Quiet Community Contributor

November 1, 2006 by  
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Local philanthropist Glen Rosenbaum is honored for a lifetime of help

We live in the age of branding. Our baseball team plays at Minute Maid Park and our football team at the Reliant Center. Many of our performing arts centers bear someone’s name: the Wortham Theater Center, the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Still, there are people whose names you never see on buildings, but whose generosity with money, time and talent has touched all of our lives. One of those people is Glen Rosenbaum.

Without Rosenbaum, many local, state, national and even global nonprofit organizations wouldn’t be where they are today. One of the top tax attorneys in the state of Texas, Rosenbaum has been with Vinson &Elkins, LLP for 33 years. He has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America for his work in tax law and as a “Texas Super Lawyer” in Texas Monthly.

His friends know he spends countless hours at his office. Sandy Sanford, who worked with Rosenbaum at Vinson &Elkins, recalls that one night at about 8, he realized he needed information from something he had left on his desk at the office. Sanford says his 10-year-old daughter asked him, “‘Why don’t you call Glen?’ She knew he’d be there, finishing up.”

Rosenbaum’s dogged legal work has reaped untold benefits for Houston and Texas taxpayers, while his pro bono efforts have helped provide access for Houston residents who desperately need food and health care, and truly appreciate sports and the performing arts. He led the Vinson &Elkins team that helped develop the Wortham Theater Center; and as Houston Grand Opera General Director and CEO Anthony Freud says, he “played a pivotal role” in the Wortham Center being the home of Houston’s opera and ballet companies. “It was an invaluable contribution to building the Houston Grand Opera,” Freud says, “and by implication … to the people and city of Houston.”

As proud as he is of Houston and what it has to offer, Rosenbaum takes little credit for what he does and never seeks the limelight. In fact, he says the credit goes to others for the community work he does. “This community has been wonderful to my family and me since my great-great-uncle came to Houston in the 1850s and also since my father arrived in 1937,” Rosenbaum says. “I have a strong sense of obligation to give back.”

That obligation extends beyond organizations to family and friends. Rosenbaum has many friends and is “Uncle Glen,” to almost all of their children. He provides them with chocolate every holiday season from a company his cousins own and showers his youngest friends with toys, especially the Lionel trains he loves.

Houston attorney Sarah Duckers credits him with much of what she considers good about her life. Rosenbaum recruited Duckers out of school to work at Vinson &Elkins. She says he taught her “how to be a proper lawyer and how to tend to clients,” and introduced her to the opera and to her husband, 11th District Court Judge Mark Davidson. Both Duckers and Davidson say Rosenbaum is a “tremendous friend,” who’ll do anything for them.

In fact, he helped them get chicken from restaurateur Vincent Mandola at 8 a.m. because that’s what Duckers was craving after the birth of their second child. Davidson says, “Glen told me: ‘Go to the back door of Vincent’s restaurant, and Vincent will have the chicken for you.’ So I did, and when Vincent handed me the chicken, he said, ‘Tell Mr. Rosenbaum congratulations on the birth of his son!'”

Another friend who has benefited from knowing Rosenbaum is Masterprize-winning composer Chris Theofanidis. He says Rosenbaum not only financed much of his arts education after his father died, but also encouraged him every step of the way; and he adds Rosenbaum has done the same for many aspiring artists. “There is a long list of people who have gone and pursued careers in the arts that may not have done so if Glen had not been there for them at a critical time,” Theofanidis says. Theofanidis dedicated his Masterprize-winning work, “Rainbow Body,” to Rosenbaum.

Rosenbaum has been there at a critical time for others and the organizations they represent, including the Houston Food Bank, the Greater Houston Partnership, Holocaust Museum Houston, Texas Taxpayers and Research Association, the Wortham Center, the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation (He helped bring the Dead Sea Scrolls to Houston.), the Houston Ballet, the Friends of the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention, and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The ADL is one of the nation’s foremost civil rights organizations, dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and hatred and working toward fair treatment for everyone. For all his accomplishments, the ADL is honoring Rosenbaum on Nov. 16 with its Torch of Liberty Award. The award is given every year to a leader who gives of himself to the community and who is committed to promoting respect and fighting hatred and bigotry.

Rosenbaum has done this as an ADL board member, board chair and national commissioner. “He has been one of our most supportive and effective board members and board chairs,” says ADL Southwest Regional Director Martin B. Cominsky. “He helped us establish an office in Austin, where there was a great need, and that’s just one example of how effective he is. We’re very proud to be giving him the Torch of Liberty Award.”

While Rosenbaum avoids the limelight, he says he’s pleased to be honored, but he has a very practical reason for serving the community behind the scenes. “There is much to be done,” he says, “and it’s easier and faster to get things done quietly. Then we can move on to the next project.”

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