When I was appointed the next president of the Open Society Foundations in December, I knew that the success of my tenure would depend on our network of committed grantees, the abilities of the current staff, and the talents of people we would pick to continue and expand the work of the Foundations.
Today, only a few weeks before I officially assume the presidency on July 1, I am delighted to announce the selection of Kenneth H. Zimmerman as the new director of U.S. Programs. A lawyer with more than two decades of leadership in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, Ken has devoted his career to justice and equality with a focus on increasing access to opportunity for people of color and low-income communities.
I first met Ken in the mid-1990s, when I tried to persuade him to join me at the Vera Institute of Justice. He was a young attorney at the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and had distinguished himself as a creative and dynamic reformer. At the time, he could not leave Washington, D.C., so it’s wonderful that after 20 years we’ll have a chance to work together.
Ken currently is a litigation partner heading the pro bono practice group at Lowenstein Sandler PC. He was part of the presidential transition team preparing the Obama Administration’s strategy for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Before he went to Lowenstein Sandler, Ken served as chief counsel to New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine from 2006 to 2008. He played a key role in abolishing the state’s death penalty and efforts to reform the state’s corrections and parole systems. He was the first executive director of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, working to create jobs for young people in New Jersey’s cities, reentry, and other efforts to advance social justice.
In his new role Ken will oversee a grantmaking body that for the past several years has given more than $100 million annually in support of a diverse array of groups that work for equality, fairness, and justice in the United States.
Ken’s experience makes him superbly qualified to lead our U.S. work. Collaboration among public, private, and nonprofit sectors is crucial to turning smart ideas and hard work into real world results. I look forward to his help as a partner in carrying on the efforts of the Open Society Foundations to promote democratic governance, rule of law, the rights of minorities, and civil and political liberties.