Yohanan Plesner*
Speaker at Copenhagen Democracy Summit 2024

Yohanan (Johan) Plesner has served as President of the Israel Democracy Institute since 2014.

Under his leadership, IDI has undergone a series of transformative changes, including the reorganization of the Institute around five centers of research and policy (including two endowed centers), the near-doubling of its annual budget, the creation of a new communications division, and the expansion of an impact-oriented government relations arm. In the wake of the social and political crisis of 2023, Plesner oversaw IDI’s emergence as a leading public advocate for constitutional reform.

Plesner grew up in Jerusalem and served in the IDF's elite "Sayeret Matkal" unit, in which he still serves as an active officer in reserve duty. He graduated magna cum laude with a BA in Economics from the Amirim Program for Excellence at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He then went on to obtain an MPA in Political Economy and International Security from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

In 2005, after several years in private-industry executive positions, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appointed Plesner Head of Special Projects in the Prime Minister's Office. In 2006, he was appointed Executive Director of the then governing Kadima Party. In 2007, Plesner was elected to the Knesset, where he served as an MK until 2013. Among other legislative responsibilities, he was a member of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, Co-chair of the Knesset Lobby for Higher Education, and Chairman of the Knesset's permanent delegation to the Council of Europe.

In 2012, Plesner was appointed chair of the special governmental Committee for Equality in the Burden of Service, which produced a blueprint for incorporating the ultra-Orthodox community into military and national service, one of the most complex social-economic challenges facing the State of Israel.

Talks at Copenhagen Democracy Summit 2024