Susan J. Herman Award for Leadership
in Holocaust & Genocide Awareness
Keene State College's Cohen Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies is pleased to announce the establishment of the Susan J. Herman Award for Leadership in Holocaust & Genocide Awareness.
This award honors the work and inspiration of Dr. Susan J. Herman, Professor of Management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Professor Emerita of Management at Keene State College. Dr. Herman has served the College, the Cohen Center and New Hampshire through a lifetime of advocacy, education, curriculum development and leadership training. Dr. Herman's considerable talents helped to motivate College leaders, faculty and community supporters to join in promoting Holocaust and genocide studies, leading many to a greater awareness of how genocide, mass murder and other crimes of atrocity affect us all today.
The Susan J. Herman Award, which will be permanently endowed, will be used to recognize individuals who have, through personal leadership and actions, stimulated greater understanding of genocide, increased activism on behalf of the victims of crimes against humanity or inspired community engagement in educating people about genocide both historically and in our contemporary world. The Herman Award will be presented in two categories each year.
One recognition award will honor a student at Keene State College, accompanied by a monetary award to assist the student with his or her studies.
The second will be awarded to an individual or group who has/have made a difference in Holocaust and genocide awareness through acts of leadership and personal commitment. Preference for the second award will be given to qualified nominees from New Hampshire, but inspirational candidates from around the world will be considered.
The Cohen Center invites anyone who would like to honor Dr. Herman or to support this unique leadership award to make a gift to the endowment. This will help to ensure that both students and community members continue to be recognized for their leadership in making our world a better place for all.
2010 Herman Award Winners
Susan Herman Award winner: Gretchen Steidle Wallace, Cohen Center Director: Hank Knight, Susan Herman Award winners: Marjorie Margolis and Michelle Siegel.
Gretchen Steidle Wallace
Gretchen Steidle Wallace is the founder and President of Global Grassroots, an international non-profit which supports conscious social change driven by and for vulnerable women in post-conflict countries, including Darfur refugees and Rwandan genocide survivors. Gretchen produced the Emmy-nominated documentary film about the Darfur genocide, The Devil Came on Horseback, and co-authored a memoir of the same title. She holds an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and a BA in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. Gretchen is also an integrative breathwork practitioner, an alternative healing modality she uses to help survivors of war, disaster and sexual violence heal from post-traumatic stress. In 2007, Gretchen was honored by World Business Magazine and Shell as one of the top International 35 Women Under 35.
Marjorie Margolis is a high school English teacher from southwestern New Hampshire where she teaches a Holocaust Studies elective. Three years into teaching this course, she learned that she had a relative living in Vilnius who had survived the Holocaust by escaping the Vilna Ghetto and fighting with the Soviet partisans. That relative is Rachel Margolis, cofounder of the Vilna Gaon Jewish Museum and researcher responsible for the publication of Kazimierz Sakowicz’ eye-witness account of the mass executions Jews at Ponary, entitled Ponary Diary 1941-1943: A Bystander's Account of Mass Murder (Yale University Press, 2004).
Susan Herman Award winners Gretchen Steidle Wallace and Marjorie Margolis with Dr. Michael Berenbaum.
In 2006 Marjorie spent a week with Rachel in Vilnius and returned to the US with the project of translating and publishing Rachel’s most recent memoir here. The book had already been published in German, Polish, and Russian; it was now time to bring the story to English readers. Not only does it convey a story of the Jews who fought back, it is the story of life in Jewish Vilna before the war, a world in which this very courageous woman grew up to thrive in the bleakest of circumstances. Rachel’s description of life in the Vilna Ghetto, the organization of the resistance movement, the escape into the forests, and her experience fighting alongside Soviet partisans is revealed through a lens unique to such stories, for Rachel was a woman who insisted on taking full agency for her life.
With the advice and encouragement of Hank, Tom and Paul of the Cohen Center, and a brilliant introduction by the eminent historian, Antony Polonsky, this memoir is now ready for publication in the United States. Unfortunately, it is this book which has stirred the most recent controversy in Vilnius concerning Lithuania’s Holocaust past. A year and a half after its publication in Lithuania , an editorial appeared in the mainstream Lithuanian press, demanding that Holocaust survivor, Fania Brantsovsky, who fought with the Soviet partisans must be questioned about war crimes based on “evidence” found in the memoir of Rachel Margolis. Unwilling to be used as a witness against her friend, Rachel refuses to return to Lithuania in the summer even though it means no longer working at her beloved museum. So now Marjorie Margolis has become Rachel’s advocate on the geo-political stage. A year ago, the Cohen Center hosted an event to honor Rachel for her heroic efforts both during the Holocaust and now.
The publication of Rachel Margolis’ memoir, A Partisan from Vilna, will be available in May 2010.
Read more about Rachel Margolis.
Michelle Sigiel is a senior at Keene State College who plans to graduate in May 2010 with three separate degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Bachelor of Arts in History with a specialization in Europe, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Michelle hopes to continue her studies in Holocaust Studies with a focus on the Polish-Jewish relations during and in the wake of the Holocaust.
During her time at Keene State, Michelle has been actively engaged in making a difference. She has held the position of President, Vice President and Treasurer of Phi Alpha Theta, the History Honors Society, is a founding member and President of Zeta Chi Roe, the Honors Society in Holocaust and Genocide Studies and is the President of the Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Club. It has been in this role that she brought several genocide survivors to campus, including the recent visit by Armenian film maker, Apo Torosyan.
Michelle has been the recipient of a Dean's Scholarship, the F. Burton Nelson Award for Excellence in Holocaust Studies and has presented at the Academic Excellence Conference for the last three years.
Support the Susan J. Herman Award
- after clicking on the link "Begin by clicking here" please follow these steps:
- under the Cohen Center for Holocaust Studies heading, check the box to the right of "List of Holocaust Center Funds and Endowment"
- click the box to the right of "Susan J. Herman Award for Leadership in Holocaust and Genocide Awareness"
- enter your donation amount
- complete the rest of the form.
- Begin by clicking here