Jonathan Zur, ’03, is the recipient of the Jepson School's Tenth Year Reunion Recognition Award. The award recognizes exemplary qualities of professional or scholarly achievement, or community or public service.

Acceptance, diversity and inclusion are more than just nice words for Jonathan Zur, ’03. They are the ideas around which he orients his life.

As president and chief executive officer of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC), a nonprofit organization that works with schools, business and communities to promote inclusion, he works throughout the state to help people and groups “value and respect diversity.”

It seems a natural career choice for Zur, the grandson of Holocaust survivors. 

“My grandmother and her family hid in the woods for an extended period of time around Vilna until they were found by Nazi soldiers,” says Zur. “In the chaos of that moment, only my grandmother and her father survived from their immediate family. Her mother and siblings were all killed.”

With a childhood that included stories about the Holocaust, Zur found himself drawn to work that aims to serve the community and make people more sensitive to racial, religious and cultural differences.

The seeds of his career were planted during childhood and watered at the University of Richmond.

Someone recommended the Jepson School of Leadership Studies to Zur in high school based on leadership positions he had held and his interest in community service. “When I had the honor of being selected as a Bonner Scholar, my decision became easy,” says the New Jersey native.

As a leadership studies major, he completed a research project that shaped his understanding of service and civic engagement. He also worked closely with the Chaplaincy on an anti-bias project.

Zur has received plenty of accolades for his leadership since graduating. He is the youngest CEO in VCIC’s 78-year history. His leadership landed him on Style Weekly’s “Top 40 under 40” list in 2009. And he received the Stettinius Award for Nonprofit Leadership in 2011.

With Zur at the helm, VCIC was named a “Top-Rated Nonprofit” by GreatNonprofits.org, selected as a “Richmond History Maker” for improving social justice and honored by the Interfaith Council of Greater Richmond. A recent book, “No COLORS: 100 Ways to Stop Gangs from Taking Away Our Communities,” singled out VCIC’s Project Inclusion as “the best program we have seen in the nation for sowing the seeds of nonviolence, inclusiveness and understanding in a high school population.”

He also serves on several boards, including the board of the National Federation for Just Communities, and is a member of Senator Mark Warner’s statewide Interfaith Advisory Group, the Hope in the Cities Council and University of Richmond’s Bonner Center for Civic Engagement Advisory Council. Currently VCIC is the permanent site placement for three Bonner Scholars, and the Bonner Center awarded a Burhans Civic Fellowship to Kerry Boland, '14, to intern there last summer.

Zur is modest about his accomplishments and says Richmond played an important role in his career.

“As someone who has worked in the nonprofit sector for the last 10 years, the chances I had through the Jepson School to study, analyze, make recommendations to and learn from nonprofits were invaluable,” he says.