Loyola University Chicago

Department of History


Graduate Alumni Spotlight: Kelley Szany

Graduate Alumni Spotlight: Kelley Szany

Kelley Szany, an alumna of Loyola’s Public History Master's Program, is the Vice President of Education & Exhibitions at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center (IHMEC)--the 2nd largest Holocaust museum and human rights institution in the United States. In this role, she provides strategic leadership and planning for education initiatives and exhibitions. Major recent initiatives included development of the content and education framework of the groundbreaking Take a Stand Center ­– including the award-winning interactive, holographic Survivor Stories Experience; and content development for the Stories of Survival: Object. Image. Memory exhibition, the first special exhibition curated by the Museum, and co-leading the creation of a new audio tour integrating Survivor storytelling. In her previous role as Director of Education, Kelley oversaw all initiatives for educators and students, public programing, and training for all recruits and promotional classes (Sergeants and Lieutenants) to the Chicago Police Department, Cook County Sheriff and Correctional Department recruits, and suburban law enforcement officials.

During her 16-year tenure, Kelley has become recognized as a leading human rights and museum educator, training facilitator, and public speaker. Kelley currently sits on the Board of Directors for both the Association of Holocaust Organizations and Educators Institute for Human Rights. She serves on the Advisory Councils for Together We Remember and Unsilence. In 2015, Kelley was appointed to serve on the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission. She has also served as adjunct faculty at Aurora University and Jagellonian University in Krakow, Poland, and currently serves as an adjunct professor at National Louis University.

Kelley has won multiple awards for her educational and human rights work, including the the Samuel Goldsmith Award from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and the Damen Award from Loyola’s Graduate School. In 2014, she was awarded with the Carl Wilkens Fellowship, a yearlong program where she worked alongside national leaders to create and strengthen a permanent anti-genocide constituency through both advocacy work and influence of U.S. policy. Kelley is the author of “Teaching the 1994 Rwandan Genocide Through Stanton’s 8 Stages,” and “The Power of Story: Teaching About Genocide Through Literature Circles,” in the upcoming Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group book Teaching About Genocide: Insights and Advice from Secondary Teachers – Volume One and Volume Two.

Kelley holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Canisius College, as well as her master’s degree in public history from Loyola University Chicago. While at Loyola, her work focused on the trajectory of memory in Holocaust museums and memorials.

“I don’t think that a month or a week goes by where I’m not kind of pulling from my toolbelt of skills and approaches that I learned from my time at Loyola, what I learned from my classmates, from my professors, who really opened your eyes to how you approach history, how you make the different narratives and perspectives of history accessible to the public,” says Kelley.

Interested in learning more about Kelley’s work? Check out this episode of Testimony, a podcast created by current History PhD student Sean Jacobson.