TOLI’s First-Ever Leadership Conference Connects and Inspires Holocaust Educators


When the TOLI board decided to go ahead with its first-ever Leadership Conference for Holocaust Educators, it saw a unique opportunity to invest in its alumni. For starters, it wanted to strengthen the support network of Holocaust educators who attended the New York City Summer Seminar over the past decade. But it also wanted to provide them with new resources to refresh their critical work in schools and communities across the country.

The conference, which took place from October 6-9, 2017 in Troy, Michigan, exceeded all expectations. All 83 participating teachers arrived at their own expense, while TOLI underwrote onsite costs. It was particularly meaningful, too, that Corey Harbaugh and John Farris – New York City Summer Seminar alumni and co-leaders of the Michigan satellite seminar – served as the conference’s local hosts.

Teacher response was overwhelmingly positive, the camaraderie inspiring, and the energy palpable. “I loved the atmosphere of love and commitment to a world of justice and equity that radiated from each person,” observed one participant.

The conference also gave teachers an opportunity to connect with and draw inspiration from one another as they explored thought-provoking questions. What can we learn from the choices made by teachers in the past? What is the promise of this moment and how do we fulfill it, individually and collectively? What are our commitments and how can we enact them in our classrooms and communities?

In diverse sessions and panels, teachers found a meaningful venue to answer those questions in the spirit of mutual support. They shared best lessons and practices while gleaning new ideas for their own classrooms. Library faculty offered innovative tools and insights. Participants also had the chance to visit an exhibit about race and housing issues specific to metropolitan Detroit that provided a unique lens on broader issues of social justice.

Educators credited the conference for reinforcing their commitment to TOLI’s vision, inspiring them with “the push to continue this work” and reminding them that “it was up to them to make a difference.”


Teachers participate in a workshop during the Leadership Conference in Detroit, Michigan.


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)