Robert J. Williams has a mission: to ensure that the memories of survivors and eyewitnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides have an everlasting home, are shared widely, and will never be forgotten.
Williams will bring a wealth of experience and purpose to his new role as Finci-Viterbi Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education.
Williams most recently served as deputy director of international affairs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, DC, and will take up her new role on October 31. He views the USC Shoah Foundation as one of the pillars of Holocaust research, with its unique mission to build empathy, understanding, and respect through testimonies with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust. and other genocides.
“In order to know where we’re going, we have to know where we came from,” Williams said. “While the voices of our survivors will live on forever, we have reached a point where many will not be in person to share their stories, so it is our responsibility to carry on and learn from the legacy of this story.”
USC President Carol L. Folt said, “Rob is a highly respected leader known for his talent, vision, and compassion. He is exactly the person to ensure that this precious and irreplaceable archive of humanity will be protected and preserved forever. And he will build on his experience at USHMM to ensure that the institute becomes even more accessible and impactful in the world.
The work of the USC Shoah Foundation is more important and more relevant than ever.
Founder of the USC Shoah Foundation
“The work of the USC Shoah Foundation is more important and more relevant than ever – especially given the growing threats to democratic values we see around the world every day,” said USC Shoah Founder Steven Spielberg. Foundation. “I am deeply grateful that Rob is leading our organization and continuing our work to fulfill the sacred responsibility we have to survivors by ensuring their testimonies endure forever.”
Joel Citron, the new Chairman of the Board of the USC Shoah Foundation, looks forward to working with Williams’ global network of thought leaders, heads of nongovernmental organizations, and experts on government issues. He is also fortunate that Williams has extensive knowledge of the USC Shoah Foundation and has worked with the staff before. “I think this provides an opportunity for a fabulous future,” Citron said.
Citron added that he was “impressed and grateful” with how Folt focused on the importance of the USC Shoah Foundation to the university. “The foundation enters this period with not only an ability to integrate and build community within USC, but also outside of the university to an extent that I’m not sure we could have done. before,” he said.
“We are so lucky that Joel is bringing his passion, dedication and leadership towards the Institute. Folt said. “I am grateful to the Acting General Manager, Kori Street, and all the staff who have worked diligently at develop the global reach of this essential resource for current and future generations.
Through her work at the USHMM, Williams had already established a long-standing relationship with the institute, which has more than 55,000 video testimonials preserved in its Visual History Archive – one of the largest digital collections of this guy in the world.
The institute’s trained investigators collected testimonies from 65 countries in 43 languages. Most include an interviewee’s personal life story before, during and after their direct experience of the genocide. Researchers use the testimonials – most of which are around two hours long – to create books, articles, dissertations and multimedia presentations.
Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation: a history student
Williams began his career at USHMM as a researcher in 2008. He has served as a U.S. delegate to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and has also served on the steering committee of the Global Holocaust Distortion Task Force. Holocaust and the Committee on Anti-Semitism and International Holocaust Denial. Alliance of Remembrance. His research specialties include German history, American and Russian foreign policy, propaganda and disinformation, and contemporary anti-Semitism.
The Holocaust is something that has been distorted and misused.
Robert J. WilliamsUSC Holocaust Foundation
“The Holocaust is something that has been twisted and misused,” Williams said. “The reason they are able to distort and use the Holocaust for propaganda purposes is that we on the other side have not done enough work to understand the story and speak to the global public. .”
He thinks that if a better job is done of getting people on the subject and educating them, manipulation and propaganda will have less effect.
“This is a very significant moment in Holocaust history,” Williams said. “You have many of the same challenges we face today, including encroaching totalitarianism, refugee crises, mass atrocity crimes and human rights abuses.”
A personal connection to the archives of the USC Shoah Foundation
Citron, chief executive of Tenth Avenue Holdings, is a former Trojan who has a personal connection to the work of the institute: his parents and an aunt are survivors of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and their interviews are included in the archives. .
“I feel the mission of the foundation is really part of every fiber of my being,” he said. “They are my parents and this is my community. It’s very, very important to me to do the best I can. »
The institute was created in 1994 by filmmaker Spielberg following the production of Schindler’s list, his Oscar-winning film about a German industrialist who saved more than 1,000 Jews during the Holocaust. The institute became part of USC in 2006.
In addition to its global reach, the USC Shoah Foundation plays an important role at the university, hosting regular conferences, events, and programs for students, faculty, and staff. The institute’s Stronger Than Hate initiative engages the entire university community with the goal of promoting inclusivity, connection, and support.
Folt said she is grateful to the search committee for their care and hard work throughout the process and expressed her gratitude to the board of trustees for their exceptional efforts to maintain the important momentum of the institute.
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