Longtime museum executive Sandra Harris has been named as the new Executive Director for the Holocaust Museum & Learning Center (HMLC).
Harris, who will start Jan. 13, 2020, comes aboard as the Museum celebrates its 25th year.
After 30 years away, Harris returned to her hometown of St. Louis in 2017 to serve as Library Director for Maryville University, where she revamped the library’s operations and programs.
Before that, Harris worked as the Executive Director of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, Arizona, and held various positions at the Arizona State Capitol Museum, The Liberace Foundation, The Neon Museum, Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley, and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
Harris has also been an adjunct instructor at Maryville University as well as a guest lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Harris said she is thrilled with the opportunity to lead the Museum into this new chapter of its history.
“Experience has shown me stellar examples of what I believe cultural destinations are meant to be: community-rooted places that foster active learning, shared experiences, and social awareness. The HMLC has demonstrated this in important ways through the years,” Harris said.
Don Hannon, Chief Operating Officer for the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, said Harris was a natural choice for the position.
“Sandra has deep experience working with a wide range of museums and helping them develop to reach new audiences while maintaining their missions. Exactly what we need at this time,” he said.
Bud Rosenbaum, Chair of the Holocaust Museum Executive Committee, said, “Sandra was chosen based on a national search that included interviews with members from the Holocaust Museum volunteer community.”
At the same time, Hannon announced that the current Director, Jean Cavender, will be transitioning into her new role as Director of Community Engagement & Outreach for the Museum.
“With Jean’s experience at the Museum and involvement with the community, Jean will be a great asset as the Museum moves into the future,” he said. Jean and the current HMLC staff will report to Sandra.
Harris will also lead more than 150 volunteers who support the Museum and its service to the community.
Since opening in 1995, the Museum has become a trusted resource in the St. Louis region and beyond. Each year, approximately 30,000 guests visit the HMLC for docent-led tours of the exhibits, to attend the Rosenberg Monthly Film Series and HMLC Memory Project, or for presentations by survivors or subject-matter experts.
The HMLC also has an active civic education program and has trained more than 700 teachers through the Rubin and Gloria Feldman Family Education Institute and more than 3,000 law enforcement officers through a partnership program with the Anti-Defamation League on Law Enforcement and Society program.
The HMLC is one of only 22 Holocaust museums across the U.S. Its mission is to ensure that the horror and lessons of the Holocaust are not forgotten and how what happened in the past relates to current events. While learning Holocaust history is the key to understanding its roots, the HMLC also has a further focus: to empower visitors to make the world a kinder, safer, more tolerant place by rejecting all forms of hate, racism, and bigotry.