Griffs Under 40: Kelley (Hayes) Szany '99

July 18, 2017

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Buffalo, NY - Three quarters of a century after the Holocaust, extraordinary stories of survivors and previously unknown heroes continue to emerge. The responsibility to share the stories of these brave men and women falls to Kelley H. Szany.

Szany is nationally recognized as a leading Holocaust and contemporary genocide educator. Headquartered at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center (IHMEC) in Skokie, IL, the director of education develops and oversees the museum’s public programming for educators, students, civic and business leaders and the broader community.

Szany travels the globe speaking to audiences not only about the Holocaust but genocides in Armenia, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur.  Her objective, she says, is always to “engage in the influence of social change.”

Motivated by the courage and resilience of Holocaust survivors, Szany helped to develop IHMEC’s speaker bureau into the largest of its kind in the United States.  As a recipient of a Carl Wilkens Fellowship, Szany worked with national leaders to create a permanent anti-genocide constituency in Illinois.  She successfully lobbied on Capitol Hill to bring attention to the atrocities in Syria and to aid in the massive refugee crisis.

Throughout her tenure, Szany helped to influence U.S. policy.  She effectively petitioned lawmakers for the continued support and funding of the Genocide Atrocities and Prevention Board, an interagency committee established to assess and prevent the long-term risks of genocide.

Szany was similarly successful in securing the continued support of the renewal of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which enables the executive branch to more easily impose visa bans and target sanctions on individuals responsible for committing human rights violations.