Our History

Established in 1999 by the Alan V. and Amy Lowenstein Foundation, the Institute provides a dynamic and independent voice for change necessary to create just, vibrant, and inclusive urban communities throughout New Jersey. 

Over the course of their shared life together, spanning more than 60 years, Alan and Amy Lowenstein always supported efforts seeking to advance social justice for the benefit of all members of society. So it was in early 1993 that New Jersey lawyer and community leader, Alan V. Lowenstein, first proposed the establishment of a New Jersey law Institute to advance social justice for the benefit of all members of society. Armed with a rough proposal of what this institute would look like, Mr. Lowenstein sought the advice of the friends and experts who could best help him shape the organization and purposes of the Institute. Two participants in the earliest discussions included New Jersey Chief Justice Robert N. Wilentz, who used his court to promote social progress and equality, and Justice Stewart G. Pollock.


And we must act.

- Alan V. Lowenstein, Esq., Founder


Key issues they considered were whether the Institute’s goals should be scholarly or activist, how to best compose a board of trustees that would serve the Institute’s mission independent from influences of governmental, business or other interests; development of a mandate focused enough to provide direction to trustees yet adequately broad to afford them the ability to address the issues they deem most important and relevant; and how to articulate the Institute’s goals in a manner both true to its mission yet mindful of the interests of potential financial supporters.

By late 1996, with resources he gained through the sale of the Lowensteins’ family business, United Steel and Aluminum Corporation, Alan Lowenstein prepared to incorporate the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. But there still were two remaining steps: filling out the board of trustees and determining more precisely the mission of NJISJ.

Mr. Lowenstein asked several friends who shared his concern for social justice to serve as the initial officers and trustees, and all accepted. They included: Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, former U.S. Attorney General; Dickinson R. Debevoise, Senior U.S. District Court Judge; Douglas S. Eakeley, Chairman of the Legal Services Corporation and former Assistant Attorney General of New Jersey; Theodore V. Wells, Mr. Lowenstein’s former law partner and nationally prominent attorney; and Roger A. Lowenstein, Alan’s son, a New Jersey and California attorney. Joining this group were another six distinguished trustees.