AUGUSTA—The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine announces that it has hired Shenna Bellows as their new Executive Director. Founded in 1985, the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine (HHRC) works to promote universal respect for human rights through outreach and education.
Located at the Michael Klahr Center at the University of Maine at Augusta, the HHRC hosts permanent and rotating exhibits highlighting Holocaust history and past and present human rights issues. The HHRC also conducts educational programming and teacher training at the Klahr Center and in schools statewide.
“Our mission to promote universal respect for human rights is more important than ever, and the lessons of the Holocaust provide valuable insights into how we can stand up against human rights violations,” said Nancy Spiegel, President of the Board of Directors of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine. “Shenna Bellows has the experience and the vision to help us build capacity and expand our reach in these important times.”
Bellows is also currently a State Senator representing eleven towns in southern Kennebec County. Bellows has a strong background in civil rights and nonprofit leadership. She led the ACLU of Maine as Executive Director for eight years and served as Interim Executive Director for LearningWorks, an educational nonprofit organization in Portland. Most recently, Bellows owned a nonprofit consulting firm providing services to a range of nonprofit organizations ranging from the Maine Women’s Lobby to the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition. Bellows was a key leader on the successful 2012 marriage equality campaign and co-chaired the successful 2011 statewide ballot campaign to restore same day voter registration. She served a volunteer with the Peace Corps in Panama and AmeriCorps VISTA in Nashville.
“We are living in a time of great challenges for human rights in our country and our world,” said Shenna Bellows, the new Executive Director of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine. “Each of us has a responsibility to confront prejudice and discrimination in our community, and I’m thrilled to be able to work with the HHRC to encourage individuals and communities to act.”
Bellows will be speaking at the Families Standing Together rally in Portland on Saturday, June 30 at 3 pm. The theme connects well with one of the HHRC’s current exhibits, Along the Migrant Trails, an exhibit focusing on the plight of migrants in the Arizona desert. Along the Migrant Trails is a collection of items left in the desert by migrants that were collected by volunteers who scour the desert looking for sick and injured people, while also leaving water and food. Since 2008, the remains of more than 3,000 individuals have also been found in the desert.
The leadership transition also moves David Greenham into the position of Assistant Director. Greenham, who came to the HHRC in 2013, has been working as the program director. He is also an adjunct professor of drama at the University of Maine at Augusta.
The center of the HHRC’s work in Maine focuses on education. During the 2017/2018 more than 5,000 secondary school students and teachers experienced at least one of the HHRC’s eight educational outreach programs. In addition, more than 6,000 visitors came to the Klahr Center for classes, workshops, trainings, or events.
In addition to the exhibit Along the Migrant Trails, which will be on display for one more week, the HHRC hosts several revolving and permanent exhibits. Beau-frog: The Art of Peter Archambault, an exhibition of cartoon drawings, political commentary, Franco-American cultural exploration, and personal discovery will be on display through mid-August.
The HHRC also hosts three ongoing exhibits at the Klahr Center. Those include a short video, Michael’s Story, about Michael Klahr who survived the Holocaust as a hidden child; The Holocaust: Presence of the Past photographs by Judith Glickman Lauder; and the 80-minute multi-media art instillation film Were the House Still Standing: Maine Survivors and Liberators Remember the Holocaust.
An HHRC exhibit created in the fall of 2017, America Now, is scheduled on Friday, July 6th at the Lewis Gallery of the Portland Public Library and run through July 21st. Curated by Bruce Brown, the compelling exhibit features contemporary Maine artists’ responses to the current social and political challenges of our country.
The Michael Klahr Center located on the campus of the University of Maine at Augusta, 46 University Drive. Admission and parking is free. The Klahr Center is open Monday through Friday from 10 am to 4 pm during evenings or weekends by appointment. Those who are interested in educational outreach programs or wishing to view the films are encouraged to call in advance to ensure that the staff assistance and viewing space is available. For more information call (207) 621-3530, or visit hhrcmaine.org.