Welcome Alma!

EIHR is proud to welcome Alma Zero to our staff!

Alma works closely with EIHR Deputy ED Kim Klett on our research and development of programming in Bosnia and Herzegovina, work she continues as our Education Coordinator there. We first met Alma at the EIHR Education Summit in Jahorina in 2015, and she has been a key member of our collaborative team ever since.

Alma, center with sign, at the EIHR Education Summit in Jahorina, 2015

Alma, center with sign, at the EIHR Education Summit in Jahorina, 2015

A little background:

Alma Žero was born and educated in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she earned her M.A. in English Language and Literature at the University of Sarajevo, Faculty of Philosophy. For the past ten years, she has worked as an EFL teacher in several Sarajevo schools and NGOs on communication and creative learning with multi-leveled learners, and participated in various projects on youth engagement, conflict resolution, and human rights education. As of 2017, she is a Museum Teacher Fellow at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and a PhD candidate in the Teacher Education and Education Sciences program at the Faculty of Education in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She currently teaches at the University of Sarajevo, Department of English Language and Literature, and continues to explore her interests in education policy, foreign language teaching, teacher training, and peace education.

We’re lucky to have you with us, Alma!

John Heffernan joins EIHR Board of Directors

The Educators’ Institute for Human Rights Board of Directors officially welcomes Human Rights leader John Heffernan to the Board of Directors. Heffernan brings over thirty years of experience in human rights, humanitarian relief and post-conflict reconstruction projects in the United States, Africa, South America, Asia and Europe to his work with EIHR.

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Board President Andrew Beiter states, “John's name is synonymous around the world with genocide prevention, and we’ll benefit from his wealth of knowledge as we proceed with an exciting new chapter for our organization.”

In 2014, Heffernan became the Executive Director of RFK’s Speak Truth To Power human rights education initiative. Before arriving at RFK Human Rights, Heffernan was the Director of the Genocide Prevention Initiative at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum where he supervised advocacy efforts aimed at responding to genocide today, which included: the opening of a major Museum exhibit, From Memory to Action; the development and implementation of the Museum’s Genocide Prevention Mapping Initiative in partnership with Google Earth, Crisis in Darfur and World is Witness; and the Genocide Prevention Task Force, co-chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen.


As a Senior Investigator with Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) he led three investigations to the Darfur region of Sudan and was the lead author of PHR’s report, Assault on Survival.  He presented the report to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands in February 2006.  In 2002, he conducted a PHR investigation to Afghanistan where he discovered a mass grave which was later the subject of a Newsweek magazine cover story. Previously, he served as the Chief of Party for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in Guyana, South America.  In 1995, Heffernan established and ran as, Executive Director, the Coalition for International Justice, a Washington-based non-governmental organization created to support the work of the international war crimes tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.  

As Country Representative for the former Yugoslavia, he managed a humanitarian relief program for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and from 1990 to 1993 he managed IRC’s refugee resettlement program in Khartoum, Sudan.  Prior to working overseas, Heffernan served as the Vice President of the Business Council for the United Nations in New York City.  Heffernan has written opinion articles for the New York Times, Washington Post, International Herald-Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Diego Union- Tribune and other publications.

Heffernan is a graduate University of California, Santa Barbara and of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.  He is also a former Coro Fellow. He serves as the board chair for Disability Rights International and is on the Advisory Board of the Dodd Center for Human Rights.  He lives in Washington, DC with his wife and three daughters.

Kim Klett becomes EIHR's new Deputy Executive Director!

Kim Klett, right, meets with Alma Zero to plan teacher training in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Kim Klett, right, meets with Alma Zero to plan teacher training in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Educator’s Institute for Human Rights proudly announces Kim Klett’s promotion to Deputy Executive Director. She has served as an International Program Coordinator, supporting our partnerships in Bosnia and Herzegovina and elsewhere, since joining the staff in 2016.

Kim teaches English at Dobson High School in Gilbert, Arizona, where in 2001 she developed a semester-long Literature course focused on the Holocaust as well as other genocides. She became a Museum Teacher Fellow with the USHMM in 2003, and joined the Museum's Regional Education Corps in 2005. Kim became a Carl Wilkens Fellow in 2001, and remains a well-regarded trainer for Echoes and Reflections, a professional development program for teachers of the Holocaust. She sponsors student activism clubs including STAND and ADL's A World of Difference. In her community, Kim has worked with the East Valley Jewish Community Center, serving on many of their education committees, and on the board of the Phoenix Holocaust Survivors' Association.

