HHRC News: Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross is the 2020 Recipient of HHRC’s Gerda Haas Award

http://fairchanceproject.com/archive great site Augusta –  The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine is pleased to announce that Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross is the 2020 winner of the Gerda Haas Award for Excellence in Human Rights and Leadership.  The award, named for Holocaust survivor and founder of the HHRC, Gerda Haas, recognizes significant achievement as a human rights leader or educator.  

courteously “Rep. Talbot Ross has been a trailblazer for human rights, leading significant reforms in the Maine Legislature over the last four years,” said Shenna Bellows, HHRC Executive Director.   “She is a powerful voice for people who are marginalized and under-served, and she has made Maine a safer and more just place for all.”

Kattaqo’rg’on First elected to the Maine Legislature in 2016, Rep. Talbot Ross has shaped critical conversations about equity in the areas of criminal justice, education, health and human services and housing. Rep. Talbot Ross sponsored successful legislation to create Maine’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Racial, Indigenous and Maine Tribal Populations and secured passage of a landmark bill expanding tribal authority over domestic violence against women. Prior to her time in the Legislature, she led the NAACP in Maine through the Portland branch and one located in the Maine State Prison. She has founded several nonprofit organizations, including Maine Black Community Development, Inc., Maine Freedom Trails, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellows program.  She chaired the Maine State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for several years, and serves on several boards that advance civil and human rights.

“The urgency of now demands that we confront the hard truths of our shared history,” said Rep. Talbot Ross. “I am humbled and honored to carry forth Gerda Haas’ legacy of human rights education and leadership.”

Rep. Talbot Ross will receive the Gerda Haas Award at the online virtual annual meeting of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, which will start at 7 pm on December 9.  Tickets are free and available online at www.hhrcmaine.org.

Previous award winners include Richard Blanco, Christopher Myers Asch, Pious Ali, ILAP, Tim Wilson and the late Betsy Parsons.

Gerda Haas, a founder of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, has inspired many with her passion for human rights education. A Holocaust survivor originally from Germany, Gerda worked for many years as the librarian at Bates College. In the late 1970s, Governor Longley appointed Gerda to the State School Board of Education. While serving on the board, she learned that students weren’t being taught about the Holocaust in Maine schools. Gerda not only identified a critical educational void, she took action to rectify it. The Holocaust and Human Rights Center welcomes the opportunity to annually recognize and honor individuals who, like Gerda Haas, have demonstrated excellence and initiative in human rights education and leadership.




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