Appointed members of the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission:
Jeff Aranowski is the Division Supervisor for Public School Recognition within the Office of the General Counsel at the Illinois State Board of Education. In that role, Jeff works to coordinate compliance of public school districts with regional offices of education and intermediate service centers. He also serves as the Agency's emergency management contact and point of contact for bullying in Illinois schools. He has also been named State Homeless Education Coordinator and works with a host of organizations to ensure that homeless youth receive the education and related services that they deserve.
"Education is the absolute key to not only understanding historical events, but also in integrating those experiences into who we are as individuals and a people. The work of the Commission lends itself to these goals. I am honored to sit at the same table as my fellow Commissioners, as they are extraordinary examples of knowledge, understanding, and courage."
Greg Bedian is the Director of Engineering at the Chicago Design Center of Ubiquiti Networks, working with a team of engineers designing radios for the wireless data industry. Greg resides in Arlington Heights and has spent over 30 years as an activist raising awareness of the Holocaust and genocides in Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur. He has served at the local, regional and national level of the Armenian National Committee of America, which works for the advancement of human, civil and social rights and fights against genocide denial through advocacy and direct action. He was co-founder of the Genocide Education Network of Illinois, which provides teacher training and promotes genocide education in Illinois public schools.
"I became involved with the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission to help raise public awareness about genocide and genocide denial. By leveraging the many resources of the public and private institutions around the state, I hope that the commission will be able to help schools and educators fulfill the state mandate on Holocaust and Genocide education, helping to provide our youth and our society with a strong moral compass to help prevent future genocides and stop genocide denial."
Noreen B. Brand
Noreen Brand is Director of Education for the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Illinois. Noreen is the 2010 Spirit of Anne Frank Outstanding Educator. She is responsible for the development of the education programs and initiatives for the museum. Noreen moved to the Chicago area after a 12 year tenure with the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, where she was director of curatorial affairs, responsible for oversight of all exhibitions, education and public programs, which included traveling exhibitions, survivor/liberator services, docent training, exhibition training, teacher training workshops, annual summer institutes for teachers, as well as the March of the Living and state and national teacher training.
Noreen has worked with the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust and Education Remembrance and Research and facilitated trainings in the attic at Terezin. Most recently she presented at the ITF Conference in the Hague (11.11). Noreen has hosted teachers from the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary for teacher training institutes in the USA. Noreen is a past member of the Florida Commissioner of Education's Task Force on Holocaust Education, the Association of Holocaust Organizations, as well as a presenter and instructor at Jagiellonian University, Krakow Poland and numerous other state, national and international conferences.
"I would like to see the establishment of statewide centers that can house teaching trunks and act as centers hosting programs and commemorations for the Commission."
Danny M. Cohen, PhD
Danny M. Cohen is a learning scientist, fiction writer, and education designer. His debut novel Train - set in Berlin 1943 - is accompanied by new educational programming that supports educators to integrate Roma, disabled, homosexual, and other victim narratives within and alongside the Jewish Holocaust narrative.
An assistant professor of instruction at Northwestern University's School of Education and Social Policy and The Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies, Danny specializes in the design of Holocaust and human rights education. He teaches undergraduate courses on education and program design, including "The Holocaust and Education," "Holocaust Memory, Memorials, and Museums," and "Program Design and Implementation." Danny's research focuses on best practices for teaching about the Holocaust and genocide.
With a background in Jewish youth work and human rights programming, Danny is the founder of Unsilence Project, a Chicago-based non-profit that creates and delivers compelling learning experiences that address hidden, marginalized, and taboo narratives of the Holocaust, atrocity, and human rights. He sits on the editorial advisory board of the journal The Holocaust in History in Memory and was a 2013 faculty fellow of the Auschwitz Jewish Center. Danny is particularly interested in the Nazis' persecution of homosexuals and how collective memories of this history inform our understanding of and responses to state-sponsored persecution and murder of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people around the world today.
Senator Kirk Dillard
Sanja Seferovic Drnovsek
Sanja Seferovic Drnovsek is the Director of the Bosnian-American Genocide Institute and Education Center (BAGI), which is the American branch of the Institute for Research of Crimes Against Humanity and International Law at the University of Sarajevo. BAGI is most proud of its participation in a recent accomplishment: the adoption of a resolution by the State of Illinois to commemorate and honor the victims of the Srebrenica Genocide. Sanja is an educator at Aspira Haugan Middle School in Chicago and at Triton College. She holds a Master of Arts in Teaching with an emphasis on Social Science and ESL. Her educational and professional backgrounds are in law; she holds a J.D. degree in regional law and practiced law prior to coming to the United States from Bosnia.
