Needham resident Derrek Shulman announced at the end of January that he would be stepping down from his position as the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) regional director for New England.
He cites two reasons for stepping down: first that the job can be "truly consumptive," and he wants to spend more time with his family. The second, that he feels he has accomplished what he set out to do with the ADL.
"Every time someone is a victim of discrimination, I get a call," Shulman said. "It is a privilege and an honor."
Shulman told Patch that the moment he started considering stepping down came last fall. His son had a taekwondo belt test scheduled for a Tuesday, to earn the green belt.
"Needless to say, on Tuesday, something came up," Shulman said.
He missed the test, and while apologizing, his son told him, "dad, I didn't pass. But I would have if you'd been there."
After announcing his intention to the ADL board, he agreed to stay on for a few extra weeks to help with the transition.
When he took the position in '08, he "made a commitment: I would restore the ADL to the luster it once had," Shulman said.
The organization was, "deeply wounded," as Shulman put it, in '07, following a controversy over the 1915-23 Armenian genocide in modern-day Turkey. His predecessor was fired after he broke ranks with the ADL leadership, saying the organization should acknowledge the incident. There was no director for a year.
Within five years, Shulman was able to double the intake of the annual fundraising campaign, and bring the region from the fifth largest to the second.
During his time, he points at a few stand-out accomplishments with the ADL. In 2009, the ADL started its Latino-Jewish roundtable, bringing together members of both communities to develop alliances and promote understanding. The 2010 cyberbullying initiative, which influenced legislation in Mass., he said was partially inspired by cases of teen suicide in Needham. And, the 2011 event featuring Nobel Laureate and author Elie Wiesel entitled, "the New Anti-Semitism."
He also noted that, when he began, the board of directors was largely from Needham, Newton and Brookline. In the five years since, the board has become more representative of all of New England.
Shulman added that he was inspired by the opportunity to meet the family of Leonard Zakim, for whom the Zakim Bridge in Boston is named--who was also one of his predecessors. The bridges built by the League are personified in the bridge, Shulman says.
When the transition is over, he will consult for two organizations, which will give him some more time with his family. Shulman will also be assistant coaching a little league team, and is building snow forts with his kids.
He was able to walk his kids to classes at the Newman School last week.