Remembering GMF Founder Guido Goldman
I am very sad to report that Guido Goldman, the remarkable founder of GMF, has died. GMF exists because of the creativity, the magnetism, the humanity, and the ideals of Guido. He inspired the government of Willy Brandt with his vision for how best to mark the 25th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, and the German Marshall Fund of the United States was born. Guido kept GMF close to his heart and core to his life for the next 48 years. His commitment to the German-American partnership, and his love for GMF and its staff, move me more than this note can capture.
Many of you had the good fortune of knowing Guido. For those who didn't, I want to share two qualities of this amazingly multidimensional man.
First, Guido believed in the power of the past to inform our present. He didn't live in the past. He wasn't one for nostalgia. But he did believe that remembering the past is key to navigating the present and setting a thoughtful course for the future. Guido was the long-time chair of GMF's board. He retired from the board in 2012, but continued to attend as many board meetings as he could as chair emeritus. He would jump into many a debate to remind us how GMF evolved and what principles had defined the course we had set for the organization. He embraced change and always listened intently when I would share ideas about new programmatic areas that I thought GMF needed to move into. He understood that change was central to GMF's ability to remain relevant to an evolving transatlantic relationship.
Second, Guido believed in the promise of the future. His favorite part of GMF was our Leadership Programs. Guido followed with enthusiasm our work focused on cultivating the next generation of transatlantic leaders, especially our Marshall Memorial Fellows. He was delighted to see the growing diversity of our fellows. He followed closely the creative initiatives to keep alumni engaged because they found this GMF network meaningful to their continued personal and professional growth. He was so impressed by and proud of the incredible talent of our alumni. He was a firm believer in the power of personal relationships when advancing the cause of transatlantic relations.
From his passion for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company to his exquisite Uzbek textile art (“Ikat”) collection, Guido was a Renaissance man. Martin Klingst captured Guido's uniqueness in a forthcoming biography, commissioned by the German Foreign Office. The English version, due out in the Spring, is called "Guido Goldman: A Transatlantic Bridge Builder." As we all traverse that bridge, let's work to make it stronger in Guido's memory.
With deep sympathy,
The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.