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Dr. Judith Richter


Nominated by:

  • Efi Haber
  • Senior Vice President, HR and Infrastructure
  • Medinol / NIR School of the Heart

Biography

Dr. Richter is an accomplished entrepreneur and among Israel’s most distinguished business leaders. In 1993, Dr. Richter co-founded Medinol, a global medical device company that acquired a significant international position in the Interventional Cardiology and stenting industry. She has served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer since its founding. She is also a co-founder of Medcon (acquired by McKassen), Microtech Medical Technologies and Valve Medical.Dr. Judith Richter’s extensive business experience was preceded by a career in the academia. She served as a faculty member at Tel Aviv University Graduate School of Business, where she specialized in Corporate Strategy and Organizational Behavior. Dr. Richter served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for 10 years. Today she serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and was nominated to the board of Tel-Aviv University. In recognition for her exceptional contribution to Israel’s economic, industrial and technological development, Dr. Richter was awarded the Ramniceanu Prize in Economics by Tel-Aviv University. She was also the recipient of an Honorary Fellow Distinction from the Hebrew University. Recently she was named an Honorary Fellow of the Academic Institute Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, in 2018. Dr. Richter has served on the boards of several leading industrial companies, including Bezeq and Mobileye (the largest acquisition by Intel recently). Dr. Judith Richter is engaged in a variety of NGO activities in the arts and humanities, including: founding and sponsoring The Richter Quartet of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, sponsoring the Israeli Women’s National Volleyball Team, nurturing holocaust survivors living in Jerusalem and supporting the youth Israeli Scouts, for which she was awarded an Honorary Scout. In the summer of 1998, Dr. Judith Richter realized her vision when she founded the NIR School of the Heart, bright ray of hope in a region where prejudice and violence are present in the hearts of too many people. The NIR School is a unique academic and social program, that assembles teenagers from different backgrounds to learn the basics of cardiology. Despite times of great tension in the region, the NIR School has operated continuously, and today is proud to have more than 800 graduates, and more than 25% of these graduates are pursuing careers as physicians or other medical-related professions. A graduate of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Dr. Richter holds a PhD from Boston University. She is married to Dr. Jacob (Kobi) Richter and a proud mother of three children.


Information about the policy, programme or initiative

1. Please describe a policy(s), programme(s) or initiative(s) that the Nominee (or the company the Nominee leads/led) has launched or spearheaded to advance the company’s efforts to champion interfaith understanding and peace.

For more than 20 years, the NIR School of the Heart has been a bright ray of hope in a region where prejudice and violence are present in the hearts of far too many people. The NIR School was founded by Dr. Judith Richter, CEO of a medical device company, fulfilling her lifelong dream to promote knowledge and creativity among young people in the fields of science and medicine, and, to encourage those students to build bridges across cultures through with the process of learning. The NIR School is a unique academic and social program, that assembles teenagers from different cultural and religious backgrounds to learn the basics of cardiology. Every year, the NIR School accepts students – Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians – to learn and grow together. From the first moment they arrive, the program begins breaking down barriers by placing students in culturally diverse learning groups. The competitiveness between the groups and the passion to succeed, encourage collaboration within each group. The students experience and learn to respect cultural differences, overcome prejudices and learn to understand that they are stronger and more innovative when they rely on each other.

The NIR School’s academic program was developed by Prof. Elazer Edelman from the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science at MIT. World-class cardiologists, from the United States and the Middle East, volunteer their time to travel to the region and teach. In addition to the basic scientific knowledge that they acquire, the students also work independently and are challenged to design new cardiologic solutions, in a way that sparks their imagination and creativity. Despite times of great tension in the region, the NIR School has operated continuously, and today is proud to have more than 800 graduates. More than 25% of Nir School graduates are pursuing careers as physicians or other medical-related professions. The success of the NIR School of the Heart provides a new model that can be replicated in other regions or areas of the world where conflict has formed a barrier to peace and cooperation. This academic, practical and social education can build bridges wherever people face tension and prejudice. For more than two decades, NIR students, in the heart of the Middle East, have proven that opening hearts and greater understanding are possible.

