Date ArticleType
2/3/2020 Member News

The Stories of Youth Activists Making Positive Change in the World

Featuring Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes, Claire Sarnowski, and Gayle Sierens

January 30, 2020 [St. Petersburg, FL] -- The Florida Holocaust Museum (The FHM) is pleased to present a free community conversation The Power of Youth: Activism in Action, with Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes and Claire Sarnowski, on February 8, 2020 at 11:00 a.m. at The Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg. The panel discussion will be moderated by trailblazer Gayle Sierens, Retired Co-Anchor, WFLA News Channel 8.

All attendees will receive a complimentary guest pass to visit The Florida Holocaust Museum. This pass, distributed at the program, will admit attendees to view the Museum's latest exhibition Let Me Be Myself: The Life Story of Anne Frank, which includes a Virtual Reality experience (by appointment only) that allows the visitor to travel back in time to the Frank's hiding place, the "Secret Annex."

Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes is the CEO and Co-founder of the Akilah Institute for Women, the only college for women in Rwanda, and Davis College, a global network of universities offering affordable and market relevant education.

As a high school freshman in Oregon, Claire Sawnowski contacted her state senator to sponsor a bill for mandatory curriculum standards to teach students about the Holocaust and the concept of genocide. The bill became law in June 2019.

Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes and Claire Sarnowski will both be honored with prestigious awards at The FHM's sold-out annual To Life 20/20: A Vision For The Future gala later that evening.

This program is free and open to the public. RSVPs are required via or 727.820.0100 x301. Seating is limited!

Presented by Bank of America, with additional support from St. Petersburg College and Culture Builds Florida.

For additional information, please visit:

About the Honorees

Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes, The FHM's 2020 Loebenberg Humanitarian Award honoree, a Tampa Bay native, is the CEO and Co-founder of The Akilah Institute for Women, a college with campuses in Rwanda and Burundi that connect young women to economic opportunity. Elizabeth learned of the Rwanda genocide while a student at Berkeley Prep in Tampa and upon her 2006 college graduation, she moved to Rwanda. In 2010, Elizabeth and her husband Dave founded The Akilah Institute in Rwanda to provide education and career development to promising young female leaders.

Claire Sarnowski, The FHM's 2020 Legacy Award honoree, met Holocaust Survivor Alter Wiener as a fourth-grade student in the Oregon Public Schools. Alter spoke to her class about surviving five different concentration camps and losing most of his family. Following his presentation, Claire forged a special friendship with Alter, learning of his lifelong dream to implement mandatory curriculum standards for teaching students about the Holocaust and other genocides. Claire, as a high school freshman, reached out to her state senator who sponsored the bill. Because of Claire's advocacy and persistence, the bill became law in June 2019 requiring that all Oregon students receive Holocaust education.

About The Florida Holocaust Museum

One of the largest Holocaust museums in the country, and one of three nationally accredited Holocaust museums, The Florida Holocaust Museum honors the memory of millions of men, women and children who suffered or died in the Holocaust. The FHM is dedicated to teaching members of all races and cultures the inherent worth and dignity of human life in order to prevent future genocides. For additional information, please visit

Photos and credits

Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes

Claire Sarnowski

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