Lisa Goldberg, a foundation leader known for her generosity and energy, died Monday night at age 54. The cause was a brain aneurysm.
Since 2003 Goldberg — who was married to John Sexton, the president of New York University — had served as president of the Revson Foundation, which supports a wide range of Jewish and secular causes.
Under Goldberg’s watch, the foundation helped launch and support public television series such as “Genesis: A Living Conversation with Bill Moyers,” which brought together scholars, artists, and theologians of many faiths; the Israeli version of “Sesame Street,” whose new Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian co-production will be aired in the fall; and the award-winning “Heritage: Civilization and the Jews” with Abba Eban. In Israel, the foundation helped establish the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, an independent think tank that conducts policy research on the economics, politics, and environment of Israel, and the Israel National Science Foundation.
Goldberg saw the potential of the Internet early and made expanding access and enhancing the educational uses of the Web a priority for the foundation. She also introduced several initiatives to identify and nurture the next generation of leaders, particularly in the areas of media and technology, Jewish culture, and social justice. Goldberg “was a terrific colleague and mentored younger colleagues,” said Jo-Ann Mort, director of communications for the Jewish Funders Network, of which Goldberg was a longtime member. Mort added that Goldberg “was a visionary, thinking all the time about the next generation of Jews and how to engage them.”
Gail Reimer, executive director of the Jewish Women’s Archive, of which the Revson Foundation was a founding supporter, said that “from the early stages of the Jewish Women’s Archive, I relied on Lisa for advice and guidance about organizational growth, board development, foundation funding and so much more.”Goldberg was “extremely generous with her time,” Reimer added, recalling how when she was working on a grant proposal and e-mailed Goldberg a few questions, “I would get three pages back with answers.”
“She took her own work and the work of Revson grantees very seriously,” Reimer said. “It was a privilege to work with her.”
A graduate of Harvard Law School and Radcliffe College, Goldberg joined the Revson Foundation as a program officer in 1982 and became executive vice president in 1994.
Prior to her work at Revson, Goldberg served as a senior staff member and legal counsel to the President’s Commission for a National Agenda for the Eighties, established by President Jimmy Carter; as consultant to Judges Harold Leventhal and David Bazelon of the Federal Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia; and as director of a Boston family court program funded by the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA).
Born in Brookline, Mass., she is survived by her husband; daughter, Katherine Lodgen Sexton; son, Jed Sexton; daughter-in-law, Danielle DeCrette; three granddaughters; a sister and a brother, Phillip Goldberg, who is the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia.