Leo Cherne, longtime IRC chairman, is subject of recent biography
A recent biography, "Rescuing the World: The Life and Times of Leo Cherne," tells the story of one of the more remarkable Americans of the twentieth century.
From the 1930s through the 1990s, Cherne played a notable role in the political, economic and cultural life of the United States. A lawyer, economist and businessman, he advised every U.S. president from Franklin Roosevelt to George H.W. Bush.
More significant for the International Rescue Committee, Cherne was a humanitarian who for 40 years served as chairman of the IRC board and was the driving force behind the organization's refugee aid operations.
His personal leadership, energy and commitment to the cause of refugees brought the IRC back from the brink of insolvency and extinction in the early 1950's. Under his leadership for the next four decades, the IRC grew to become one of the world's most respected humanitarian assistance organizations. The organization's staff and volunteers helped save the lives of untold numbers of men, women and children who left their homes in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America to flee war or persecution.
The author Peter Drucker called Cherne "one of the twentieth century's least known yet most influential men."
Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, a member of the IRC's board since 1985, has written: "Leo Cherne's life was devoted to helping the uprooted. Their religious affiliation or ethnic origin mattered little to him. All victims of dictatorships found in him an address, an ally, a friend. In his tireless work ... he brought honor to humanity."
Cherne served as chairman of the IRC board from 1951 to 1991. He continued to serve on the board as chairman emeritus until his death in January 1999 at age 86.