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Mountain States Spotlight with ADL Board Member and Associate National Commissioner David Brody

  • November 6, 2017

David Brody

ADL board member and associate national commissioner David Brody is a true Renaissance man. He shares why he is passionate about his work, his family, science and the civil rights mission of the Anti-Defamation League.


How did you first become involved in ADL? How are you involved now?

My first involvement with ADL was attending Civil Rights Committee meetings in the early 1980s, and later serving as co-chair of that committee.  The Civil Rights Committee and the issues on which its members focus are the heart and soul of ADL and reflect the primary mission of the entire organization.  I was and I still am stimulated by the important substantive issues and debates on those issues addressed by that committee.  I have also had the honor of co-chairing the annual Governor’s Holocaust Remembrance Program.  My involvement now consists of being on the regional board and as an associate member of the National Commission.

What do you do in your professional life?

I started practicing law in Denver in the mid-1970s in the field of domestic and international oil and gas transactions.  I’m now with Hogan Lovells US LLP.  Colorado is a major producer of oil and gas, which comprises a large part of the local economy, so there’s a very active and vibrant oil and gas legal community in Denver.  I’ve also been actively involved in the aircraft industry for about twelve years as a principal in two companies developing advanced technology aircraft.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Throughout my childhood, my grandparents asked me this same question repeatedly, but phrased it somewhat differently.  They said, “Are you going to be a doctor or a lawyer?”  So naturally, I thought those were my only two choices.  In my teens and through college I was fascinated by history, political science, and the political institutions that humankind forms.  The role that the law plays in society seemed like a good choice for me.

Where were you born? From where do your ancestors hail?

I was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, where I still have a handful of family members.  My parents were first generation Americans, with my grandparents arriving in the U.S. from Russia and Poland in the early 1900s, seeking a safe haven.  Their inspiring story is similar to stories we’ve heard many hundreds of thousands of times. To fulfill my father’s childhood dream of being a cowboy and raising cattle, he bought a ranch in the early 1960s and my family moved to Carr, Colorado when I was 13 years old.  At that time, Carr had a population of 50 people  with a post office and a general store with a gas pump, and it’s now an official ghost town.

What are you reading?

I love to read non-fiction books about those figures and events which were and are pivotal in enlightening humankind, improving the world, developing technology, and objectively describing and revealing truths.  For example, The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin, The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski, David McCullough’s biography of The Wright Brothers, books about Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, and the new book by Walter Isaacson on Leonardo da Vinci.

What’s a special place you have visited?

In recent years, my wife Susan and I and our family have been fortunate to travel to Israel, Japan and to the Galapagos Islands for vacation.  They are all definitely special places.

What are you passionate about personally?

I’m passionate about my family and close friends, civil rights, my career, and my current efforts as part of the XTI Aircraft team, developing the world’s first long-range commercial vertical takeoff airplane, the TriFan 600.

If you had to teach something, what would you teach?

Years ago, I taught classes on the legal system and business law.  Now I would teach people about the seven greatest scientific discoveries in history and the people who made them: Gravity and the basic laws of physics, the structure of the atom, the Big Bang, relativity, evolution, the cell and the structure of the DNA molecule.

Tell me a story that immediately pops into your mind that was a defining or significant moment for you.

In 1988, I happened to turn to an article in the Intermountain Jewish News about a Seder that was going to be held in Vail for the Vail Jewish community and the out-of-town skiers.  The article had the name and a photo of the beautiful organizer (and acting Rabbi) for the Seder: Susan Butterman, who became Susan Brody a year later.  When I saw that photo, I called her, which turned out to be the most defining and significant moment of my life.  I believe that each of us is largely in control of his or her own destiny, but this story is a wonderful example of how our lives are also enormously impacted by small twists and turns, and that life is all about our relationships.

Why do you choose to make a financial investment in ADL?

Going back to my first involvement with ADL in the 1980s, I’ve enthusiastically supported the critical role that the organization plays in shining a spotlight on injustices, establishing acceptable standards of behavior in society, and helping to peacefully enforce those standards through laws and policies.  Susan and I, and our entire family, are extremely passionate about ADL and we’re grateful for all the work done in the Mountain States Regional Office by the dedicated staff, and by volunteers and donors around the world who make it possible for ADL to continue carrying out its incredibly important mission.