The Tianaderrah Foundation
2009 Outstanding Citizen Award

 

Ellen J. KennedyDr. Ellen Kennedy grew up in Ishpeming, Michigan, daughter of Dr. Archie and Betty Narotzky. She graduated from Ishpeming High School and the University of Michigan. She earned Masters’ degrees in English and in education from Northern Michigan University and a Master’s degree in sociology from the University of Minnesota. She holds two doctorate degrees from the University of Minnesota, one in marketing and the other in sociology.

Kennedy taught at the College of St. Catherine and at the University of St. Thomas, both in St. Paul, Minnesota, for nearly thirty years. At the University of St. Thomas, where she was a full professor, Kennedy directed the honors program. For nearly a decade she also directed the service-learning program, for which she won a national award in 2004 as “Higher Education Leader of the Year.” She has published nearly 45 articles and chapters in scholarly journals and has received “best paper” awards for several of her articles. She has been designated as a Fulbright Senior Scholar and is the recipient of numerous grants for research and programming.

Kennedy has taught at a number of overseas universities in locations including Australia; Ukraine; China; India; England; and Poland.

Kennedy is currently the Interim Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota. In that capacity she designs, directs, and implements educational programs and events throughout the state to raise awareness about genocide and to promote anti-genocide activism.

Kennedy is the founder and director of the Genocide Intervention Network-Minnesota, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a permanent citizen constituency to prevent and stop genocide. The organization has won state and regional awards for its outreach, advocacy, and commitment to human rights and social justice. She received the Tom Oye Human Rights Award from the Edina Human Rights and Relations Commission in 2007 and she is the 2009 recipient of the “Outstanding Citizen” award from the Anne Frank Center, New York.

Kennedy has done the following:

  • She has been involved in leading divestment from companies complicit in funding the Darfur genocide. The state of Minnesota and six cities – St. Paul, Minneapolis, Edina, Winona, Virginia, and Hopkins – have divested their public funds More cities in Minnesota have divested than in any other state in the country.
  • She has helped raise ore than $120,000 to support civilian protection in Darfur and Burma.
  • She has spoken to thousands of people in faith organizations, schools, colleges and universities, Rotary clubs, Leagues of Women Voters, human rights commissions, and city councils about the history of genocides and the imperative to commit to a better future.
  • She developed and produced a readers’ theater play called “Upstanders,” highlighting the history of genocides from Armenia to Darfur and the efforts by ten brave people to speak out against genocide; this play is being used throughout the country.
  • She coordinated events at the Minnesota state capitol to raise awareness about Darfur.
  • She produced a documentary about Darfur with Minnesota’s public television station.
  • She lobbies the Minnesota delegation in Washington, D.C. to support anti-genocide legislation.
  • She organizes city-wide events to educate about genocide.
  • She works with youth throughout the state in education, outreach, and advocacy.
  • She formed the Genocide Intervention Action Group at her synagogue, which annually sponsors Holocaust and genocide-related programs, raises funds to provide protection for innocent people at risk, and advocates for action to end genocide.
  • She has built strong relationships between Minnesota human rights organizations and the Genocide Intervention Network-Minnesota, including the American Refugee Committee; the Center for Victims of Torture; The Advocates for Human Rights; and the Human Rights Center, University of Minnesota.

Kennedy is involved in her community through board membership with the following organizations: Rotary Club of Edina; YMCA; United Nations Association of Minnesota; and Sociologists of Minnesota.