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Judith Goldstein

Humanity in Action was founded by the historian Dr. Judith S. Goldstein in November 1997. Dr. Goldstein and the founding Board of Directors intended to educate and foster a vibrant, international network of innovative leaders committed to protecting minority rights and the values of diverse, democratic societies.

The intellectual touchstone for Humanity in Action has always been study of the Holocaust, the most devastating example of the collapse of democratic civil society and the denial of rights to minorities. Studying the Holocaust reveals stories of heroic individuals—acting alone or in communities—taking risks to resist Nazism: the Danes as a people, for instance, rescued their country’s entire Jewish population from murder. The Holocaust reveals questions too: Why do some people make courageous, moral choices while others fail? Can we enable today’s young leaders to make similarly courageous choices?

Motivated by these questions, Dr. Goldstein experimented with pilot educational programs for American and Danish students in 1996 and 1997. Since those pilot programs, Humanity in Action has grown geographically, intellectually and in its range of programs. Humanity in Action has added fellowships in five countries and has opened applications to students in 13 countries. It has expanded its scope to include topics as diverse as the legacies of American slavery, conflict resolution in the Balkans and contemporary social justice issues in Europe and the United States.

Humanity in Action has also continued to create new programs and opportunities for its growing constituency of Senior Fellows—fellowship alumni who remain engaged with the organization and its mission. Humanity in Action has developed professional development programs at the U.S. Congress, European Parliament, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and other leading institutions. It also organizes ongoing seminars and educational exchanges so that its network of Senior Fellows and the broader public may remain knowledgeable and inspired by Humanity in Action’s core issues.

Humanity in Action’s growth has been made possible through cooperation, collaboration and consultation of many generous individuals and a number of leading organizations across sectors, including but not limited to: Dobkin Family Foundation; Donner Foundation; Dutch Ministry for Health, Welfare and Sport; Fetzer Institute; Ford Foundation; Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (EVZ); Germeshausen Foundation; Hurford Foundation; Lantos Foundation; Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund; Sue and Eugene Mercy Foundation; Polish Foreign Ministry; and the U.S. Department of State.

Click here to read reflections on Humanity in Action from Dr. Judith Goldstein and Humanity in Action Senior Fellows.


Humanity in action Timeline

1997: HIA is incorporated in the United States.

1999: The first Humanity in Action Fellowship programs for 40 American, Danish and Dutch students take place in Amsterdam and Copenhagen. HIA The Netherlands is incorporated.

2001: The Lantos-Humanity in Action Congressional Fellowship is established. HIA Germany is founded as a separate legal entity.

2002: The HIA Fellowship program in Berlin begins. Senior Fellows begin internships at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

2003: Senior Fellows in the United States hold their first annual conference. HIA Denmark is founded as a separate legal entity.

2004: The Pat Cox-Humanity in Action Fellowship in the European Parliament is established.

2005: HIA begins accepting Fellows from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Romania, Poland and Ukraine. HIA France is founded as a separate legal entity.

2006: The HIA Fellowship programs in Paris, New York and Warsaw begin. Internship programs for Senior Fellows are established in Berlin and San Francisco. The European Senior Fellows hold their first annual conference. HIA Germany accepts Fellows from Georgia.

2008: HIA conducts its first educational exchange for Senior Fellows, a study trip to Poland on the theme of “The Relevance of the Holocaust.” HIA expands the participation of Bosnian Fellows. The HIA Centers in the United States and Europe open.

2009: The HIA San Francisco Grassroots Fellowship at non-profit and civic organizations begins. HIA partners with the Dutch government and Felix Meritis Foundation to run the P!oneers program in Amsterdam and New York. HIA Polska is incorporated. HIA establishes a steering committee in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

2010: HIA organizes its first annual international conference in Amsterdam. HIA accepts Fellows from Sweden. The number of HIA Senior Fellows surpasses 1,000.

2011: HIA Bosnia and Herzegovina is established as a legal entity. HIA's first book, Reflections on the Holocaust, is published. HIA's first film, "Just People," is released. The annual international conference is held in Berlin at the Bertelsmann Foundation.

2012: HIA announces a partnership agreement with The New School. Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the annual international conference in Sarajevo. HIA begins accepting fellows from Turkey.

2013: HIA holds its annual international conference in Warsaw at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. HIA concludes its first social innovation competition for Action Projects. 

2014: HIA begins accepting fellows from Greece. HIA announces the Diplomacy and Diversity Fellowship. HIA holds its annual international conference in the Danish town of Sønderborg. HIA holds a conference on cities and human rights in New York City. HIA runs a study trip in Berlin on populism, nationalism and extremist movements in Europe.

2015: HIA announces a parntership with The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Inc. HIA launches the John Lewis Fellowship in Atlanta. HIA develops the Philanthropy and Social Enterprise Fellowship in Detroit and New York. HIA holds a major grants competition for Action Projects addressing anti-Semitism and discrimination against Roma in Europe.