RWI Advisory Board

Meet our Board!

Fall trees surrounding the interurban trail

The Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity is committed to making a positive impact in the state and the world by engaging students in cross- and interdisciplinary undergraduate programs and extra-curricular opportunities. Our mission is to advance knowledge about the Holocaust and genocide, including ethnic and religious conflict as well as attendant human rights abuses. As a community of life-long learners, we share and uphold Western’s community values and the institution’s commitment to equity and justice, and respect for the rights and dignity of others.

Ilana smiling in a grey shirt in front of white background

Ilana Cone Kennedy

Ilana Cone Kennedy is the Chief Operating Officer at the Holocaust Center for Humanity. With 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Ilana is focused on creating and facilitating programs that affect change, offering experiences that engage people of all ages from travel to exhibits, and challenging individuals to consider how their actions, even the small ones, have the power to make a difference.

Ilana is an Alfred Lerner Fellow from the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, a recipient of the Pamela Waechter award for Jewish Communal Service, a Jackson Foundation Leadership Fellow, and has participated in numerous Holocaust education programs nationally and internationally, including those through the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem.

Ilana's educational background includes a BA from the University of British Columbia in Anthropology and Religious Studies, an MA from the University of Connecticut in Jewish Studies, and post-graduate studies at the University of Washington. She also holds graduate certificates from the UW in both Nonprofit Management and Fundraising Management.

Ilana lives in West Seattle with her husband, two teenagers, and Marley, their energetic Boston Terrier.

Mark smiling in glasses and a blue button up - in front of tall, green trees

Mark Greenberg

Mark Greenberg serves as Director of Faculty Global Engagement in the Institute for Global Engagement. In that role he helps lead a range of efforts to grow faculty and staff participation with Western’s internationalization efforts, including Fulbright awards, Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), institutional partnerships, research initiatives, public programming, and faculty and staff exchanges. Prior to joining IGE in September 2022, he served for nine years as Dean of Libraries, where he participated in the establishment of the Wolpow Institute. A graduate of the University of Toronto, Mark also holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Florida and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida.

Laural Ballew

Laural Ballew, Ses yehomia/tsi kuts bat soot, is a citizen of the Swinomish tribe and an alumna of Western Washington University. She joined Western Washington University in January 2019 as the first Executive Director of American Indian/Alaska Native and First Nation Relations and Tribal Liaison to the President. Her position advocates for the support and success of Native students at WWU, and she serves as liaison to the 29 federally recognized tribes across the state of Washington. Her work involves collaboration with existing programs, events and activities designed to educate the campus community and increase capacity to serve Native students. She serves as a consultant on the recruitment and retention of American Indian/Alaska Native, First Nation students and expanding the university’s ability to provide resources to ensure their academic success.

Elizabeth Joffrion

Elizabeth Joffrion is the Director of Archives and Special Collections and associate professor at Western Washington University. In this role, she leads the Libraries’ Special Collections, University Archives and Record Center, and the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies. 

She has also served as a Senior Program Officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Preservation and Access.  She has held professional positions at the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art and National Portrait Gallery, the North Carolina State Archives, and the Historic New Orleans Collection. She has taught graduate courses on archives and special collections at Catholic University and Western Washington University. She has authored articles on community archiving, protocols for Native American archival materials, and the impact of climate change on cultural heritage.  She is the author of “Advancing Preservation for Archives and Libraries,” published by the Society of American Archivists in 2020 and Funding, Sustainability and Cross-Institutional Collaboration,” in Economic Considerations for Libraries Archives and Museums, published by Routledge Press, 2022.  She has been involved with the Ray Wolpow Institute since the early planning phase and has actively acquired rare books, archival materials, and other research resources in support of its curriculum in holocaust and genocide studies.

Bernhard smiling at the camera with a black jacket.

Bernhard Kohlmeier

Living in Washington State, Bernhard Kohlmeier is Cisco System's Program Manager for Responsible Artificial Intelligence. He is passionate about ethics in software and delivering experiences in the digital world, equitable for all users of computers and devices. After building product at Microsoft for 21 years, he decided to make his passion for RAI a full-time profession. Bernhard was born and raised in Munich, Germany. Both of his parents grew up under the Nazi regime and were indoctrinated throughout their entire schooling. Driven by the experience of his daughters as students of Sandra Alfers at Western and his personal experience growing up, paired with a passion for history, has made him together with his wife Lisa Ann an early supporter of the Ray Wolpow Institute. Together, the two of them have provided support for scholarships throughout the years and have been engaged with the institute in many ways.

Dr. Shurla Thibou

Dr. Shurla Thibou, Faculty Director of First-Year Programs, has and continues to serve at Western Washington University for 20 years as an instructor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Human Services, and Adult in Higher Education. Dr. Thibou’s longstanding relationship in higher education is grounded in the need to support first-year, first-generation students of diverse backgrounds whose aspiration is to achieve college completion. The support granted is done by means of advocating a way for students as they navigate through the institution. Embracing others' cultural, national, and other socially minoritized identities is a leading reason to advocate in practice - this is a belief of Dr. Thibou.

Greg smiling in front of a dark grey background in a black suit and red tie.

Greg Baker

Dr. Greg Baker became superintendent of Bellingham Public Schools in July 2010. During his first year, he prioritized partnering with staff, students, families and our community to develop The Bellingham Promise, a living document serving as the district’s strategic plan, a plan that continues to guide the work of our school district every day.

In recognition of his outstanding leadership, Dr. Baker was named the 2020 Washington State Superintendent of the Year by the Washington Association of School Administrators. He was also awarded the 2014 Washington state Crystal Apple Award, in recognition of his commitment to inclusive and transparent communications and The Bellingham Promise.

Prior to leading in Bellingham, he served as a deputy superintendent for Portland Public Schools, as an intern and special assistant to the superintendent of Boston Public Schools and as an administrator for Spokane Public Schools. He began his career in Alaska as a teacher and assistant coach. Dr. Baker earned his doctorate from Harvard University; a master’s degree in administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University; a master’s degree in secondary education from Western Washington University; and a bachelor’s degree with distinction from Gonzaga University. He and his wife live in Bellingham and have three children, who attend or are alumni of Bellingham Public Schools.

Ray Wolpow

Ray Wolpow, Professor Emeritus, Woodring College. As a young boy, I attended services with the older men on Saturday mornings. Numbers tattooed on the forearms of many triggered my curiosity. Tattoos are forbidden amongst Jews, so one morning I asked, “what do these numbers mean?” and was repeatedly told “The Holocaust…You live in America. Get on with enjoying life.” But the pain in their faces told me there was more, much more. Turning to books on the dusty shelves at the public library, I found images of barbed wire, starving men and women, gas chambers, and the bulldozing of bodies into mass graves. Horrified, I asked my father, a historian, to provide context. He told me of the tremendum of the Holocaust and of other genocides but advised me to continue to seek an understanding from the survivors themselves. Decades later, as part of my doctoral dissertation on trauma and learning, I interviewed survivor and award-winning educator Noemi Ban. Trips with her to the remains at Auschwitz, as well as interviews with survivors Fred Fragner and Irving Roth, led to my scholarship in Holocaust/genocide education. When I created the Northwest Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Ethnocide Education, Noemi was the cornerstone. Today that important work has grown and continues to grow under the visionary leadership and dedicated scholarship of the directors of RWI, and I’m honored to support that work, in small part, as a member of this advisory board.

Rabbi Samuels smiling in front of a yellow light and wall wearing a blue shirt and red tie.

Rabbi Joshua Samuels

Rabbi Joshua Samuels has been serving Congregation Beth Israel in Bellingham as its spiritual
leader for 12 years. A native of San Francisco and alum of University of Wisconsin-Madison, Rabbi Samuels lives with his wife Nicole, and two children. When not teaching or leading the Jewish
community in worship, he can be found playing competitive pickleball, walking his dog, or
experimenting new recipes in the kitchen.