Ken Zimmerman

Former Executive Director of the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice

ken zimmerman - Ken Zimmerman

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Date Recorded:
July 21, 2020

Interviewed by:
Clare Holtzman


Ken Zimmerman, a noted policy maker, fair housing expert, and civil rights attorney, has served in leadership roles in federal and state government, philanthropy and the non-profit sector. He is currently a Distinguished Fellow with NYU’s Furman Center where he teaches and examines new forms of social advocacy and policy development in the urban environment. Zimmerman previously directed George Soros’ domestic philanthropy at the Open Society Foundations where he built the foundation’s core commitments related to democratic practice, criminal justice reform, full civic participation for immigrants and communities of color, and equitable economic growth.

Zimmerman has focused on how to advance social equity by bridging the lived experience, especially of communities of color, with the inside-game dynamics of federal and state policymaking. During the Obama Administration, he served as Senior Advisor to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan developing new approaches to fair housing, such as the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation. Previously, as Chief Counsel to New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine, he helped the state abolish the death penalty and reset its approach to affordable housing. He also served as the inaugural executive director of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice which created innovative programs and policy to support the revitalization of Newark, New Jersey.

Zimmerman received his B.A. from Yale University and J.D. from Harvard Law School, both magna cum laude.