Goldstein – Van Nortwick Award for Excellence
This competitive award recognizes a project of significant impact work undertaken by a Foundation grantee. To be eligible, the project must affect a substantial number of poor persons, address an important poverty-law issue, involve a significant commitment of grantee program resources and staff, and reflect legal work which is of a high professional level.
The Steven M. Goldstein Award for Excellence was established by The Florida Bar Foundation board of directors in 1995 to honor the memory of Steven M. Goldstein. Goldstein, a former legal services attorney and professor of law at Florida State University College of Law, was a tireless advocate of the legal rights of the poor and disadvantaged and was respected nationally for his dedication to upholding the constitutional rights of those with unpopular causes. At the time of his death in 1994, at the age of 49, Goldstein was chair of the legal assistance for the poor grant committee and about to become secretary-treasurer of the Foundation. For many years, he served as the touchstone by which the Foundation measured the significance of its mission and its progress.
In 2019, the award was renamed the Goldstein – Van Nortwick Award for Excellence. Goldstein was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in 1995. Twenty years later, in 2015, the Medal of Honor was awarded to former Foundation president William A. Van Nortwick for his decades of leadership involving pro bono and legal services. Bill and Steve knew each other for years, meeting first as Foundation board members in 1990. They became fast friends and even running and fishing buddies. They made board meetings interesting, often taking opposite sides on important legal aid issues. Yet, they had the utmost respect for each other.
On January 12, 2019, Bill passed away. Bill and Steve both were wholly committed to improving Florida’s justice system and did so with grace and passion. The newly-named award honors the life, legacy and friendship of two champions whose commitment to those less fortunate while remaining true to the highest principles of our judicial system helped create the touchstone by which we measure excellence.