A Tribute to Alan V. Sokolow

A friend, colleague, and public policy leader

August 4, 2021

It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Alan V. Sokolow, who was instrumental in founding The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center more than 20 years ago. The CSG Justice Center continues to be inspired by Alan’s legacy of commitment to public service, and we send our condolences to his family and friends as we celebrate his life.

As director of The Council of State Governments/Eastern Regional Conference (CSG East), Alan contributed to the creation of a regional criminal justice program, guided by a cross-section of judicial, legislative, and executive branch officials from across the Northeast. In 2006, CSG’s National Executive Committee passed a resolution that established the CSG Justice Center as a national entity, with the formation of an advisory board and executive committee.

“State lawmakers approached Alan about establishing a committee where Republicans and Democrats could talk, off the record, about what made good crime policy. Today that doesn’t sound too unusual, but back then, it was unprecedented—and risky,” said Mike Thompson, former and founding director of the CSG Justice Center. “I’ll never forget his unwavering support, his tireless cheerleading, and the generosity with which he gave of his time and of his connections. Without him, there would be no CSG Justice Center today.”

Those who worked with him remember Alan for his wisdom, integrity, and leadership, and his love for people and public service. His support of new ideas and creativity helped shape many innovative projects throughout his time at CSG East. Alan’s work not only strengthened CSG as an organization but helped shape our nation’s public policy.

“Few people are aware of the crucial role Alan Sokolow played in the birth of what we now know as the CSG Justice Center,” said founding advisory board member Mike Lawlor. “Alan believed that officials from different states and different parties could address real problems that were then emerging in criminal justice systems across the region. The conversations and common ground that emerged in those early discussions established the data-driven, nonpartisan, and multi-branch model that has become the hallmark of the CSG Justice Center. Alan’s diplomatic skills made it possible for this innovation to get off the ground. I trust that this legacy will never be forgotten by those who continue to advance the mission of the CSG Justice Center.”

Alan was born on September 20, 1942, in Brooklyn, New York, where he grew up. He later received his bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and his master’s in political science from Syracuse University. He joined CSG East as a field representative in 1967, and five years later, was promoted to CSG East’s director, a post in which he served until his retirement in 2009. Alan is survived by his wife of 53 years, Margo; two daughters, Rachel and Elena; and two grandchildren, Max and Leo.

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