BROOKLINE, MA (February 12, 2014) - Facing History and Ourselves last week announced that as part of the organization’s longstanding succession plan, Margot Stern Strom, Executive Director of Facing History and Ourselves, will transition to a new role as President Emerita and Senior Scholar, following the identification and appointment of her successor. Facing History’s Board of Directors has established a search committee and will retain an executive search firm to assist in recruiting the next Executive Director, whose appointment is expected later in 2014.
Once her successor is in place, Strom, in her new capacity, will serve as a Facing History ambassador to educators, donors, academic institutions, and the community at large, and will also focus on research, writing, and special projects. In particular, she will continue to work on the revision of Facing History’s seminal resource, Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior, which explores pivotal events in history to engage teachers and students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism and antisemitism to promote development of the capacity for active responsible citizens in a democratic society.
The revision encompasses both digital and print strategies, embraces groundbreaking use of multimedia assets, and will bring innovative tools, strategies, and ideas to teachers and students. This extension of Facing History’s reach through new technologies and media as well as existing pedagogical practices will further the organization’s goal of ensuring that every rising generation of students continues to link historical events to the moral and ethical choices in their lives.
Facing History and Ourselves approaches its search for the new Executive Director from a position of great strength and optimism. The next Executive Director will lead Facing History's robust growth plan by building on the organization's current standing and excellence to provide even more educators worldwide with Facing History's innovative set of tools and strategies, growing its vibrant and interactive community of professionals, and empowering even more students to engage in responsible participation that can make a positive difference in their present and their future.
Seth Klarman, Chair of the Board of Trustees, noted, “Under Margot Stern Strom’s remarkable leadership, Facing History and Ourselves has grown from a startup to a worldwide organization providing exceptionally high quality materials and programs for the professional development of educators. Since its inception 38 years ago, Margot has developed Facing History from a single course taught in a single classroom into an internationally acclaimed non-profit.
She is a gifted and inspiring leader who recognized the opportunity to use history as a tool for teaching critical thinking to adolescents while developing future leaders. Margot’s brilliant vision has been to empower educators and encourage students to wrestle with complex moments in human history, helping countless young people develop into caring, compassionate and responsible citizens who link the choices they make each day to the difference they can make in their own lives and the lives of others.”
During Strom’s stewardship, Facing History has grown to 180 staff members in ten offices around the globe, with partnerships across North America, South Africa, Northern Ireland, Israel and China, currently reaching an estimated three million secondary school students a year. The organization now has a $24 million yearly budget, and its endowment has quadrupled since 2009 to $19.4 million.
Tracy Palandjian, Co-Chair of the Board of Directors, said, "Facing History's impact on millions of students and teachers over the decades has been profound and multidimensional. Education is not simply about imparting knowledge; it is also about promoting critical thinking and moral development. In a Facing History classroom, students learn to combat prejudice with compassion, and indifference with action."
The Board of Directors will convene a Search Committee, co-chaired by Julie Leff, Co-Chair, Board of Directors, and A.J. Janower, Member, Board of Trustees and will include members of the Board of Directors, Board of Trustees, and staff. The Search Committee will ensure that the process actively seeks input from Facing History board and advisory board members, donors, and educators.
“Thanks to Margot’s inspiration and leadership, Facing History and Ourselves is superbly poised for the future,” said Co-Chair Julie Leff. “Our finances are strong, our support is deep, our pedagogy is highly impactful, and the demand for our materials is enormous. With this long-planned succession now underway, we turn with confidence to the task of identifying a successor who shares Facing History’s passion for its mission, and is deeply committed to advancing the values of our organization and achieving its impact. We intend to identify an individual who is equipped with the skills necessary to institutionalize further our phenomenal success, maintain our commitment to excellence, and provide strong leadership, so that our contribution to education and society around the world will be enduring and ongoing.”
“This is an exciting time for Facing History,” said Strom. “It is also a time for me to express my gratitude and deeply-felt appreciation for the opportunity to work in an organization where I could practice, teach, and learn what it means to develop and sustain the pursuit of a democratic community and culture. I am privileged to work with our boards, scholars, and so many colleagues. Their contributions to Facing History, to millions of students and educators, and to the world have been profoundly valuable, visionary, and bold. I look forward to a successful search for, and appointment of, my successor.”
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