2. Which category or categories does the policy(s), programme(s) or initiative(s) fall into:

  • – Core Business
  • – Social Investment and Philanthropy
  • – Advocacy and Public Policy Engagement
  • – Partnerships and Collective Action

3. Does the policy(s), programme(s) or initiative(s) address any of the following related to Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB):

  • – Promote sustainable and innovative business through protecting Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB)
  • – Non-discrimination and/or non-harassment on the basis of religion or belief
  • – Protecting and promoting freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) in the community

4. Please describe the objective of the policy(s), programme(s) or initiative(s) and the need, goal or gap that it was designed to address. 

Objective of the Program:
Every year the NIR School recruits 55 gifted 10th and 11th graders from Israel – Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze, from Palestine and from Jordan; who then study and live together in full-board conditions. When choosing its students, the school focuses on the impact it can have on its recruits and the impact they will be able to have on their communities. Students are chosen from all venues of society, according to their academic motivation, willingness to work hard – both intellectually and emotionally, sensibility, wealth of interests, and mastery of English, the school’s language. The program is geared to furnish the students with a set of tools and an outlook that will be useful for them and their surroundings long after they graduate from the school. Once accepted, they attend four weekly meetings during a year and one half, thus spending one whole month studying and living together.

The students have complete access to first-rate facilities, and they receive top-quality interactive education, provided by world-class cardiac experts. These experts come from all over the world, so students learn from Jordanians, Palestinians, Israelis, Europeans, Americans and more. And as inspiringly, recognizing the importance of the school, they volunteer their time to teach at the school. As the students’ participation in the NIR School is free of charge, and as they freely devote their time in the service of their communities, a cycle of ‘receiving’ from the NIR School and ‘giving back’ to their communities is created, a cycle that echoes the action of the heart, which receives oxygenated blood from the lungs and then gives it back – pumps it back to the body, just as the heart does. Examples abound.

The Nir School of the Heart provides a universal model that can be applied anywhere. While the details can and should change according to the specific contexts in which it is applied, its values This ground-breaking approach has been developed by Dr. Richter, who holds a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Boston University, and is based on her in-depth understanding of the emotional, motivational, behavioral and interpersonal characteristics of young people at this age, who are in an identity-forming stage, which boosts the efficacy of the structures and processes Dr. Richter puts in place.

Need for the Program:
The profound involvement of the NIR School with the students’ families has led to enhancing relationships and even to long- term joint ventures between families of some of the students. And the effect of the NIR School is seen even in some communities, as – following the work of its students – the rates of teenage smoking and drinking has been significantly reduced. Since 1998 the NIR School has been continuously operative. Even during the roughest times. Even when no Israeli would dare meet any Palestinian, and when no Palestinian would dare meet any Israeli, the NIR School operated. Yes, even then! The students left their families behind and came to the school to leverage their shared humanity, to grow and to make their dreams come true. In this respect then, while the school is the fulfilment of Dr. Richter’s dream, it is the students and their families who are its real heroes, the courageous protagonists who make it happen.

For Dr. Richter, this dream comes from lessons she learned as a daughter of Holocaust survivors. Her parents taught her that while one’s family, one’s friends and one’s material possessions can all be taken away, one’s spirit and knowledge, bestowed by education, cannot. Therefore, she finds it important to bestow upon talented and open-minded youth the spirit of courage, curiosity, creativity and social commitment. And she does it through the NIR School of the Heart. The motto of Medinol and the Nir School are the same: In Perfect Heart and with a Willing Mind. A phrase that is found in the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Qur’an.

