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ADL Southwest Region: 66 Years of Fighting Hate for Good

  • July 7, 2023

On Monday, July 10, 2023, ADL celebrates 110 years of fighting antisemitism, hatred and bigotry with Giving Day 2023, an opportunity for you to fund more anti-bias work and have your gift matched.

Did you know that for 66 of those years, ADL has had a Southwest Regional Office dedicated to fighting hate in the southern part of Texas? Established in the late 1950s, the Southwest Regional Office, based in Houston, has worked hard to challenge bias and promote respect, and just like ADL’s national organization, the region has seen numerous milestones. Here are a few of the Southwest Region’s accomplishments through the decades.  We hope you’re as proud of them as we are! We hope you’ll help us continue this important work by using and sharing the following donation link on or before July 10, so that your gift can be matched and count double:

  • 1950’s–ADL’s Southwest Regional Office established. Early on, its leaders are dedicated to fighting extremist groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan
  • 1960’s–Southwest Region elects first female board chair, Mallory Robinson, under whose leadership the agency works with the Black community to desegregate public schools, stop racial discrimination in home loans known as redlining, and convinces Houston Public Schools to give Jewish students excused holidays for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Torch of Liberty Award is established in the 1960’s.
  • 1970’s–Members of ADL Southwest’s Board embark on a mission to help Soviet Jews, bringing supplies and other resources to Jews in the U.S.S.R., and continue to work with African American and Latino friends to end school desegregation. Southwest Region’s Jurisprudence Award, arguably the most coveted recognition in Houston’s legal community, is established.
  • 1980’s– ADL Southwest works with local leaders, including media mogul and civic leader Oveta Culp Hobby to respond to the Arab Oil Embargo and promote ADL causes. ADL also launches A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute anti-bias training in the Southwest Region. ADL gets Houston Public Schools to give Jewish teachers excused holidays on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
  • 1990’s–ADL Board Chair Regina Rogers creates the Coalition for Mutual Respect, bringing together clergy and community leaders to speak with a unified voice against hate. ADL responds to the hate-motivated murder of James Byrd, Jr., by connecting with and supporting his family members, monitoring the murderers’ trials, and helping to address resulting racial tensions. The Jurisprudence Award is renamed in memory of beloved board chair Karen H. Susman which deepens the significance of the award for many recipients. Southwest Region Education Director Susan Shaw creates the region’s Teacher Excellence Award honoring teachers who create a respectful, inclusive environment in their classrooms. Southwest Regional Board also hires visionary Regional Director Martin Cominsky, who brings significant national initiatives to the region, creates new initiatives, and expands ADL’s staff, board, and reach.
  • 2000’s–ADL works with James Byrd, Jr.’s family, legislators like board member and then State Representative Scott Hochman, State Representative Senfronia Thompson and State Senator Rodney Ellis to strengthen Texas’ hate crime law and name it after Byrd. ADL also works with the agency’s national leadership and the Byrd family to strengthen the federal hate crime law and name it after Byrd and Matthew Shepard. Shaw and Cominsky bring the No Place for Hate® Initiative to the Southwest Region, and turn it into an anti-bias program in schools. No Place for Hate grows from 10 schools in 2001 to hundreds in the region, and  is adopted all across the country. The Region’s Teacher Excellence Award is renamed the Walter Kase Educator Excellence Award in honor of Holocaust survivor Kase, who dedicated the end of his life to telling students what he learned about hate and love during the Holocaust. Cominsky and longtime Senior Associate Director Jodi Bernstein create the Community of Respect™, helping businesses and corporations promote respect and diversity within their organizations. With the help of Southwest Region leadership, ADL creates an Austin office.
  • 2010’s–Cominsky and staff bring ADL’s Concert Against Hate, which originated in Washington, D.C., to Houston, honoring civil rights heroes through performances by orchestras, theaters, and other forms of entertainment. Senior Associate Director Bernstein and a group of female lay leaders, led by former board Chair Sherry Bender Levy, create the region’s Women’s Initiative, designed to provide vital information to women leaders and engage them in the work of ADL. The region also continued its decades-long efforts to push back against the encroachment of religion into the public schools.
  • 2020’s-Southwest Region continues to fight hate in every corner: from providing Words to Action trainings that help students and family members recognize and respond to antisemitism, to fighting increased hate against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community prompted by COVID-1. The region also is helping corporations understand and respond to antisemitism and bias, providing professional development classes on hate and violent extremism to hundreds of law enforcement officers every year, continuing K-12 educational programs such as No Place for Hate, and advocating for voting rights and civil rights in the Texas legislature. ADL Southwest Regional Director Mark Toubin creates a new position to expand the agency’s reach in El Paso and hires Peter Svarzbein as the El Paso Community Engagement Manager.

The accomplishments listed here just scratch the surface, and you can see that our work is far-reaching and never-ending. You can be instrumental in helping us continue.

Help us get at least 110 donors to give to ADL on Giving Day, July 10.  You can donate here at  If you do so on or before July 10, your gift will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to $110,000.  Also, please ask your friends to help you support ADL’s work. Send them the link and encourage them to make their gifts count double.

We are 110% dedicated to #FightingHateForGood, but we can’t do it without your help!  Celebrate Giving Day and 110 years of important, life-saving work today.