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Press Release

May 16, 2022
Contact: Michele St. Martin, Communications Director
651-487-7778 | [email protected]


Minneapolis, MN: It is with tremendous sadness that PACER Center announces the death of its co-founder and longtime executive director, Paula F. Goldberg, who died of natural causes on May 15, 2022 at her home in California. She was 79.

“Paula was an extraordinary individual with tremendous vision whose leadership, advocacy, and passion has made the world a better place for countless numbers of children with disabilities and their families,” said Mark O'Leary, President of PACER’s Board of Directors. “After co-founding PACER in 1977, she led its growth from one project to more than 30 programs supporting children with all disabilities and their families. Paula was a nationally recognized leader on disability issues and instrumental in the creation of parent information centers throughout the country that support families of children with disabilities.”

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar called Goldberg’s death a “heartbreaking loss” and referred to Goldberg as a visionary leader who stood up for kids with disabilities and their families. Klobuchar added, “I got involved in PACER when I reached out to Paula after our daughter was born with an unexpected serious swallowing issue. I didn't hold elected office, but Paula counseled me and took me under her wing with so much kindness, just like she did for so many parents. We later learned that our daughter did not have a permanent disability, but getting to know Paula and the families she worked with was a lifetime gift. I later had the privilege to serve on PACER’s advisory board.

“Through our decades of friendship, I watched Paula advocate with such joy. She improved so many people’s lives. She never rested on her laurels. She was always ready to take PACER to the next level. We will miss her.”

U.S. Senator Tina Smith said, “Archie and I are saddened to learn of Paula Goldberg’s passing, and send our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and colleagues. Paula was a dedicated advocate and champion for youth with disabilities and an incredible support to parents and their families. Her work and legacy has been felt throughout the state of Minnesota and the country and touched thousands of lives. She will be deeply missed.”

Goldberg was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the FBI Director's Community Leadership Award (2012) and the University of Minnesota Alumni of the Year Award (2018).

She is survived by her son, Robert; daughter-in-law, Sheryl Sandberg; and five grandchildren. Goldberg was preceded in death by her husband, law school professor and dean Mel Goldberg, and her elder son, entrepreneur and business leader David Goldberg.

For more detailed information about Goldberg's life and achievements, go to

PACER's Associate Director, Gretchen Godfrey, who has been with PACER since 2004 and worked closely with Goldberg, has been named interim executive director. The PACER board of directors will conduct a search for a new executive director.