The Religious Leadership and Civic Engagement Project Co-Director and Visiting Scholar
Rabbi Steve Gutow is a Visiting Scholar at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He brings a powerful depth and richness of expertise in organizing, advocacy and reaching across the divisions that have undermined the sense of shared obligation and fate in America and beyond.
He served as President and CEO of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs (JCPA) from 2005 until 2015. The JCPA has been for eighty years the umbrella organization for both 120 local community relations councils throughout the country and 16 national organizations including all the major Jewish religious movements as well as the ADL, the AJC, the NJCW and others. Steve initiated a campaign to address poverty in the U.S. that implemented several efforts that have led to an increased national commitment to reduce poverty, efforts such as the "food stamp challenge” and Fighting Poverty with Faith. Under Steve’s leadership the JCPA undertook in 2013 an "Immigration Nation" campaign to demonstrate Jewish community support for comprehensive immigration reform and a campaign to end gun violence, inspired by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. Under Rabbi Gutow’s auspices the JCPA initiated a civility in the public square campaign that serves as a model for faith communities around the world. Also, importantly, as a part of the JCPA, Steve served as a leader of the principal environmental advocacy organization in the Jewish community, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL).
In 2015 Gutow was appointed to the President’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and was accepted as a New York member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In addition, he serves as chair of the board of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, which is a partnership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Council of Churches and the JCPA.
He also served as chair from 2008 to 2009 of the Save Darfur Coalition, a U.S.-based advocacy group calling for international intervention in Sudan to try and stop the genocidal conflict there. He served on the Board of the Washington, D.C. based Faith in Public Life, an organization founded following the 2004 presidential election to help shape public debates and advance faith as a positive and unifying force for justice, compassion and the common good.
Steve, a Texas native, served in many leadership roles in Texas including the state board of the Texas Civil Liberties Union, as well as many other roles in local and state organizations.
Steve attended the University of Texas at Austin where he earned an undergraduate degree in History in 1970 and his Juris Doctorate in 1977. He received his rabbinical degree from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2003.
In May of 2016, Gutow gave the commencement address at Gratz College where he was awarded an honorary doctorate.
He has won many awards and written many articles. When Newsweek rated American rabbis Gutow was repeatedly recognized as one of the nation’s most influential rabbis in 2009, 2010, and 2012. He has also been recognized as one of the nation’s top Jewish leaders by The Forward. In 2001, Gutow was awarded both the Reconstructionist Student Association Prize for Social Action within the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and the Rabbi Devora Bartnoff Memorial Prize for Spiritually Motivated Social Action.