Posted in .

Mountain States Spotlight with ADL Board Member Carolyn Shulman

  • October 10, 2017


New ADL Board Member Carolyn Shulman is an attorney, volunteer and musician whose passions include her family and the timeless mission of the Anti-Defamation League.

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

I became involved in ADL shortly after moving to Denver in 2014. A friend told me about an ADL ON young professionals’ discussion about the movie “Selma.” My husband and I attended and enjoyed the thoughtful discussion. I then met with Associate Regional Director Sue Parker Gerson to discuss ways to become more involved in ADL. Sue recommended applying to the Robert B. Sturm Mountain States Leadership Fellows Program, which I did, and I participated as a Sturm Fellow for the 2015-2016 year.

Attending the 2016 ADL National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. was a highlight of that program, which further motivated me to continue my involvement with the organization. Following the Sturm Fellowship, I signed up for the board mentorship program with Mountain States Board Member Sara Zessar as my mentor, and this year I was very honored and excited to be nominated and elected to the Mountain States Regional Board.

What do you do in your professional life?

I am an attorney but am not currently practicing law. Since my husband, daughter and I moved to Denver from Houston, Texas three years ago, I have been taking some time off from law practice to be a full-time parent to our four-year-old daughter Sarah. When I was working as a lawyer, I practiced Social Security Disability Law with Morgan & Weisbrod, L.L.P. in Houston.

I’ve also recently become more focused on playing music, which has been a hobby of mine since I began playing guitar at age nine. I play guitar and mandolin, as well as sing and write folk songs. A close friend from college with whom I used to play music moved to Denver this July, and she and I have been working on playing together again as a folk duo. Keep an eye out for us at a venue near you soon!

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

When I was a very young kid, I used to say I wanted to be an acrobat. I quickly discovered I’m not cut out for that line of work.

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

I was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama.

My father’s family emigrated from Ukraine in the early 1900s, and my paternal grandfather ultimately settled in Huntsville, Alabama where my father and his siblings were raised. Most of the rest of my father’s family settled in Rochester and other east coast cities.

My mother’s side of the family immigrated from Germany, Hungary, and France in the 1800s and has very deep roots in the American South. My great, great, great grandfather, Samuel Ullman, immigrated from Germany to Port Gibson, Mississippi in 1851 at the age of eleven to escape persecution. He later fought in the Civil War and then settled in Birmingham, Alabama, where he served on the city’s first board of education and successfully advocated for creating schools for African American children in Birmingham at a time when African Americans had little to no access to education. He also wrote poetry, and one poem, entitled “Youth,” later found its way to Japan, where it resonated with many people; Japanese children learn this poem in school and memorize it still to this day. If you ever find yourself in Birmingham, Alabama, you can visit the Ullman family home, which has been made into a museum operated by the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

My maternal great, great grandfather, Morris Newfield (married to Samuel Ullman’s daughter) was a member of one of Hebrew Union College’s earliest graduating classes and became Birmingham’s first Reform rabbi at Temple Emanu-El. Rabbi Newfield was particularly known as an interfaith leader with a passion for pursuing social justice.

What’s your favorite holiday?

Halloween, but I also love Passover and Thanksgiving.

What’s your favorite food?


What are you reading?

1984 by George Orwell

What’s a special place you have visited?

In 1997, I went to Israel for six weeks on a NFTY (National Federation of Temple Youth) Reform movement youth group trip. It was an amazing experience that helped to further shape my Jewish identity, and I’ve felt a connection to Israel ever since.

What’s one thing every person should know or experience?

I think every person should have the opportunity to feel a sense of belonging to a community. The way the Denver Jewish community has embraced my husband, daughter and me and become like family has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of life in Denver for us.

What are you passionate about personally? What can’t you stop talking about?

I am passionate about ADL and its mission! I can’t think of a time when ADL’s dual mission of stopping the defamation of the Jewish people and securing justice and fair treatment for all has been more important, at least in my lifetime. I constantly find myself talking about the work ADL does to fight hate groups, provide anti-bias education to law enforcement and in schools, and to advocate for Jews and many other marginalized groups who find themselves as targets of hatred. I’m proud to help ADL pursue its mission.

Where can we find you when you’re not working?

You can likely find me hiking with my husband and daughter, hanging out with friends, or volunteering at our synagogue, Congregation Rodef Shalom.

What would be impossible for you to give up?

LaCroix sparkling water.

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

Guitar lessons.

Complete this sentence: For me, the ADL is …

For me, ADL is fulfilling a mission that grows more critical every day in the current cultural climate, and it is more important than ever to support it.