"I was repeatedly shocked by the lack of knowledge I saw among the public about Holocaust and other genocides. I was also regularly repulsed by the public speeches of those who would deny the Holocaust and /or other genocides, and particularly the Bosnian genocide, which was either underrepresented or misrepresented in media, education, and among the public. I wish for us to reach as many educational institutions as we can to assist them in educating young people and others in the public about these atrocities and to do so using accurate information."
Sonia Stohl Edelman
Sonia Stohl Edelman is a former educator in Chicago and Vernon Hills. She holds a degree from Roosevelt University in education and has done post graduate work in reading. Sonia teaches religious school twice a week and has an extensive program about the Holocaust. She volunteers with literacy groups to broaden the horizons for children and adults. Sonia continues her path in education by working for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as a manager in sales and operations.
"As a child of two Holocaust survivors my outlook on life, education and tolerance were molded by these events. I want to make certain that holocausts and genocides NEVER happen again and believe education is the key to a better world. I want to make sure that our state leads the fight for tolerance, understanding and knowledge. Only through these progressive movements, can we assure that future generations never experience the horrors and magnitude of intolerance displayed in our lifetime."
State Representative Sara Feigenholtz
Representative Sara Feigenholtz is the state Representative for Illinois 12th District representing parts of Lakeview, Lincoln Park and near north neighborhoods in the General Assembly. She sponsored the bill in the General Assembly that created this Commission because she thinks it’s important to increase public awareness and education on issues surrounding the Holocaust and genocide.
Rep. Feigenholtz feels the more visible we make these issues and the more we educate the public and future generations, the less likely we are to experience these kinds of tragedies in the future.
"It is my hope that the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission will successfully collaborate with the state’s museums, educators, and organizations to build on the state’s culture of tolerance. Education still remains the most effective method in protecting human rights. Human rights have always been of deep interest to me because of how the Holocaust touched my life and the lives of so many around me. I am honored to serve on this Commission."
Fritzie Fritzshall is the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center President. Fritzie wants everyone to know that she has a wonderful family and her husband who is deceased, was in WWII on the Pacific Front.
Fritzie was motivated to become involved with Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission because of her volunteer work at the museum and being a survivor of the Holocaust.
"Teaching the lessons of the Holocaust and Genocide is something I have dedicated my life to. I want to encourage teacher training and student learning about man’s continued inhumanity to man."
Richard S. Hirschhaut
Rick Hirschhaut has been a human rights advocate for over three decades. He currently serves as Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), a leading global humanitarian organization. Rick spent this past decade creating, establishing and serving as founding Executive Director of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. Under Rick’s leadership, the museum hosted over one half million visitors, including heads of state and other dignitaries, and spearheaded myriad education and training initiatives.
In early 2014, Rick served as a consultant to Aegis Trust, a UK-based NGO dedicated to the prevention of crimes against humanity. As Director of International Outreach for Kwibuka20, he focused upon building support for the 20th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
During over two decades with the Anti-Defamation League, including ten years as its Midwest Director, Rick built bridges between Jewish and African-American communities and worked closely with law enforcement on issues of anti-Semitism and extremism.
Rick earned a B.A. in International Relations and Judaic Studies from Tulane University and also studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Maria Korkatsch-Groszko, PhD
Maria Korkatsch-Groszko is Professor Emerita of Northeastern Illinois University (1975-2013). She holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Loyola University of Chicago with an emphasis on Curriculum Development and Instruction. An additional degree, with a focus on Eastern European History, was utilized in course delivery, workshops, seminars and conferences at the local, state, and national levels. Providing appropriate historical in-depth guidance, participants were offered the opportunity to prepare Instructional Units and Learning Centers/Folios with a focus on the Holocaust and other Genocides, in addition to other topics as mandated by the Illinois State Learning Standards. During her tenured position at Northeastern Illinois University, Maria designed and participated in the implementation of undergraduate and graduate degrees in Bilingual-Bicultural and Elementary Education leading to Illinois State Certification and compliance with certification articulation across 39 states. She has been the Coordinator of these programs; also, Associate Chair and Chair of the Department of Teacher Education.
Dr. Korkatsch-Groszko serves on the Ukrainian Genocide Famine Foundation - USA, Inc. and multiple Executive Boards in the Ukrainian community of Chicago and suburbs. She also serves on the National Education Council of Ukrainian Schools in U.S.A.
“Only knowledge and awareness can prevent atrocities against humanity from reoccurring.”
Leon Lim is a teacher of mathematics and programmer at Northside College Preparatory High School, a Chicago Public School. He assists in the educational planning of students through proper programming during the students’ high school career. Ever since arriving in Chicago in 1981, Mr. Lim has been involved with the Cambodian Association of Illinois. He became the president of the board from 1988-1993; was the co-founder and chairperson of the Cambodian American Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial. In 1975, after the Khmer Rouge took over, he spent the next four years in a forced labor camp. He survived the Killing Fields. In 1979 he escaped Cambodia and fled to Thailand.