“We’ve been so lucky to have an educator with Kim’s extensive experience on our staff, and her skill set is perfectly suited to this new role at EIHR,” says Kate English, Executive Director, “Kim’s hard work and professionalism frame all of her endeavors.”

Kim steps in as Jessica Bylo Chacon, previous Deputy Executive Director, requests a return to the general staff with a focus on support for international initiatives. Jessica and her family welcomed a new member recently, and all are enjoying more time together as her responsibilities evolve.


The Educators’ Institute for Human Rights develops partnerships with teachers in countries recovering from conflict to provide training in best practices on human rights, genocide prevention, and Holocaust education. Our goal is that EIHR will help educators and their students worldwide to better understand the history of mass atrocities, including the Holocaust, and apply these lessons to their lives in order to create a more tolerant, educated, and peaceful future.

Teaching About Genocide in Cambodia

Kelly Watson, EIHR, photo courtesy of DC-Cam, October 2016

Kelly Watson, EIHR, photo courtesy of DC-Cam, October 2016

As part of the Sixteenth Commune Teacher Training, held this past October by the Documentation Center of Cambodia, or DC-Cam, participants learned about the history of Democratic Kampuchea and the Cambodian Genocide as well as strategies for engaging their students in the topic.  In the midst of this 5 day immersion, Kelly Watson presented twice.  

According to the final report on the event, "The main goal of the training was to equip teachers with the ability to teach about the history of Democratic Kampuchea (DK), providing them both with knowledge about different aspects of the DK regime and its legacy as well as with teaching methods to pass on that knowledge to their students."

photo courtesy of DC-Cam, October 2016

photo courtesy of DC-Cam, October 2016

The same report summarized Watson's presentations:

"Kelly Watson, Educational Program Coordinator for the Educator‟s Institute for Human Rights (EIHR), gave two presentations during the training. Her first presentation focused on the definition of the Holocaust and how these characteristics are best taught to students. She started by exploring the terms “systematic”, “bureaucratic”, “state-sponsored”, “6 million Jews” and “collaboration” while giving examples of each one. In her second presentation Mrs. Watson displayed photographs of forced evacuations from three different genocides, drawing the participant‟s attention towards comparable patterns among different genocides. But before going into detail, Mrs. Watson-who is a teacher herself- stressed that the comparison of genocides is always difficult since one cannot compare the unique suffering and pain of people. At the same time, there exist parallels within genocides that are comparable, e.g. systematic killing, bureaucratic killing etc. Likewise she cautioned against a teaching of genocide which sets genocide as the only defining feature of a society. Rather, it would be important to include the events that happened before and after the genocide in order to teach about a society in a comprehensive way. When she asked the students if some of the terms would also suit to describe the genocide in Cambodia, many students drew parallels regarding forced evacuations, the bureaucratic killing reflected in the piles of documents such as photographs, forced confessions, and files on everyone who seemed suspicious. Tun Thang Doung, a Khmer literature teacher explained afterwards, she liked the presentation because “it is important for us to learn that it not only happened in Cambodia, but around the world”. "

 
   Kelly Watson, EIHR, photo courtesy of DC-Cam, October 2016   

 

Kelly Watson, EIHR, photo courtesy of DC-Cam, October 2016

 

Kelly Watson, Educational Program Coordinator, accepts invitation from DC-Cam in Cambodia

Kelly Watson considers the USHMM Cambodia exhibit.   July, 2016

Kelly Watson considers the USHMM Cambodia exhibit.

July, 2016

 July 23, 2016 (Washington, DC):  Kelly Watson, who serves as an Educational Program Director for the Educators’ Institute for Human Rights, has accepted an invitation from the Documentation Center in Cambodia (DC-Cam) to present at a training on the History and Guidelines for Teaching about the Holocaust. Ms. Watson travels to Battambang, Cambodia, where she will also observe educational practices designed by DC-Cam for Commune Teacher Trainings on the history of Democratic Kampuchea. 100 Cambodian History teachers will gather for the event from October 10-14, 2016.

According to Youk Chhang, Executive Director of DC-Cam, “The trainings have the dual focus of developing the teachers’ understanding of the history as well as facilitating their capacity in student-centered learning approaches.”

