The Open Society Foundations has announced its new head: Chris Stone. While OSF and Chris will surely have an agenda that goes way beyond access to justice, it is promising that the Institute, vast in its international reach, will be headed by a person with a long history in, and deep understanding of the need, both for access to justice and for community grounding of access to justice institutions.
As head of the Vera Institute in the 90’s, Chris pushed for a wide variety of community-based justice initiatives, varying from community policing to, perhaps most critically, the creation of Neighborhood Defender of Harlem (NDS). NDS pioneered community basing of defender services, including a team approach, social service and investigatory participation, integration of civil and defender services, and aggressive use of technology. (Disclosure: I worked with Chris at NDS and Vera.)
In the most recent decade, while at the Kennedy School, Chris has worked extensively on leadership issues and with the Hauser Center on Nonprofit Organizations. Before heading Vera, he ran that organization’s London Office, and indeed, while at Vera he created an international network of criminal justice innovation organizations. He was way ahead of most of us on the globalization curve, and this may well offer a hint of his long term perspective.
In all these roles he has also been deeply committed to innovation, to the use of pilots to test new ideas, and to rigorous research to test the validity and effectiveness of those new ideas.
He is tireless and focused, and his selection augurs very well for the future, not only for OSF and access to justice, but both for a more just and equitable society and for the overall direction of the worldwide funder community, in which I am sure he will be an intellectual and programmatic leader.
New York Times story here.