5. How was the policy(s), programme(s) or initiative(s) implemented?  What role did the Nominee play?

The NIR School was founded in 1998 by Dr. Judith Richter, fulfilling her lifelong dream – to bring together Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian youth, and leverage their shared passion for medicine and cardiology to inspire them to become leaders – leaders who will be future ambassadors of peace and help to create a better future for us all. To establish and run the school, Dr. Richter tapped the resources of Medinol, one of the companies she co-founded and owns. It is a worldwide leader in interventional cardiology, and under Dr. Richter’s guidance as its CEO, it revolutionized the stenting industry, fundamentally transforming the field of cardiology. In addition to material support, Medinol also brings its spirit of innovation, courage and going against paradigms to the NIR School.

One student, Osh, established an NGO, operating now for over 15 years, in which dozens of volunteers tutor underprivileged children, raise money to help feed poor families, and mobilize the affluent youngsters of Tel Aviv to donate clothes, books and toys to their less fortunate neighbors. Another student, Daniel, secured the people and funds to build a recreational center in his West-Bank village wherein the teenagers are now deeply engaged in various communal and sports activities. Another student, Adan, created and executes a 10- meetings course for Arab 6th-grade girls. The aim of the course is to help the girls rethink the role of females in the Arab society using art. And indeed, for its graduates, the Nir School has been and is a life-changing, transformative experience. To date there are over 800 graduates who are functioning as ambassadors for peace, out of which 225 are pursuing careers in medical-related professions, including 120 who are now practicing physicians or are attending medical schools. These graduates have also volunteered over 2,500 working days to assist in the preparation and execution of the NIR School meetings. And the effect is not limited to the students and graduates alone.

6. What were/are the most persistent challenges in implementing the policy(s), programme(s) or initiative(s)?  How were they/are they being overcome and what was the role of the Nominee?

As mentioned above, the most challenging issue was to create a program that brings together youth from areas in conflict. This challenge meant recruiting to the mission of dialogue and learning, both the families (parents) of the students as well as the different governmental authorities to come together in order to enable this program to take place. The task was not an easy one. Trust had to be built with the families to convince them to send their children to meet with the “enemy”. The different authorities in all pertinent countries needed to be convinced that their help was needed to allow the successful facilitation of the program. If it wasn’t for Dr. Richter full heart, precision, devotion and passion to bring hope and peace to the region this program would have remained just a dream.

7. What are the key lessons learned from launching the policy(s), programme(s) or initiative(s)?

The first and most important lesson is to never give up on what you believe. Dr Richter had a dream and didn’t give up on it even throughout the most difficult conflict laden times in our region. 21 years and the program kept going even at times when no other of the coexistence programs in the region continued. the NIR School did not stop. The second lesson is education – something that no one can take away from you and is a mutual goal of all parents seeking for their loved ones. Bringing youth together for an educational program rather than a political dialogue enables them to commit to dialogue and tears down barriers. The third lesson is to help the youth see that there is much more in common between us (although we were sometimes brought up to believe (not truly so) that one is maybe better than the other) through learning and teaching to respect the differences. Dr Richter believes that more than 800 graduates of the program and their families and related circles have all been influenced by the program and subsequently all become “Ambassadors of PEACE”.


Impact and Reporting on Progress

1. How do you monitor and evaluate progress on the policy(s), programme(s) or initiative(s)? If relevant, what indicators and metrics are used?

The main monitor used for evaluation is an evaluation form we ask the participants to fill out at the end of each gathering and a graduate’s follow-up survey conducted every couple of years. With the information and evaluation collected the NIR School strives to learns and improves every year.

2. What outcomes or impact have been reached to date? Please be as specific as possible and supply available data.

The NIR School has two main indicators to measure its success, outcomes and impact: the first and most important is the follow up on its graduates. The program keeps contact with all its graduates throughout the years. To date there are 826 graduates who are functioning as ambassadors for peace, out of which 225 are pursuing careers in medical-related professions, including 120 who are now practicing physicians or are attending medical schools. Furthermore, 100% of the graduates continue to high levels of studies in the universities. This is a solid indication that the educational program influences the participants in a positive way towards maximizing their academic potential. For the purpose of follow-up, The NIR School conducts surveys every couple of years and bellow you will find some of the written statements the program received over the years which speak for themselves:

