2015 Speaker Biographies

Laura Brade

Laura Brade is a Ph.D. Candidate in History at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill under the direction of Christopher Browning and Chad Bryant. Her dissertation titled, “Coerced Voluntary Migration: Jewish Flight from the Bohemian Lands, 1938-1941.” She has conducted research in Washington, D.C., the Czech Republic, and Israel thanks to the support of the USHMM Margit Meissner Fund for the Study of the Holocaust in the Czech Lands, the Claims Conference Saul Kagan Fellowship in Advanced Shoah Studies, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure, and Yad Vashem. Her research interests are in Holocaust and genocide studies, migration, refugees, and humanitarian responses to crisis.

Christopher R. Browning

Christopher R. Browning was the Frank Porter Graham Professor of History at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill until his retirement in May 2014. Before taking up this position in the fall of 1999, he taught for 25 years at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.

Browning received his B.A. degree from Oberlin College in 1967 and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1968 and 1975 respectively.  He is the author of eight books: The Final Solution and the German Foreign Office (1978), Fateful Months:  Essays on the Emergence of the Final Solution (1985), Ordinary Men:  Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (1992), The Path to Genocide (1992), Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers (2000), Collected Memories: Holocaust History and Postwar Testimony (2003), and The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942 (2004), and Remembering Survival. Inside a Nazi Slave Labor Camp (2010).  He is also co-editor of Every Day Lasts a Year: A Jewish Family’s Correspondence from Poland (2007).

Browning has served as the J. B. and Maurice Shapiro Senior Scholar (1996) and Ina Levine Senior Scholar (2002-3) at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.  He has been a fellow of the Institutes for Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey, and on the campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  He has also received Fulbright, Alexander von Humboldt, DAAD, and Woodrow Wilson Foundation fellowships.  He has delivered the George Macaulay Trevelyan Lectures at Cambridge University (1999) and the George L. Mosse Lectures at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2002), as well as the lectures of the Bertelsmann Visiting Professorship at Mansfield College, Oxford University (2007). He is a three-time recipient of the Jewish National Book Award—Holocaust Category, for Ordinary Men, The Origins of the Final Solution, and Remembering Survival.  For this last book he is also a recipient of the Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research.  He was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006.

Browning has served as an expert witness in “war crimes” trials in Australia, Canada, and Great Britain.  He has also served as an expert witness in two “Holocaust denial” cases:  the second Zündel trial in Toronto in 1988 and in David Irving’s libel suit against Deborah Libstadt in London in 2000.


I was born and raised in Northern California.  My father’s family and my mother’s family, both from Mexico, emigrated to the U.S. during the Bracero guest worker program.  I am the eldest of four children and the first person in my family to have graduated from college earning a B.A. (cum laude) and an M.A. from California State University, Chico.  I earned my Ph.D. in political science from Washington State University under the supervision of Professor Nicholas P. Lovrich. I am currently an Associate Professor of Political Science at Pacific Lutheran University specializing in American government, public policy, and race and politics. I am the author of the book Everyday Injustice: Latino Professionals and Racism (Rowman and Littlefield, Inc. 2011), which won the prestigious American Political Science Association’s Latino Caucus Best Book Award in Latino Politics published in 2011.  I am also the co-author of a new book Living the Dream—New Immigration Policies and The Experiences of Undocumented Latino Youth. The book investigates the political, civic, and social experiences of undocumented youth post President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.  I am currently working on a new book tentatively titled: Pipeline to the Professions: The Experiences of First Generation Latino Professionals. This book will combine qualitative interviews, auto-ethnography, and policy analysis to explore the public policies and programs, which helped members of the largest ethnic and racial group in the U.S. lacking in inherited intellectual capital earn college degrees and enter the professions.  This research underscores the importance of public policies in keeping the pipeline to the professions open to members of underrepresented communities.  I live in Lacey, Washington with my husband and three young, elementary school-aged children.

Allan Chernoff

Award-winning journalist Allan Chernoff is a former Senior Correspondent for both CNN and CNBC. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Money, and The Forward.

In addition to writing, Allan is Principal of Chernoff Communications, which provides strategic communications services for corporate and not-for-profit organizations.

His book, The Tailors of Tomaszow, co-written with his mother Rena Margulies Chernoff, one of the youngest survivors of the Holocaust, is a communal memoir and history of the survivors of Rena’s hometown, Tomaszow-Mazowiecki, Poland.

Among his honors, Allan Chernoff is a six-time winner of best reporting awards from the Society of Professional Journalists’ New York chapter, Deadline Club. He has won two National Headliner Awards; two New York Festival Awards; and a Prism Award. Allan’s reporting contributed to a CNN DuPont Award and his coverage of the Gulf oil spill, Hurricane Katrina and analysis of economic issues in the 2008 presidential campaign were each part of CNN’s Peabody Award-winning efforts.

Allan is a graduate of Brown University.

Allan Chernoff sits on the board of the Deadline Club of the Society of Professional Journalists, is a member and former officer of the New York Financial Writers Association, a member of the Authors Guild, a reader for EIES of NJ, a volunteer for the Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges, a career advisor for Brown University and has been a featured speaker at various charitable events. Allan served as an interviewer for the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Project.

Elizabeth Heineman is professor in the Department of History and the Department of Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa. There she teaches courses on European and German history, gender and sexuality, and the history of human rights. She is author, most recently, of *Before Porn was Legal: The Erotica Empire of Beate Uhse*(2011), *Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones: From the Ancient World to the Era of Human Rights* (ed, 2011), and the memoir *Ghostbelly*.

Wendy Martinez Hurtado was born in Sinaloa, Mexico and at the age of 7 she moved with her mother, and sister to the United States to be reunited with her father. For the first time she was granted the opportunity to live with both of her parents. While moving to the United States was initially just a temporary stay, Tacoma has become the only home she knew. Since then her journey has been full of twists, failures, and rejection, victories but above all hope and perseverance.

She is passionate about working for and with marginalized communities and low –income youth, community-building, and social justice. Since middle school, she has actively advocated for immigration rights-by facilitating and organizing educational workshops at schools, churches and conferences, volunteering for One America and MoLE, arranging legal assistance for DACA eligible students, and mentoring undocumented students on their journey through higher education. Martinez Hurtado graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in May of 2014 with a double major in Hispanic Studies and Political Science and a double minor in History and Sociology. She currently works at Metropolitan Public Defender in Hillsboro, OR as an Early Case Resolution Legal Assistant. After this year, her future goals include attending law school and becoming an immigration attorney.

Robin Dale Jacobson

*Robin Dale Jacobson* is Associate Professor of Politics and Government at the University of Puget Sound. She has been researching, writing and speaking about the politics of race and immigration for over a decade. She is asked to speak regularly to academic audiences and civic and political organizations on questions about immigration politics and identity and politics. She has published articles and book chapters on immigration and interest groups, race, religion and labor. She is also the author of /The New Nativism/ (University of Minnesota Press 2008) and coeditor of the volume /Faith and Race in American Political Life/ (University of Virginia Press, 2012). Connecting her knowledge on race, immigration, and social movements and her passion for change, Robin is currently chair of Advocates for Immigrants in Detention Northwest (A.I.D. NW), an organization providing services to individuals in one of the nation’s largest detention facilities and conducting advocacy on issues of immigration detention. Robin lives with her partner and three children in Tacoma.


I was born in Puebla, Mexico. In 2001, my mother, brother and I immigrated to the United States to be reunited with my father whom had immigrated to Oregon a year earlier to find a better job and provide a better future for my brother and I. At that time, I thought we were on “vacation” and we would return to our family in a matter of days, little did I know that our journey was about to change the direction of our lives forever. Our odyssey to the U.S. began after a long and frightening month out in the border and more than a dozen arrests by the United States Border Patrol. Although our stay was meant to be temporary, we have been residing in the United States for more than 15 years. Through many years of obstacles and hard work I have been able to navigate an unfair system that dictates an innumerable quantity of injustices for those, who like me, that have no choice but to embrace them and do their best despite it all.

I graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in May 2014 with a Hispanic Studies major and a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. As of now, I volunteer as a member of the Community Advisory Board with the Forest Grove School-Based Health Center and am a member of the Forest Grove Police Department’s Citizens Academy. I work as a freelance Spanish Translator as well as a teller at U.S. Bank. This summer I will be returning to school to earn a degree in paralegal studies and work at an immigration law firm. I reside in Forest Grove, Oregon with my one year old son, Santiago.

Bruce Kadden

Bruce Kadden is rabbi of Temple Beth El in Tacoma.  He teaches the Judaism class in the Religion Department at PLU and is part of the core faculty for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and on this year’s conference committee.

Ilana Cone Kennedy

Ilana Cone Kennedy is the Director of Education at the Holocaust Center for Humanity in Seattle. For the past 11 years Ilana has worked with teachers throughout the region to provide and develop teacher trainings, community programs, and classroom resources on the Holocaust and genocide. Ilana received her B.A. from the University of British Columbia and an M.A. in Jewish Studies and Comparative Religion at the University of Connecticut. Ilana is a recipient of the Pamela Waechter award for Jewish Communal Service, an Alfred Lerner Fellow from the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, and has participated in numerous Holocaust education programs nationally and internationally, including those through the USHMM and Yad Vashem. Ilana has helped to plan and lead international Holocaust study trips and is currently working on planning another for 2015 to Poland and Israel. Ilana lives in West Seattle and is the proud mom of two kids, ages 6 and 8.

Jennifer Marlow

Jennifer Marlow is an assistant professor of European history at Bethel University. She recently received her Ph.D. in East Central European history from Michigan State University. Her dissertation is entitled Polish Catholic Maids and Nannies: Female Aid and the Domestic Realm in Nazi-Occupied Poland. Jennifer’s research interests include Holocaust history, Polish-Jewish relations, and the history of modern Poland. She has published book reviews in Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History as well as in The Polish Review and has presented her research at numerous conferences. Jennifer has been the recipient of several fellowships including a Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship (Polish), an American Council of Learned Societies Eastern European Studies Dissertation Research Fellowship, a Savitt Visiting Scholar Fellowship from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and a Saul Kagan Claims Conference Academic Fellowship.

Liz Perle

Liz Perle worked in publishing in New York for 20 years where she held many executive positions. She was vice president and publisher of several of the nation’s most prestigious publishing houses, including William Morrow/Avon Books, Addison-Wesley, and Prentice Hall Press (Simon & Schuster), as well as associate publisher of Bantam Books. In addition to her experience editing and marketing books, Liz is also an author, most recently of the bestselling Money, A Memoir: Women, Emotions, and Cash, as well as the critically acclaimed When Work Doesn’t Work Anymore: Women, Work, and Identity. In 2002, Liz co-founded Common Sense Media with Jim Steyer.  Common Sense is dedicated to helping children thrive in a world of media and technology.  Common Sense’s mission is to empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all children’s lives.

Steven Pressman

Steven Pressman was born and raised in Los Angeles and received an undergraduate degree in political science at the University of California at Berkeley. He worked for many years as a newspaper and magazine journalist in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.
He is the writer, director and producer of 50 Children: The Rescue Mission of Mr. and Mrs. Kraus, a documentary film that premiered on HBO in April 2013 and was nominated for an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Historical Programming. Along with its television broadcasts, the film has been shown at film festivals, synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, embassies and other venues throughout the United States and abroad.

Steve is also the author of 50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple’s Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany (published by HarperCollins in April 2014).
Steven and his wife, Liz Perle, have two grown children and live in San Francisco.

Patricia Heberer Rice

Patricia Heberer Rice has served as an historian with the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington since 1994. There she serves as a Museum specialist on medical crimes and eugenics policies in Nazi Germany. Dr. Heberer earned her baccalaureate and masters degrees from Southern Illinois University; she pursued doctoral studies at the Free University of Berlin and the University of Maryland, receiving her Ph.D. from the latter institution.  In addition to contributions to several USHMM publications, she has recently authored a source edition, Children during the Holocaust, a volume in the Center’s series, Documenting Life and Destruction, appearing in 2011. A further publication, Atrocities on Trial: The Politics of Prosecuting War Crimes in Historical Perspective, co-edited with Juergen Matthäus, appeared in 2008 with the University of Nebraska Press.

Paul Shapiro

Paul Shapiro is the Director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Since 1997 he has led the Museum’s effort to provide focused leadership to the field of Holocaust Studies in the US and abroad.

Before joining the Museum, Mr. Shapiro served in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the United States Information Agency and Department of State, where he was responsible for the Fulbright Fellowship Program and other major international exchange programs.  Earlier, he was an Editor of the journal Problems of Communism and Editor in Chief of the Journal of International Affairs.  Mr. Shapiro served as a consultant to the Justice Department and performed the historical research that led to the denaturalization and deportation of Viorel Trifa, the Romanian Archbishop of the United States.

In 2003-4 he wrote major sections of the final report of the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania, chaired by Elie Wiesel.

Mr. Shapiro holds degrees from Harvard and Columbia University. He is the recipient of the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (2010) and the Order of Merit-Commander Class of the Republic of Romania (2009).

Kurt Steinbrecher

Kurt Steinbrecher, represented at the conference by his son, Loren, was one of the “50 Children” rescued by Elinor and Gilbert Kraus, is represented at the 2015 Powell-Heller Conference by his son, Loren Steinbrecher.  Kurt Steinbrecher was born in Vienna in 1928.  After his journey to the U.S. with the Krauses and time with relatives in New York, Kurt moved to Seattle to rejoin his parents, who had escaped from Austria through Germany, the Soviet Union, Japan, and Canada.  Kurt served in the U.S. army during the Korean War and earned a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Washington, after which he worked for over 30 years with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Bothell, Washington.  Kurt lives today in Seattle, with health problems that now prevent him from telling his own story, but you can learn much more about Kurt Steinbrecher’s life and see pictures of Kurt as child by clicking here.

Fran Sterling

Fran Sterling has been an educator at the middle school, high school and university level for over twenty-five years in California and Colorado.  In 2001 Fran joined the international non-profit Facing History and Ourselves based in Boston, Massachusetts.  Facing History is an international educational and professional development organization whose mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.  By studying the historical development of the Holocaust and other examples of genocide, students make the essential connection between history and the moral choices they confront in their own lives.

Over the years she has served as the Director of the Denver and Rocky Mountain States Office and as Senior Program Associate in San Francisco for Facing History. Currently holds the position of Senior Associate for Research and Development for the national organization.

Fran has authored many educational materials for Facing History over the years.  Her most recent resource book and website project, The Nanjing Atrocities:  Crimes of War, examines war crimes that occurred in China during World War II.  Her current projects for Facing History involve developing online educator materials for the forthcoming ebook edition of Salvaged Pages:  Young Writers’ Diaries from the Holocaust as well as a new resource examining adolescent voices from war and genocide including Elie Wiesel’s text Night.  

Fran received her B.A. in Politics from Mount Holyoke College, her M.A. in Education from the University of Colorado, Boulder, her Ph.D. work in History and Cultural Studies from Claremont Graduate School and a diploma in Hebrew and Jewish Studies from Oxford University.  Today Fran lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and three joyful children.

Norma Linda Ureña

Norma Linda Ureña is a sole practitioner in Seattle.  She dedicates her practice to family law.  She is originally from Idaho where her family worked as farmworkers.  She graduated from Seattle University with a BA in Political Science emphasis on the Middle East.

She graduated from University of Washington’s School of Law.  She worked with legal services with Idaho Legal Aid; Northwest Justice Project and Columbia Legal Services prior to starting her own practice in 2002.  She is active in the WSBA, and has served on the WSBA’s Task Force on Enforcement of Lawyer Conduct; was past chair of the Judicial Recommendation Committee, and past member of the Fee Arbitration Committee, Editorial Advisory Committee and Disciplinary Committee.  She also served as president of the Latino Bar Association of Washington.  She was appointed as legal advisor for the Mexican Consulate in 2005.

Currently, she is a member of Family Law Executive Committee (FLEC) and serves as an Adjunct Hearing Officer on disciplinary matters.  She also serves on the board of Jackson Street Music Project a non profit that teaches inner city youth the skills of working in the music industry.

As an attorney she has been recognized as the pro bono attorney of the year by the King County Bar Association in 2009 a rare honor for sole practitioners.

Ela Stein Weissberger

Ela Stein Weissberger is one of a hundred children imprisoned in Terezin, a Nazi prison camp, who survived World War II.  She was born in Czechoslovakia on June 30, 1930 to Max and Marketa Stein.  In 1939, her childhood became very different from that of her contemporaries.  Czechoslovakia was occupied by the Nazis and according to their antisemitic Nuremberg laws, all Jewish children were expelled from school.  Ela left the fourth grade and was only allowed to study in semi-legal courses organized for Jewish children. Soon thereafter, all Jews in Prague had to wear a yellow star of David and abide by an eight o’clock curfew. Those were just some of the increasing senseless anti-Jewish orders that affected day to day life.

On February 12, 1942 Ela, her sister Ilona, and her mother were deported to Terezin.  Her father had already died of unknown causes.  Her grandmother and uncle, Dr. Otto Altenstein, were also deported to Terezin, where they spent three and half years.  In July of 1942, Ela was separated from her family and moved to the Girls Home L410. Room 28 is where she stayed with girls her own age. She worked in the gardens called Landwirtshaft. The Germans allowed children to play, paint with Bauhaus artist Friedl Dicker Brandeis (imprisoned in Terezin), and sing Hans Krasa’s children’s opera “BRUNDIBAR” This saved the children in many ways. Ela played the part of the cat in 55 performances. This opera was used in a Nazi propaganda film intended to convey the false impression that life in Terezin was safe and pleasant.

Approximately 150,000 people were held at some point in Terezin, and most were then transported to Treblinka and Auschwitz, where they died.  The last transport from Terezin was on October 28, 1944. At last it looked like freedom was coming, and on May 5, 1945, the survivors at Terezin were liberated.  Many had died in Terezin before this day and many more had been transported to other Nazi camps and murdered.

After liberation, Ela attended Art School in Prague and then the family emigrated to Israel.  Ela became a sergeant in the Israeli Army, where she met and married Leopold Weissberger. Ten years later they moved to New York City.  Mrs. Weissberger, mother of two, David and Tamar, currently resides in Tappan, New York, where she has worked as an interior designer. She is dedicated to travel across the United States and abroad, to tell her story and to honor the memory of victims of the Holocaust.

Lauren E. Whitham

Lauren E. Whitham, conductor, is serving as a Visiting Instructor of Music at PLU, during Brian Galante’s sabbatical leave.  She conducts the University Chorale and University Singers, and teaches undergraduate courses in choral music education. Ms. Whitham earned her Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Western Washington University with Dr. Leslie Guelker-Cone, and her Bachelor of Music Education degree, from Pacific Lutheran University with Dr. Richard Nance. Under her direction, Ms. Whitham’s choirs have performed at WMEA Conferences in 2010 (Spanaway Junior High Men’s Concert Choir), and 2014 (Pioneer Middle School Young Women’s Choir). As an active member of both NAfME and ACDA, Ms. Whitham is frequently invited to present conference interest sessions titled “Creative Classroom Management: Stop Disciplining and Start Teaching” and “Music Literacy: Finding the Key to Independent Learning in the Choral Classroom.” In addition to her K-12 work in the public schools, Ms. Whitham taught undergraduate courses in aural skills and keyboarding at Western Washington University and conducted the University Men’s Chorus, University Women’s Chorus, and WWU’s premier choral group, Western Voices.