“I don’t want to be name drop-y,” Rachel Goldstein says, as she reveals that she’s “super close” to The Roots. She continues. Donna Karan is her close friend, and Russell Simmons was at her 18th birthday party. Deepak Chopra is on speed dial.
But while Goldstein revels in the power of her connections, she’s not using it to get into exclusive clubs or Hollywood soirees. Instead, she’s turned her network into a whirlwind force for good in the world, with her event production and marketing company, Agent of Change.
“My mantra is ‘everything has to make a difference,’” Goldstein says.
Goldstein, a native New Yorker, says she grew up in a “PR and marketing family.” In the span of her career, she worked in film and television, and as a publicist (“I hate that term,” she notes), but she found her niche producing events, like a a giant concert at the Apollo for MoveOn.org that featured the Black Eyed Peas and an up-and-coming Kanye West.
But it wasn’t until Donna Karan took her to Turks and Caicos for a yoga retreat with Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman Yee (the designer’s daughter and Goldstein were childhood friends) that her life’s mission started to become clear. Urban Zen was born on that trip, and Goldstein worked for Karan for four years, where she put together panels (and beefed up her bulging Rolodex) with speakers like Dr. Oz, Dr. Dean Ornish, and Kris Carr.
An Urban Zen event for Haiti relief caught the attention of The Standard, who wooed her away with an unbelievable salary bump. She lasted 90 days. “I was miserable. I could feel it, and they could see it,” she says.
Goldstein ditched the swanky job and started Agent of Change in 2010, where, in her first year, the events she planned raised more than five million dollars for charity—from a Moby concert for children in Cambodia to a Walkabout Foundation fundraiser that featured Bill Clinton as a speaker.
Today, her client list is like a who’s who of the wellness world: Celeb physicians Alejandro Junger and Mark Hyman hired her to promote their books; Urban Zen and the Tibet House turn to her for events. Even Lululemon tapped her for last year’s Gospel of Sweat. This month, she managed the New York presence for Eve Ensler’s One Billion Rising campaign.
With her chakras recently cleared (Goldstein’s a fan of alt-health modalities) and an approaching 40th birthday, she’s moving to Woodstock to commune with nature. But she’s not taking a break. She’s working on launching an app and a Youtube Channel that will feature the combined expertise of her beyond-powerful network. What drives her to succeed?
“I’m inspired by women who’ve taken a stand for things,” she says, telling me a story that sounds like the perfect metaphor for how far she’s come. After producing the 20th anniversary Equality Now event last year, she found herself next to Donna Karan, Eve Ensler, media star Pat Mitchell, and one of her mentors, Sunny Bates. “I just dropped my clipboard and went in for hugs.” —Lisa Elaine Held