“A chance to get to know yourself in the eyes of others and be able to identify at an early age where you stand and what you stand for” (Palestinian student)

“Life-saver, Friendship-maker, Educational Experience“ (Israeli student)

“A tornado took me to the city of Nir (Oz) where everything is in color like it should be” (Israeli student)

“Nir helped me to become more than I was, more than I am, more than I will be” (Israeli student)

“I found a family without a price, and support without borders” (Israeli student)

“It feels like heaven. Nothing is holding me back so I’m enabled to spread my wings and fly ” (Palestinian student)

“It made me strip down to my core and discover and live up to the potential of who I am” (Israeli student)

“The most amazing, incredible, hard and awesome experience that a person can go through” (Israeli student)

“An eye-opening experience which has life-lasting effects” (Palestinian student)

“Sparked a need for discussion and understanding the Palestinian side of the conflict” (Israeli student)

“Hard to describe in words. A feeling, like across time, I have a large family” (Israeli student)

“Nir School taught me that you can do things differently, that you can think outside of the box, and that your accomplishments aren’t necessarily everything, also the way you get there counts” (Israeli student)

“I think that the Nir School deals with the complexity of life in the best of ways “(Palestinian student)

“Nir made me a better person” (Israeli student)

“It opened my mind, educated me, gave me friends for life. It helped me bring out the best of me and be confident” (Israeli student)

“I taught me how to live again” (Israeli student)

“Gave me a different perspective to all aspects of life” (Israeli student)

“Willing to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor. Furthermore, I want to mention that it has changed the way I look at recycling” (Palestinian student)

“I found passion in medicine” (Israeli student)

“Making me believe I can make a change” (Palestinian student)

“It really changed my narrative from one end to another. I thought about it retrospectively, and it was a life- changing event for me” (Israeli student)

“Honestly, it made me want to be the best version of myself” (Israeli student)

“Nir School taught me to deal with people from different backgrounds that do not necessarily share the same beliefs & ideas as me. And at the end we are all humans, regardless of the politics we were taught “(Jordanian student)

“10 years after, it’s still the strongest experience in my life.” (anonymous)

“Before you go to other countries, spread the program in Israel. I think it should be mandatory in the education system – every school should participate.” (anonymous)

“I believe this program contains potential to impact various people.” (anonymous)

“I can honestly say that this is (so far) the best thing in my life. My home away from home.” (anonymous)

“I just want to thank you for giving me the chance to be part of such an amazing family, can’t imagine my life without NIR.” (anonymous)

“I love you Nir School… I truly do…& thank you is not enough for changing my whole perspective of life.” (anonymous)

”I now realize how many things in my life were influenced by Nir School – from wanting to solve the conflict to not using plastic (single use) plates and glasses. It was a life-changing experience and I want to thank you and suggest that as many people as possible will experience it too!” (anonymous)

“In so many ways, the Nir School showed me that I can dare to be different as long as I’m passionate about something.” (anonymous)

“Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s so Important & eye-opening. Thank you, Judith, for your dream and this amazing experience.” (anonymous)

“Keep up what y’all are doing, because you’re changing the lives of people for the better.” (anonymous)

“Never had such an amazing experience in my life. Thank you for accepting me!” (anonymous)

The second indication is the number of growing candidates we have every year. The program become so popular in each country has far more candidates than can be accepted to the program, this is a strong indication that something is done right.