"I would rather see a deeper sense of obligation and urgency instilled in the idea that teaching about the Holocaust and the various genocides are only the beginning that I must end with the elimination of all forms of HATRED!"
State Representative Sidney Mathias
George Mavropoulos is a retired Electrical Engineer and still active as a consultant for Nuclear Power Plants. He is the past President and current Vice President of the Pontian Greek Society of Chicago and Director of The Asia Minor and Pontos Hellenic Research Center.
The Pontian Greek Society’s goal is to preserve the rich heritage passed down to them from their parents and grandparents, who were expelled from their homeland on the southern shore of the Black Sea, known as the Pontos (in modern day Turkey), between 1914 and 1923. The mission of the Asia Minor and Pontos Hellenic Research Center, a non-for-profit organization, is to promote the collection, preservation, and organization of archival and other materials related to the destruction of Hellenism in Asia Minor and Pontos during the genocide of 1914 and 1923.
During his childhood in Greece, he witnessed his parents’ grief over the loss of their relatives, their nostalgia for their lost homeland and their difficult experience in adjusting to life as refugees in Greece.
"Educating the youth and informing people is an important step in preventing similar events throughout the world which unfortunately are still happening today."
John T. Pawlikowski, OSM, PhD
Father John Pawlikowski is a professor of Social Ethics and Director of the Catholic-Jewish Studies Program at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, a member school of the Hyde Park Cluster of Theological Schools and now in a strategic alliance with DePaul University. He is teaching courses in social ethics and interreligious relations and organizing lectures and conferences on Christian-Jewish relations.
Father John has a life-long involvement with Holocaust Studies. He served four terms on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Council by presidential appointment and continues to serve on its Church Relations and Academic committees.
"The possibility of joining the Commission was brought to my attention by people at the Illinois Holocaust Museum. I hope the Commission will make commemoration of, and education about, Holocaust and Genocide a prominent reality throughout the entire state."
Alsion Pure-Slovin, a native Chicagoan, is the Midwest Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the first female President of the Standard Club. Alison is passionate about her work of defending the human rights of all people.
Formally, she was a non-news producer at NBC-TV, channel 5 in Chicago and later formed her own video production company while raising 4 children. Alison retired from the video world, to become the Midwest Regional Director for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, a position she held for close to 10 years. She left Shaare Zedek to open an office for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a global Jewish human rights organization that confronts anti-Semitism, hate and terrorism, promotes human rights and dignity, stands with Israel, defends the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations. The mission and work of the Simon Wiesenthal Center is important to Alison as she personally experienced anti-Semitism, which has profoundly affected her. Currently she lives in Skokie with her husband Ron of 36 years.
Dr. George W. Reid
George W. Reid is Executive Director, Illinois Board of Higher Education Coordinating Board for higher education institutions in Illinois. George has three children and has raised five nieces and nephews. He is a trained historian and has always been interested in what happened during the Holocaust and wants to work to make sure that this is not repeated ever again in the history of the world.
George would like, "To have a more widespread understanding of the weaknesses of human kind as to why they would allow genocide to occur even though we claim to be the most enlightened people in the history of the world."
Ambassador David Scheffer
Ambassador Scheffer is Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law and Director of the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University School of Law. He teaches International Criminal Law, International Human Rights Law, and Corporate Social Responsibility and directs a center which has many human rights projects underway. He was the Ambassador at Large for war crimes issues during the Clinton Administration and wrote a book about that experience, All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals.
Ambassador Scheffer became involved with Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission because of his long background in the subject area and association with the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. He would like, "A broader understanding among the people of Illinois, particularly those still in school, about both the Holocaust and modern day atrocities and how to prevent them."
Senator Ira I. Silverstein
Sean Tenner is the President of KNI Communications. A native of Naperville, IL and a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, DC, Sean Tenner has over 15 years of issue advocacy and non-profit/foundation consulting experience.
Tenner was appointed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in November 2012 to the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission following years of human rights work. He serves alongside state leaders working to promote education on the Holocaust and other genocides.
Tenner has worked closely with Sudanese refugees in the Chicagoland area since 2007 and helped establish the first office of the Sudanese Community Association of Illinois and pass groundbreaking divestment legislation to fight the genocide in Darfur. He is the Executive Director of the Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation, created by Paul Rusesabagina – the hero of the Rwandan genocide who was portrayed in the acclaimed film Hotel Rwanda. Along with escaped former slaves from the west African nation of Mauritania, he helped create the Abolition Institute, dedicated to helping hundreds of thousands still trapped in descent based slavery. Tenner was inspired to action by reading the CNN expose, Slavery’s Last Stronghold.
Tenner was honored as one of Chicago's "Top 35 Under 35" by the Community Renewal Society for his philanthropic and issue advocacy work.