Statement: Former CSG/ERC Director Alan V. Sokolow
With great sadness, we join the family of Alan V. Sokolow in mourning his passing last week. Alan’s four-decade career here in the Eastern Office of The Council of State Governments made all of our member jurisdictions stronger and has benefitted the millions of people we collectively serve through better policy, more transparent and effective governing, and better cooperation among all who seek to make state government the best it can be.
Born in Brooklyn, New York on September 20, 1942, Alan graduated from Brooklyn schools and later received undergraduate and master’s degrees in public policy and public administration. In 1967, he began his professional career with The Council of State Governments/Eastern Regional Conference (CSG East) as a field representative. By 1972, he had moved up to lead the regional office as CSG East’s director.
For over four decades, the members of the Eastern region benefitted from the wisdom, integrity, and unwavering dedication that Alan brought to his work at CSG. After the Eastern office and all of its files were lost in the 9/11 terrorist attack, Alan helped shepherd the office through an extensive series of moves before finding a permanent new home in lower Manhattan. He encouraged new ideas and creative problem-solving. “I am your biggest cheerleader,” Alan would frequently tell staff – and his supportive leadership helped to shape many innovative projects over the years. Alan played a key role in helping to establish the CSG Justice Center and the Eastern Leadership Academy, and he was the driving force behind the creation of the Black Caucus – now the Council on Communities of Color – and the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. Together with Wendell Hannaford, who succeeded Alan as CSG East director, Alan invited five Canadian provinces to become international associate members of CSG East.
Alan’s respect for CSG members and staff, and his enthusiasm for public policy, were clear to all who had the opportunity to know and work with him. “I love this job,” Alan told an audience of several hundred CSG East members and staff when he announced his retirement during the 2008 CSG East Annual Meeting, his voice thick with emotion.
“Having worked with Alan Sokolow for over 30 years, I can say no one believed more deeply and passionately in CSG’s mission of promoting cooperation and collaboration among state officials than Alan,” said Hannaford. “To use the current term of art, Alan was a natural ‘connector.’ He loved meeting with public officials, listening to their concerns, and developed deep and lasting friendships with legislators, governors and staff alike. He grew CSG East’s Annual Meeting into the organization’s signature networking event. No one was better suited to bringing people together to share ideas than Alan. He often welcomed new state officials to the CSG East ‘family.’ Under Alan, CSG became more than just an association of state officials; members came to meetings year after year to renew friendships as well as learn from each other and address critical public policy issues. He left an indelible mark not only on the organization he loved, but on the many lives he touched. He will be sorely missed.”
Alan will be missed by many, but his legacy will continue to guide this organization and the many individuals following in his footsteps today.
Alan’s obituary and additional information are available online: