Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center - Susan L. Abrams

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Company: Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, Skokie, IL
Entry Submitted By: Creative Marketing Associates
Company Description: Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, the world’s third largest Holocaust museum, is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust by honoring the memories of those who were lost, teaching universal lessons that combat hatred, prejudice and indifference. It fulfills its mission with innovative programs and cutting-edge technology to promote social justice for future generations.
Nomination Category: Individual Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Female Innovator of the Year – Government or Non-Profit –11 to 2,500 Employees

Nomination Title: Susan L. Abrams, CEO

Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated woman since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words):

As CEO of Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center—the world’s third largest Holocaust museum—Susan Abrams promotes the power of teaching the lessons of the Holocaust to inspire positive change in the world. The Museum’s message of human rights, justice, and action reaches over 150,000 individuals every year and has never been so timely. To fuel this mission, Abrams has galvanized philanthropic support for a $30M campaign to fund groundbreaking technology to preserve Survivors’ stories and to secure the financial and programmatic future for the Museum’s next phase of growth.

Abrams joined the Museum as CEO in 2014, as the Museum was celebrating its fifth anniversary. Her arrival came at a time of pivotal transition. Founded with the support of local Holocaust Survivors, the Museum faces the inevitable loss of its most cherished resource – the local Survivor community that shares their powerful experiences daily with visitors of all ages. There is an urgent race against time to preserve their stories in the most engaging, impactful way possible.

Under Abrams’s leadership, the Museum partnered with the USC Shoah Foundation to pioneer a state-of-the-art story-telling experience, using high definition imagery with natural voice recognition technology to allow visitors to interact with a three-dimensional projection of a Survivor in a strikingly lifelike way. The Museum is the first in the world to feature this technology. It will eventually be presented in a Survivor Stories Theater, the cornerstone of the Museum’s Take A Stand Center, a breakthrough initiative that inspires guests to become “Upstanders” in support of social justice, including a Take A Stand Lab that empowers guests with opportunities to write to public officials, submit editorial comments, and volunteer for causes even before they leave the building,

To support these vibrant programs (without federal funding), Abrams has broadened the Museum’s outreach. The $30M Commit to the Future Campaign raised $20M in its 18-month private phase, and launched its public phase in March 2016. The Annual Humanitarian Awards Dinner in March 2016 welcomed over 1,800 civic and community leaders, raising a record $3M for the Museum’s annual operating budget. Abrams also initiated a new Corporate Partnership Program and activated a Young Professional Committee to build a broader base of leadership for the Museum’s future.

Illinois Holocaust Museum is far more than a memorial, and reaches beyond the scope of Holocaust and World War II history. The Museum’s world-class rotating exhibitions offer new perspectives on contemporary issues such as race, refugees, ethics, and culture.

Under Abrams’s leadership, the Museum has doubled its programming from 2014-2015. Feature films, live performances, guest lectures, and panel discussions with scholars, artists, authors, and public leaders open meaningful dialogue on issues of social justice, human rights, and how to effect change locally and globally.

Susan Abrams’s leadership has transformed Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center into a hub of social action and community responsibility. She combines vision, determination, and creativity to inspire future generations to “Take history to heart. Take a stand for humanity.”

Provide a brief biography of the nominated woman (up to 125 words):

Susan L. Abrams seized the reins as CEO of Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in April 2014, with more than 25 years of nonprofit, museum, business building, and financial management experience. She previously served as COO for JCC Chicago, where she oversaw the $34 million organization’s businesses executed at over 30 Chicagoland locations. She also held leadership positions at Northwestern University and Chicago Children’s Museum, in addition to consulting roles with McKinsey & Company and Goldman Sachs.

Ms. Abrams holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of “The New Success Rules for Women: 10 Surefire Strategies for Reaching Your Career Goals” (Random House, 2000).