Program Director Dr. Sondra Perl, Winner of the CCCC Exemplar Award

The Olga Lengyel Institute and the Memorial Library are proud to announce that Dr. Sondra Perl, founder and director of the Holocaust Educators Network (HEN), received the Exemplar Award from the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) in 2016.

The CCCC is the world’s largest professional organization for researchers and teachers of composition. It presents the Exemplar Award annually to an individual who models the organization’s highest ideals of scholarship, teaching, and service to the profession on both the national and international levels.

Sondra is an acclaimed teacher of writing, the author of six books, and the recipient of both a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Carnegie Foundation’s Professor of the Year Award, and a professor of English at Lehman College and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York for 45 years. Sondra’s journey to explore the difficult subject of the Holocaust began in 1996 when she accepted an invitation to teach in Austria. She has been engaged ever since in post-Holocaust dialogue here in the United States and in Europe.

Accepting the award in Houston, Texas in April, Sondra offered, “The award has given me a chance to think about what it means to be a teacher and to have been part of a generation of scholars who embraced writing as a way of learning and as a process deeply embedded in our own ways of coming to understand and shape our knowledge.”

It is precisely her faith in this process that prompted Sondra to create the successful inquiry and writing-based New York City Summer Seminar and to launch the Holocaust Educators Network. Today, it continues to inspire her as well as the work of The Olga Lengyel Institute and the Memorial Library.

In closing her acceptance speech, she reflected, “I don’t know a more powerful way to teach students that it is possible to see beyond our differences, beyond what separates us from one another, than in the daily work of making and sharing the meanings that come to us through writing.”


For more information about The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI), please contact

TOLI is located at 58 East 79th Street in Manhattan. (get directions)