Shai Franklin is a Partner and Director of National Government Relations with Gotham Government Relations, a versatile firm with strong ties to business and government leaders in New York and Washington, as well as globally. <Download bio>
As Executive Director of TEACH-NYS, Shai Franklin led a community-based coalition that – in 2012 alone, working with the New York State Catholic Conference – restored $44 million in state offsets to New York’s non-public schools.
In his role as Director of International Organizations for the World Jewish Congress and Executive Director of the WJC American Section, Shai served three years as Treasurer of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CONGO), and was one of the organizers of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians. While at WJC, he spearheaded high-level and grassroots initiatives within a wide range of international organizations, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Organization of American States, the International Red Cross, and Interpol.
Shai has been registered to lobby at the state and federal levels, and with the U.S. Department of Justice as a foreign agent. His broad fundraising experience includes helping to rebuild a $10 million annual direct mail campaign; coordinating face-to-face solicitations to fund a $300,000 operating budget and $250,000 in campaign donations for federal, state and local races; grant-writing and presentations to foundations and funder panels.
Shai has testified in the U.S. Congress and New York State Legislature, and addressed numerous international fora of the OSCE, United Nations, and the Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom. He conducted research in France on Muslim-Jewish relations, under the auspices of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has participated in the Manama Dialogue regional security summit as a guest of Bahrain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and delivered keynote addresses at the VIII International Economic Forum in Kharkiv, Ukraine and the 2023 U.S.-Somalia Business Conference in Kismaayo, Somalia.
Shai has appeared as an expert on TV networks as diverse as TRT World, i24 News, Al Jazeera, Shalom TV, and Argentina’s C5N [Click here for selected video clips]. His views and analysis are regularly published in various print and online media. He was ranked eighth on JTA’s 2009 list of the “100 Most Influential Jewish Twitter Users.”
For six years, Shai served as Director of Governmental Relations in the Washington, DC, headquarters of NCSEJ (formerly the National Conference on Soviet Jewry), where he spearheaded initiatives impacting post-Soviet societies and the broader Euro-Atlantic partnership. He helped coordinate and codify strategy among 57 European and North American governments to combat anti-Semitism through the OSCE. On behalf of NCSEJ, Shai shaped the human rights provisions for landmark U.S. trade provisions covering several Soviet successor states, including the Russian Federation.
Shai has extensive and varied experience helping activists and refugees get into the United States and other countries, and in keeping perpetrators out. He has facilitated visits and meetings for, and advised, numerous human rights voices.
As the U.S. representative of Ukraine-based GloBee, Shai opened the first Kharkiv Region representative office in Washington, DC, and organized a trade delegation led by the Governor of Kharkiv region. Immediately following Russia's 2022 invasion, Shai registered to lobby pro bono on behalf of GloBee in support of Ukraine's interests in the United States. In response to Shai's activism, in November 2022 the Russian Foreign Ministry officially banned him from entering Russia.
Shai is an adjunct professor in Long Island University's award-winning Hutton House Lectures, teaching courses on topics including post-Cold War Europe, the "post-modern" Middle East, and the United Nations. Since 2023, he is a Bonhoeffer Fellow at the Boston-based Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership of Hebrew College.
Earlier, Shai was Managing Editor of Middle East Insight Magazine, a Fellow at both United Nations Watch in Geneva and The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and a community professional with the Anti-Defamation League. He has managed humanitarian projects in Russia and India on assignment with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
Shai earned a B.A. in political science (summa cum laude) from Temple University in Philadelphia, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He holds an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins University's Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC, where was selected for the U.S. Government's elite Presidential Management Intern Program.
Shai has traveled widely in the Middle East and South Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, Latin America and the former Soviet Union to consult with high-ranking government officials, religious leaders, journalists, scholars, and activists. In addition to fluent English and Hebrew, he also speaks Arabic and French.
Current and past clients have included:
Kharkiv Regional State Administration (Ukraine)
Government of National Accord (Libya)
Oranim Academic College (Israel)
Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Ukrainian Jewish Committee