“Kelly’s extensive experience with teacher training in both Holocaust and Contemporary Genocide Education make her an ideal presenter for this event,” observed EIHR’s Executive Director, Kate English.  “She’s an excellent practitioner, and understands the complexities of the content well.”

Ms. Watson is an 8th grade English teacher at Fishers Junior High in Fishers, Indiana. She is a member of the Regional Education Corps for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a Master Teacher with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, and a 2013 participant of the Centropa Summer Academy in Berlin. She has traveled throughout the US and Poland, working with teachers on how to effectively teach about the Holocaust and other genocides. In 2001 she published a collection of testimonies with her students, entitled Indiana Voices of the Holocaust: Teens Talk to Survivors and Liberators, and in 2012 along with colleague Robert Hadley published an online curriculum for the USC Shoah Foundation called If You Survive, Be a Man: Teaching the 1994 Rwandan Genocide of the Tutsis and an Information Quest on the USC Shoah Foundation's IWitness page about survivor Kizito Kalima. 

Educators’ Institute for Human Rights Executive Director Shifts to the Board

June 27, 2016 (Washington, DC):  The Educators’ Institute for Human Rights announces the transition of Co-founder and Executive Director, Mark Gudgel, to the Board of Directors.  Gudgel served as Executive Director for six years, creating and facilitating genocide education conferences in Rwanda and the United States.  

While Gudgel continues his involvement with EIHR as a Board Member, he looks forward to spending more time with his new family, as he and his wife recently celebrated the arrival of their son. Co-founder Drew Beiter currently serves as the Board Chair.  

Gudgel and Beiter conceived of EIHR in 2010 while planning a genocide education teacher workshop at the Kigali Memorial Centre in Rwanda. They started with Holocaust education strategies they learned as Museum Teacher Fellows in the Regional Education Corps of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), who supported the first conference. They shared training and materials with Rwandan teachers to connect the lessons of the Holocaust to the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsis in Rwanda. 

 “More than anything, we gave them a chance to dialogue…to share ideas and converse with one another,” Gudgel explained. “It’s a difficult conversation to have, but it’s important.”  

Beiter credits his Co-founder’s leadership for the NGO’s early success and stability. “Through his incredible communication and organizational skills, Mark’s work ethic and vision allowed us to grow in ways that we couldn't have imagined," he commented.

EIHR’s Board of Directors confirmed Kate English, EIHR’s Deputy Executive Director, as Gudgel’s successor in the role of Executive Director, effective July 1, 2016.  

Gudgel and Beiter invited English, also a USHMM Museum Teacher Fellow in the Regional Education Corps, to join the EIHR staff shortly after its founding. English traveled with Gudgel to Rwanda in 2014, and successfully organized and facilitated the 2015 EIHR Education Summit in Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

An educator for over 15 years, English was named the 2007 district-wide Teacher of the Year for Colchester Public Schools in Connecticut.  She graduated with a Masters degree in Gifted and Talented Education from the University of Connecticut, and recently completed an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Management at Georgetown University. English currently teaches for Alexandria City Public Schools in Virginia. 

Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2016

After last year's successful Education Summit in Jahorina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, returning participants and new invitees will gather again this summer to continue working on the practical logistics of meeting the established goals.  

Preceding the Summit, teachers participating last summer and supporting stake-holders will share lessons, curriculum, and materials to plan for a proposed event in October for Bosnian teachers.  Again, pragmatic action and logistical considerations will drive the agenda.  

Guest speakers for the event include Holocaust survivor and EIHR Board Member Louise Lawrence Israels, who will share her testimony as well as conduct a workshop on writing a memoir, and Valery Perry, who recently published a policy note for the Democratization Policy Council on Education and Extremism. 

RGTA Has New Online Presence

RGTA Leadership in July 2015.  

RGTA Leadership in July 2015.  

The Rwandan Genocide Teachers' Association has a new online presence.  They can be found at their new website, www.rgta.weebly.com as well as at https://www.facebook.com/Rwandan-Genocide-Teachers-Association-1487689331524491/.

Albert Rutikanga, chairman of the RGTA, described the mission of the organization as that of facilitating teachers in learning about genocide studies and human rights in order to heal Rwanda.  He says they are excited to be in contact with others who value and work for human rights around the world.