Holocaust and had a memorial service. According to Saul, Matt was moved by the experience. Matt has since worked on issues of importance to Holocaust survivors over the course of his career in Washington.
Hes had a good grounding in Jewish life, Saul said. Im very proud he has that position. Its a responsible position and hell work very hard there.
Matt said he definitely keeps busy there, working around the clock to ensure everyone is satisfied.
The White House is truly one of those places where there is never a dull moment, Matt said.