Remarks by Judith S. Goldstein Honoring Mariko Silver

Judith Goldstein delivered the following remarks at Humanity in Action's Twentieth Anniversary Celebration Benefit on December 8, 2016, at Christie's in New York City. Goldstein's remarks honor Mariko Silver, the President of Bennington College and a Humanity in Action Senior Fellow. Goldstein is the Founder and Executive Director of Humanity in Action.


Twenty years ago Mariko became a Humanity in Action Fellow—in the very first class. I first met her when she was 13—an adorable but rather brash young woman. I interviewed her when she was at Yale for the program—an educated, ambitious, vital person. Her bio is a compendium of accomplishments at Arizona State University, working for Janet Napolitano in the Arizona Governor’s office, following her to Homeland Security, and then to Bennington as its President. I went to her inauguration 3 years ago. And there she was—filled with a vision for that wonderful school, ready to take on all of the challenges that come with a liberal arts education, bonding, without condescension or bogus authority, with students and faculty. 

Stunning as it is, Mariko’s impressive bio doesn’t reveal what fuels that success: a formidable and quick intelligence applied to realizing her values and ambitions; a concentrated investment of her gifts in the field of education; a capacity to listen; a willingness to take positions and risks; a vibrant personality; a fantastic smile; a special family enriched by a wonderful mother, terrific husband and two delicious daughters.

In this critical post-election period, we must turn to and be guided by strong voices, like Mariko’s, in the academic world. They must be on the front line in sharing knowledge: separating fact from lies, confronting and confounding the insidious new power of social media, promoting and protecting our values and essential rights, educating students about the hard work of democracy.

In addition to working with Humanity in Action for 20 years, which has been such a great blessing, I have been trying to keep up with Mariko since she was at Yale and became a Humanity in Action Fellow. These are two formidable tasks. Tonight, we celebrate the close connection between her outstanding work and ours. 

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