President, Israel Democracy Institute
Yohanan (Johan) Plesner is President of the Israel Democracy Institute. Plesner grew up in Jerusalem and served as a soldier and officer in the IDF’s elite “Sayeret Matkal” unit, in which he still serves as an active officer in reserve duty. He graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Economics from the Amirim Program for Excellence at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He also holds an MPA in Political Economy and International Security from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. His business experience includes time as a senior analyst position at a management consulting firm in London, UK (1998-2000), as well as a role of co-founder and CEO at an international enterprise software company based in Israel, Canada, and the US. In 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appointed Plesner Head of Special Projects in the Prime Minister’s Office. In 2006, he became the first Secretary-General of Israel’s new ruling party, Kadima, and spearheaded the creation of the party’s organizational infrastructure. From 2007 to 2013, he served as a Member of Knesset and was a member of the Constitution, Law and Justice, and Defense and Foreign Affairs Committees, Co-chair of the Knesset Lobby for Higher Education, and Chairman of the Knesset’s permanent delegation to the Council of Europe.
In 2012, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Plesner to head the Committee for Equality in the Burden of Service, which produced a blueprint for incorporating the ultra-Orthodox community into military and national service, one of the most complex social-economic challenges facing the state of Israel.