In 1989, Richard N. Goldman (1920-2010) and his wife Rhoda H. Goldman (1924-1996) established the Goldman Environmental Prize, stemming from their lifelong commitment to environmental protection, in order to recognize ordinary individuals working at the grassroots level who protect and enhance our environment.
Richard and Rhoda grew up in San Francisco and lived down the street from each other as young children. Richard was friends with one of Rhoda’s brothers. Eventually, both Richard and Rhoda attended the University of California at Berkeley. Following college, Richard spent four years in the armed services and returned to San Francisco in 1946. He later ran into Rhoda, the little girl from down the street, at a friend’s wedding. They were married within the year.
In 1949, Richard founded Goldman Insurance Services, a major insurance brokerage firm based in San Francisco. The firm was eventually sold to Willis Insurance in 2001. Rhoda Haas Goldman was a descendant of Levi Strauss and served on the Board of Directors of both the apparel company and the corporation’s philanthropic foundation.
In 1951, Richard and Rhoda started the Goldman Fund, a philanthropic foundation that gave away nearly half a billion dollars to a variety of nonprofit organizations that are making the world a better and safer place. The Goldmans are known for their commitment to arts and culture, Jewish affairs, and the environment.
Richard and Rhoda had four children, Richard (1947-1989), John, Susan, and Douglas. They have 11 grandchildren.
In 2014, we celebrated 25 years of the Prize by looking back at our founders’ motivation for awarding grassroots environmental activists, and honoring the achievements of those who had received the Prize so far: