2012 Holocaust Conference: Biographies
Robert P. Ericksen, Kurt Mayer Chair of Holocaust Studies at PLU, is the author of Theologians under Hitler: Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus and Emanuel Hirsch (Yale, 1985) as well as the recent Complicity in the Holocaust: Churches and Universities in Nazi Germany (Cambridge, 2012). He has also edited three books and written numerous articles on churches and universities in Germany. He is a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, he sits on the Board of Editors of a German journal, Kirchliche Zeitgeschicte, and he is the newly appointed Chair of the Church Relations Committee at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In October 2007, Professor Ericksen was named Kurt Mayer Professor of Holocaust Studies, a position later elevated to chair.
During President Loren J. Anderson’s 20 year tenure at Pacific Lutheran University, three pathways to distinction have set the course for strengthening the university’s academic program: global education, student-faculty research, and helping students discern meaning and purpose in their lives. President Anderson’s philanthropic expertise has been a significant factor in the university’s success. Three major fund-raising campaigns have helped upgrade campus facilities and infrastructure and helped build the university’s endowment and fiscal strength. President Anderson holds a doctorate in communication theory and research from the University of Michigan. His career has been dedicated to service in Lutheran higher education.
Peter Hayes: (PhD Yale, 1982), the Theodore Zev Weiss Holocaust Educational Foundation Professor, specializes in the history of Germany in the 20th century, particularly the Nazi period. He is the author or editor of ten books, including the prize winners Industry and Ideology: IG Farben in the Nazi Era and Lessons and Legacies I: The Meaning of the Holocaust in a Changing World, and most recently The Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies (ed. with John K. Roth) and Das Amt und die Vergangenheit: Deutsche Diplomaten im Dritten Reich und in der Bundesrepublik (with Eckart Conze, Norbert Frei, and Moshen Zimmermann). He is currently working on an anthology-history of the Holocaust, a study of German big business and the persecution of the Jews, and a manuscript on German elites and National Socialism.
George Elbaum was only a year old when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939. Within weeks, Elbaum's father was called into the army and never returned. Over the next three years, he and his mother would become the only surviving members of his extended family living in Poland. Elbaum's mother dyed her hair blonde and purchased identity documents of a Catholic woman who had died. In 1942, she smuggled Elbaum out of the Warsaw Ghetto. She then paid various Polish Catholic families to hide her son and raise him with their own children. This life went on for three years until the war ended in 1945. The pair finally arrived in the U.S. in 1949. Elbaum didn't speak of his story, however, for 60 years.
Kurt Mayer Tacoma businessman, philanthropist and community leader, has written a rags to riches story of his life and times. “My Personal Brush with History,” written with Joe Peterson, is a story of hardship, opportunity, triumphs, mistakes, family and faith. “My book is intended to give my grandchildren – ages 14, 13 and 10 – an opportunity to read, later in life, about what many believe has been an incredible journey,” said Mayer, a PLU Regent from 1995 to 2005. Mayer was instrumental in the development of the university’s Holocaust Studies Program.
Nancy Powell and her extended family have been been committed to promoting education for youth for generations. Her parents set an example by being philanthropic in all areas of their lives that involved education. Following in their footsteps it has become her passion to help educate the youth of today. She became inspired to support the Holocaust Studies program at PLU when she heard students speak about what they had learned and how they wanted to further their education and make the world better for future generations. She joined with her sister Carol and her husband Harry Heller to develop a conference for Holocaust/Genocide education. The Powell and Heller families proclaim that they have grown from this conference and are pleased to know it will continue to educate students and the community for generations to come. Nancy is the owner of a real estate development business in Gig Harbor and is proud to be a Regent at PLU. Her husband Paul Kirschner is a big supporter in all all of her endeavors as is her son Adam and daughter Jacqueline.
Judith Kay is a professor of ethics and religion at the University of Puget Sound. She will be leading the discussion on churches and universities in Nazi Germany. Kay received her bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College, her master’s degree from the Pacific School of Religion and her Ph.D. from Graduate Theological Union.
Victoria Barnett is staff director of church relations for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. She is a graduate of Indiana University and Union Theological Seminary, New York (M. Div.). She is the author of For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest against Hitler (Oxford University Press, 1992) and Bystanders: Conscience and Complicity during the Holocaust (Greenwood Press, 1999), and editor/translator of Wolfgang Gerlach’s And the Witnesses were Silent: the Confessing Church and the Jews (University of Nebraska Press, 2000) and Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (Fortress Press, 2000), as well as numerous articles and book chapters on the churches during the Holocaust. She is also coeditor of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works project, the English translation series of Bonhoeffer’s complete works. She is also completing a doctorate in religion and conflict at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University
Mark Ruff is a professor of history at St. Louis University. His current projects center largely on 20th century Germany and the locations of religion in politics and society. He is concluding more than two years of research on a monograph, The Battle for the Catholic Past in Germany, 1945 - 1975. In this work, he works to historicize the debates that have raged since the Nazi years over the Roman Catholic Church's relationship to National Socialism.
Heather Mathews joined the Art Department in 2007. She earned her BA in Art History and German from Hood College and her Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin. Her specialization is the German art of the Cold War period, and she is interested in all aspects of German culture and history, especially issues of national identity and memory. Since the initiation of PLU’s BA in art history in 2008, Mathews' teaching has focused on modern and contemporary art in Europe and the United States. This has included topical classes that extend beyond the Department of Art and Design, such as a seminar in Gender issues cross-listed with the Women’s and Gender Studies program and a course in Art and Society for the International Honors Program.
Illana Cone Kennedy is the Director of Education for the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center. For almost 9 years, Ilana has worked with students, teachers, and the community of the Pacific Northwest to develop resources and teacher training to support Holocaust education. Ilana holds a Masters degree from the University of Connecticut, and a BA from the University of British Columbia. Ilana has attended numerous conferences on Holocaust and genocide education including those offered by the USHMM and the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous. Ilana has helped to plan and lead Holocaust study trips to Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Currently in the works is a trip in the summer 2012 to Rwanda. After growing up in the Seattle area, her love of travel and learning continues to take her around the globe.
Kelly Wheeler has been teaching in the Bethel School District for 17 years. Two years ago, she was selected as the Bethel School District’s Teacher of the Year for her work in and outside of the classroom. Within the school district, she has taught all levels of Communication Arts from 7th-11th grade and German. As a part of required reading in the district, she got involved in Holocaust study, an interest that increased when she made a serendipitous trip to the Pinkas Synagogue while chaperoning the Tahoma Girls Choir. Since then, and with the help of the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center, she has taught about the Holocaust with passion. She was a guest presenter at the annual luncheon of WSHERC describing the passion for the Holocaust and her activities she does with her students to prevent hatred from spreading.
Branda Anderson has been teaching high school world history for nine years at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo. She holds a bachelors degree from Southern Illinois University and a Masters in Teaching from the University of Washington. Branda spent July of 2011 studying with the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teachers’ Program in Washington DC, Isreal, Germany and Poland.
Nicholas Coddington teaches 20th Century World History and Honors US Government at Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, Washington. Prior to his teaching career, Nick served as an officer in the U.S. Army working with humanitarian operations in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and South East Asia. As a teacher at Charles Wright, Nick has created a multi-national exchange program centered on human rights with schools in China, Poland, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. His unique and dynamic teaching curriculum has earned him the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous Teacher of the Year Award, the Spirit of Anne Frank Award, and the Facing History and Ourselves Teaching Award in the past few years. Coddington graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and holds three masters degrees from the National Defense Intelligence College, St. Martin’s College, and the University of Illinois.