On February 20th, 2006 AmeriCorps lost one of its greatest champions and America one of its greatest social innovators to mesothelioma, a type of cancer. Eli Segal is revered within the AmeriCorps and larger national service community as the father of AmeriCorps and lifetime supporter of national service as a strategy to get things done in our communities. Eli served as Assistant to the President of the United States from January 1993 to February 1996. In this capacity, he was responsible for the design and enactment of the legislation, which created AmeriCorps. In October 1993, Eli was confirmed by the United States Senate to the become the first Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National Service where he lead the implementation of AmeriCorps in its early stages.
Eli leaves an incredible legacy of social entrepreneurship and leadership in connecting American business and the public sector to create innovative solutions to our nation’s toughest problems. In addition to AmeriCorps Eli created The Welfare to Work Partnership, a nonpartisan organization of the American business community committed to hiring and retaining former welfare recipients. In recognition of his work for AmeriCorps and the Welfare to Work Partnership, President Clinton presented Mr. Segal with the Presidential Citizen's Medal, at a White House Ceremony in January 2001. In May 2002, he received the Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. Award for Exemplary Public Service.
Mr. Segal’s leadership extended to the private sector as well where he brought his social entrepreneurship to the boardroom of corporations like Hasbro Inc., hotels.com, Citizens Financial Group, Fannie Mae, and Stonebridge International LLC.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Segal received his Bachelor's degree from Brandeis University in 1964 and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan Law School in 1967. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis N. Segal, and two children, Jonathan (married to Pamela Lehmberg) and Mora and one grandchild, Jackson.
Eli always imbued the idealism that is at the heart of the promise of national service. When asked about the AmeriCorps oath, Eli replied: “They will be pledging, essentially, as AmeriCorps members, that they will get things done in their communities, that they will do what they can to fight apathy, and to improve the communities in which they are serving.”
Eli once said that AmeriCorps was created to fight America’s “twin diseases of apathy and despair” and because of his lifetime of service, nearly 400,000 Americans have answered the call to serve and taken the AmeriCorps pledge.
Mr. Segal has been a powerful force in shaping individuals, organizations, and a new generation of public servants and social entrepreneurs. His lifetime of service and commitment to civic change serve as both an inspiration and challenge to all of us to maximize our capacity to be change agents.
In lieu of flowers, the Segal family has graciously asked that donations be made to AmeriCorps Alums. To make a contribution to AmeriCorps Alums in memory of Eli Segal, please click here.