Eli Segal loved to get things done. His unique combination of optimism, vision and practicality resulted in ambitious and creative programs that have made a real difference in our country. Eli’s passion for citizen engagement has been brought to life in communities across the country every day in the youthful energy and talent of more than 500,000 young people who have served in AmeriCorps, America’s national service program. Millions of lives were transformed through the Welfare to Work Partnership, which Eli founded, to engage businesses in investing in the long-term economic self-sufficiency of welfare recipients.
Through his service to the McGovern Commission, Eli changed forever the way in which elections were conducted so that power was put in the hands of ordinary citizens rather than the political party machines. He was also a brilliant political strategist, an astute businessman and, most importantly, an extraordinary friend and mentor to so many people, from all walks of life.
When he died, family, friends, political leaders and journalists described Eli and his accomplishments:
"Eli was a truly extraordinary person," said Sandy Berger, who served as Clinton's National Security Adviser and was one of Mr. Segal's closest friends. "He made an enormous difference for the people he knew and the country he loved... (Eli) had more friends than anyone I knew, and more people loved him than anyone I knew. He's my closest friend. I think that there are hundreds of others who felt that friendship for Eli. It's an irreplaceable loss, but Eli would want us to move on and continue to make a difference every day in our lives."
President Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, said ''A longtime friend and colleague, Eli embodied the spirit of the American dream and lived his life as a man for others."
His wife, Phyllis N. Segal, remembers in the words of Larry Brown of Wayland, a friend of Eli’s, “while the wish to live a few more days is understandable, that's just a blink in time. To live on in the hearts of the people you know is much more than that, and to live on in the hearts of people you've never met is the definition of forever."
“Eli J. Segal, an architect of AmeriCorps and the Welfare to Work Partnership in the Clinton administration, used his business acumen and political savvy to create a lasting legacy of social service for the young and employment for the poor,” wrote Bryan Marquard, Boston Globe Staff.
"Your joy has been a blessing above the highest stakes of politics." Talk-show host Charlie Rose wrote, "You have spread more love than most folks who have ever graced this planet."