A co-founder and long-time Executive Director of FOCUS Greater Syracuse, Charlotte Holstein, known as Chuckie since childhood, is a “civic trustee” seeking to improve the quality of life for all – locally and globally. In recognition of her service LeMoyne College awarded her an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, in 1998. Syracuse University awarded her a Doctor of Letters Honoris Causa in 2015. A graduate of SUNY College at Brockport, she served on the board of the Brockport Foundation. The Post Standard newspaper honored her twice naming her the “All Time Woman of Achievement.”
This Wisdom Keeper’s long legacy of community building is evident. In 2007 she was one of Civic Ventures and Atlantic Philanthropies national Purpose Prize awardees for community service. The prize recognizes the work of leaders for success in their encore careers. Chuckie co-founded FOCUS In 1997-98, served as Executive Director until 2017, and continues to lead and motivate.
There’s a lot of work involved with the glory. She chaired the National Committee on the Role of Women and participated in the American Jewish Committee-sponsored “Women’s Interreligious Mission” to Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Israel. At the 1985 United Nations NGO Conference for Women in Nairobi, Kenya, Chuckie delivered a paper on elderly women and led an AJC delegation to the 1995 United Nations World Conference for Women in Beijing, China. She co-led a delegation to four countries in South America and met with leaders of each country. She met with Pope John Paul to discuss human rights and human relations. AJC honored her with the National Leadership award.
Chuckie served on the Advisory Committee for the White House Conferences on Families in the Carter administration, the New York State Board of Social Welfare in Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s administration, and as a member of the New York State Division for Youth in Gov. Hugh Carey’s administration.
The New York State Court of Appeals appointed Holstein a member of the Board of Trustees of the New York State Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection. She also was a member of the Central New York District Advisory Board for Key Bank.
Her work has made an impact locally. She is a founder of Leadership Greater Syracuse, the Syracuse Commission for Women, Meals on Wheels, and the City/County Office on Aging. With University College of Syracuse University, she was instrumental in creating Citizens’ Academy about local governments. She chaired the SU School of Social Work Advisory Committee and was instrumental in forming the “All University Gerontology Center,” now the Aging Studies institute.
She served for 13 years as chair of Loretto, a multi-service cluster of organizations that provides care for older people. She spearheaded the development of The Nottingham. In 2015 she was the inaugural recipient of the John J. Costello Leadership Award.
Not one to shy away from challenges, Holstein was vice-chair of the board at Manlius Pebble Hill School during the 1970 merger of the Manlius Military Academy and Pebble Hill School.
Her work resonates in 2021. In 2007 FOCUS in Syracuse was among four sites selected nationwide to conduct a community-wide citizen engagement forum titled “Public Engagement Project on Community Control Measures for Pandemic Influenza” on behalf of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Pandemic Flu Public Engagement project was the co-winner of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Project of the Year award.
Syracuse Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll proclaimed October 16, 2007, as “Charlotte (Chuckie) Holstein Commitment to Community Day” and planted a red maple tree downtown in her honor. Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney declared Sept. 1, 2015, “Chuckie Holstein Recognition Day,” and the recognitions continue.
She and Alexander Holstein, also a civic leader, raised 4 children. Their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren each participate in the civic engagement of their communities.
Chuckie Holstein speaks often of her family’s commitment to the tradition of “tzedakah,” a Hebrew word for righteousness, fairness, and justice, and the responsibility to transmit these values from generation to generation, “L’dor V’dor.”