Throughout the years, Nancy Powell had been invited to many Raphael Lemkin Lectures at PLU. The scholars who spoke at the Lemkin Lectures were inspiring and students wanted to hear more. Nancy was impressed by the students’ work, their passion and commitment to further study, and the professors and their work in the field. She recognized that the university was uniquely positioned to do more. Inspired by the life work of her father, Nancy, with the help of her sister Carol Heller and her husband, Harry Heller; Kurt Mayer and his family; many donors from PLU; the Tacoma Jewish community; and surrounding businesses and community members, raised money to build the endowed Kurt Mayer Chair of Holocaust Studies and the yearly Powell-Heller Holocaust Education Conference.
In 2014, her support helped PLU as it initiated a new minor in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the first offered in the Pacific Northwest. Growth continues as PLU alumni and Conference participants carry forward the process of inspiring others to learn from the Holocaust and work against violence and discrimination in every corner of the world.
The Powell-Heller Holocaust Education Conference is now in its ninth year, and Nancy Powell continues to work closely with others to plan and host each year’s events. As she puts it, “our family is thrilled that so many teachers, students and community members come together to learn, and we hope they will come back every year.”