DCTV Board Member Profile: Cora Weiss


Cora Weiss, Chair of DCTV Board of Directors since 1987, is also President of the Samuel Rubin Foundation. The foundation’s general purpose is to carry on the vision of Samuel Rubin, whose life was dedicated to the pursuit of peace and justice and the search for an equitable reallocation of the world’s resources.

DCTV is very grateful to Cora Weiss and the Samuel Rubin Foundation for its generous support of PRO-TV, our professional media-training program for inner city youth. Ms. Weiss’s presence on the DCTV Board of Directors is one of many of her vigorous efforts to strive for a just and peaceful world.

Recently, Ms. Weiss remarked, “We love DCTV because it empowers young people, who might face few opportunities in life, to become skilled in the art of filmmaking. Its Co-Director, Jon Alpert and Matt O’Neill produce cutting edge award-winning documentaries on critical issues from drugs to war to car racing and rodeos, which establish new standards for filmmakers.”

From 1978-1988, Ms. Weiss was Director of the Riverside Church’s Disarmament Program, an interfaith effort to promote peace and justice during a highly charged period of the Cold War between the U.S. and Soviet Union. Many of us working in the anti-nuclear peace movement during the 1980s were alarmed by the increasingly threatening tone of international discourse and the enormous build-up of first-strike nuclear weapons on both sides. As Director of the Riverside Church Disarmament Program, Ms. Weiss coordinated the largest peace protest in U.S. history, when over a million people rallied in Central Park in 1982, in support of the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament. With Ms. Weiss at the helm, the Riverside Church Disarmament Program was one of the first U.S. organizations to host Oliver Tambo, Acting President of the African National Congress (ANC), an anti-apartheid political party.

Ms. Weiss actively promotes international peace and justice and continues to serve as President of the Hague Appeal for Peace and Joint-Principal of Peace Boat’s Global University. Every year, at least one and often more of DCTV’s PRO-TV students participate in Peace Boat tour activities, where they visit countries around the world, creating video documentaries about local peace efforts. One year, a PRO-TV student took the Peace Boat to India, where she met and interviewed the Dalai Lama, and other PRO-TV students have taken the Peace Boat to England, Scotland, and Ireland.

As Executive Director of the African-American Students Foundation from 1959-1963, Ms. Weiss made arrangements for East African students to travel to American universities in order to take advantage of scholarships they received. The AASF also provided for modest grants for students to help with books and maintenance. Barack Obama, Sr. was among those students who received grants when he attended the University of Hawaii, where he met and married Ann Dunham, President Obama’s mother. Ms. Weiss’s interest in Africa continued when she, as a trustee of Hampshire College in the 1970s, worked to get the College’s trustees to support the students who led the campus campaign to divest stocks in companies doing business in South Africa. Similar divestiture efforts began throughout the world, which eventually contributed to the ending of apartheid in 1994.

Many have called Cora Weiss a visionary for her longstanding advocacy on behalf of women, peace, and social justice. Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 and 2001, Ms. Weiss has also been awarded the Peace Caucus United Nations Award in 1999, the Peace Studies Medal of Manhattan College (1997), and the 1996 George F. Kennan Award of New Jersey Peace Action, among numerous other awards.

Jon Alpert, DCTV Co-Founder and Co-Director, has this to say: “Cora Weiss is the best friend DCTV ever had.”