About Daniel Thursz
Daniel Thursz (1929-2000) was born in Morocco and moved to the U.S. with his family in 1941. While avoiding the terror of Europe, his family was directly affected by the nightmare of the McCarthy era. In the 1950s, he received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Queens College in New York and master’s and doctorate degrees in social work, both from Catholic University. He served in the Army during the Korean War. He was a program director at the DC Jewish Community Center and worked at B’nai B’rith until the early 1960s. Prior to becoming Dean of the University of Maryland School of Social Work, a position he held from 1966-1976, he was Associate Director of VISTA. From 1976-1986, Dr. Thursz was Executive Vice President of B’nai B’rith International. In the 1980s and 1990s he was on various councils on aging, among them the White House Conference on Aging’s Policy Committee, and served as Chair of the Leadership Council on Aging Organizations. From 1988 to 1995 he held leadership positions in the National Council on Aging and was named President Emeritus. He also served as Secretariat of Generations United, a coalition of over 80 national organizations concerned with intergenerational work. Dan Thursz was an innovator in both the theory and practice of communal social work. This is reflected in his many publications, which include Empowering Older People: An International Approach; Meeting Human Needs; Reaching People: The Structure of Neighborhood Services; Reaching the Aged; The Changing Meanings of ‘Independence’ in an Aging U.S.; and Social Aspects of Poverty. He was a fervent and articulate advocate for the disadvantaged and the poor. He demonstrated a lifelong commitment to improving, intensifying, and deepening the interaction between individuals and the democratic community. This was also reflected in his role as a leader of the Peace Now movement in Israel. At the time of his death, he was President Emeritus of the National Council on Aging, President of the International Federation on Aging, and Director of the Center on Global Aging of Catholic University.
The Leadership Ten Commandments
By Dr. Daniel Thursz
- Know thyself as a human being, in relationship to others and as a Jew.
- Have a vision. Identify with the objectives of the organization you lead, both short- and long-term goals.
- Care about others. Every person is sacred and is not to be exploited. Learn to listen and to empathize with others.
- Lead by example. Never ask someone to do something you are not ready to do yourself, and demonstrate this readiness.
- Sacrifice your self-interest for the sake of the program. Being a leader means occasionally giving up a personal pleasure or comfort.
- Avoid “macheritis.” Do not make status the key concept in your life. Develop a degree of humility.
- Try to deal with people openly and honestly. Do not complain behind their backs, but rather confront them and risk hostility in developing a relationship of trust.
- Be enthusiastic. Do not allow your own problems to infect the group. You can never lead others with a complaining or self-pitying stance.
- Be a walking encyclopedia of options. Do not suggest one way of doing things, but have a lot of options from which others can feel free to choose.
- Share leadership. Leadership is not the role of one person, but is an activity in which all can participate. All leaders are members and all members can be leaders.