With new ambition for dramatic national growth, the organization expands its name, mission and programs – and chooses a “force of nature,” say public officials, whose leadership was chronicled in two motion pictures.
The Anne Frank Center USA has renamed itself the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, and has named civil rights leader Steven Goldstein to be its new Executive Director. The new name, and Goldstein himself, make their debut at the organization’s 20th annual gala on Tuesday, June 14 at the New York Academy of Medicine.
With Goldstein’s hiring, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect not only adopts a new name, but also a wider mission. To date, the organization has focused largely on the history of Anne Frank and the Holocaust, with forays into addressing contemporary prejudice and discrimination. Now the organization, reflecting the Mutual Respect in its new name, will significantly broaden its work on contemporary issues to become a national leader in exposing and fighting hate.
The inspiration for organization’s expanded name and mission is the late Otto Frank, Anne’s father. He founded the organization in the United States in 1959 to “build a world based on equal rights and mutual respect.”
In ushering in a new era, the organization sought a leader with a vision as big as its own. That’s when it hired Goldstein, who achieved national renown as the longtime leader of Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s statewide organization for LGBT equality. From the time he founded Garden State Equality in 2004, the organization amassed 150,000 members and won a record-breaking 216 new civil rights laws at every level in the state. In an article covering Goldstein’s leadership, The Harvard Law and Policy Review credited him with building a “model organization” in the United States for achieving social justice.
He moved on from Garden State Equality in 2013, the year New Jersey won marriage equality, to become an associate professor of law and political science at Rutgers University in Newark. In 2015, Steve Carell played Goldstein in the motion picture “Freeheld,” chronicling one of Garden State Equality’s legendary battles for justice. The movie was based on the 2007 documentary “Freeheld,” featuring the real Steven Goldstein, that won the Oscar® for Best Short Documentary.
In addition to Goldstein, the organization’s new leadership team includes new Board Chair Peter Rapaport and a new Deputy Director, staff veteran Rebecca Faulkner. They, along with the rest of the Board and staff, are committed to unprecedented organizational growth in both public programming and national reach. At the same time, they vow to strengthen the organization’s work to commemorate Anne Frank and the Holocaust.
“As we work to make the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect a national powerhouse in fighting the hate that exists in our world today,” Goldstein said, “we will teach the stories of the tragic past, including Anne Frank’s. That’s how we’ll make the Holocaust more relevant to young people in every generation ahead.”
“This is an exciting new start for the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect,” said Peter Rapaport, Chair of the organization’s board. “We chose Steven Goldstein because he is a bold leader who thinks big and delivers big. His vision of growth is ours: Not just to do the same things better, but rather to do bigger things better. Our organization is lucky and excited to have Steven leading us!”
Among the people who know Goldstein best is New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. For years, the two have worked hand-in-hand to win equality.
“When Steven promises to make the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect a national powerhouse, believe him,” said Weinberg. “He is an unstoppable force of nature who transforms organizations, opinions and other people’s lives. Steven will inspire you, and maybe overwhelm you, with his vision, his passion, his heart and his mind. Watching him in this job will be a thrill for me and many others who admire him and love him.”
Another official close to Goldstein is New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak, who has also worked with Goldstein to bring equality to the state.
“I cried when I read ‘The Diary of Anne Frank,’” said Lesniak. “Now I’m crying tears of joy that the force of nature who became one of the greatest civil rights leaders New Jersey ever had is the new executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect.”
Prior to his leading Garden State Equality and teaching at Rutgers, Goldstein was a television news producer, winning 10 Emmy Awards, and a senior staff member in both houses of Congress. He was a lawyer for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and then communications director for the late U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg.
Goldstein received his B.A. summa cum laude from Brandeis University; his Master in Public Policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government; his M.S. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and his J.D. from Columbia Law School. He also began rabbinical school in mid-career. A native of New York City, he currently lives in Teaneck, New Jersey.
ANNE FRANK CENTER FOR MUTUAL RESPECT educates the nation to fight harder for Anne Frank’s dream: An inclusive world in which mutual respect replaces hatred and its consequences. Our inspiring programs, tailored to youth and adults from every walk of life, train participants to recognize and stop prejudice even at its earliest stages. Through our work that honors Anne Frank’s diary and enduring legacy, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect does more than respond to prejudice. We teach our nation to prevent it.