3. Is the Nominee’s company reporting on its practices, policies, programmes and/or initiatives to champion interfaith understanding and peace? If so, please provide relevant weblink(s) for posting on the Awards’ website. If integrated into the company’s corporate sustainability report, Global Compact COP or GRI Report, please indicate relevant pages and/or sections. (max 200 words)

Medinol website and Nir School website


Additional Information:

A. Are there additional actions the Nominee has taken on an individual level to support interfaith understanding and peace within the organization?  If so, please specify>

As mentioned above, Dr Judith Richter is the founder of the NIR School of the Heart but also the CEO and owner of Medinol – the largest medical device company in Israel. All Medinol employees are exposed to the program and many of them volunteer at the NIR School. This kind of exposure has a massive impact on the employees witnessing the dialogue, coexistence and peace being made between Muslims, Christians, Jews and Druze from neighboring countries. Medinol as a company nurtures the same values the NIR School stands for – the company has employees from ALL religions with NO distinction. Furthermore, over 10% of the employees have various disabilities such as being handicap, have some form of Asperger (autism) as well as other physical and mental disabilities. All employees are treated equal and with full respect and NO ONE is considered to be better than others. Medinol sees its role not only as an employer but also recognizes its responsibility in promoting social values for a better and more tolerant society to all.

B. How has the Nominee taken action to support and promote the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles? If so, please specify. (max 200 words)

Judith supports UNGC principles in word and deed, including SDG 16-Peace. She supports that businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights, especially making sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses and working for the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation, as demonstrated above.

C. Please provide any additional information to be considered.

Dr. Judith Richter will be celebrating her 73rd birthday this year. Most of her adult life, she has fully committed herself to making this world a better place for all human beings. She is a true example and a model of a CEO for corporate responsibility. She has not sought any recognition for her life’s work, but rather has done so in a modest and quiet manner focusing on her objectives. On oct 16 2019 she received an award from the Institute of Medical Engineering and Science at MIT in recognition of her realized vision for the education of ambassadors for universal health and peace – brought on by building bridges between diverse and often fraught communities. The event was held in Washington DC in the presence of President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton and was sponsored by “UNICEF” and the “Bipartisan Policy Center”.

News article: OCTOBER 17, 2019, WASHINGTON, DC

EXCERPTS: Known for her successful medical device company, Medinol, Dr. Judith Richter is now being honored by the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science at MIT for her groundbreaking work to engage young people in the Middle East in the study of cardiology. Richter accepted an award from the MIT’s prestigious institute on Wednesday, “in recognition of her vision of educating ambassadors of universal health and peace, while building bridges between diverse communities”.

The award ceremony was the highlight of the event, celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the NIR School of the Heart, an innovative educational program, founded and led by Dr. Richter, that brings together Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians to learn cardiology in a collaborative environment. The event featured a joint discussion with former U.S. Presidents William J. Clinton and George W. Bush about the challenges bridging divides in conflict regions.

Professor Elazer Edelman, Director of MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, said of Richter, “Through her actions and drive for peace and understanding, Judith Richter has brought communities, and countries together. Our Institute will forever celebrate her amazing efforts at unifying the world.”

The NIR School’s innovative model serves to break down cultural barriers to understanding through a collaborative academic and social learning experience. Of the 800 students who have graduated the program, 25% have entered the medical fields, most of the as physicians. “These young people from different backgrounds have learned about the heart by opening their hearts to each other,” said Richter, who founded Medinol in 1993. “If we can bring young people together to learn in the Middle East, we can do it anywhere. I am grateful to be recognized by MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science and honored by the presence of so many distinguished leaders. Even at times of increased tension in the region, we have made the NIR School of the Heart a place of discovery. These young people have consistently discovered the truth, that our differences make us stronger, help us innovate and improve the human condition,” said Richter.

Bahrain

Richter hopes the NIR School of the Heart educational model will be adopted in other conflict regions and places where tensions between diverse communities form a barrier to peace. She also believes that this immersive learning model can benefit corporations and industries in an increasingly diverse and connected global market. She also believes that this immersive learning model can benefit corporations and industries looking to recruit their next generation of employees. later that year Dr. Richter has attended the religious freedom conference held in Bahrain.

Although the country has no formal relations with Israel and the travel was not an easy one, Dr. Richter recognized the immense importance of such meeting and made the effort to attend and show her support to the cause. I truly believe she is worthy of receiving the opportunity to be recognized by your organization also enabling her to spread her beliefs globally.

Thank you.

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