Though he did not know about USC Shoah Foundation until attending an Ambassadors for Humanity Gala years ago, current Next Generation Council (NGC) Co- Chair Thom Melcher was drawn to the Institute’s work upon learning of its mission at the time—to end hatred, bigotry and intolerance. Calling the Institute’s approach to education through testimony “the best way to create lasting change,” Melcher relished the chance to be active in the fight against hatred.
When the opportunity presented itself to take on a leadership role as NGC Co-Chair, Melcher was humbled and inspired, yet still had doubts. “Relative to the amazing people on the NGC, I’m not a subject matter expert,” he said. “I’m not the son or grandson of a Holocaust survivor, nor am I Jewish.” Ultimately, his desire to effect change led to his accepting the role, giving him an important voice in the Institute’s evolved mission to develop empathy, understanding and respect, a mission that grows more relevant each day.
Melcher has taken the goals of the Next Generation Council, a key advisory group for USC Shoah Foundation, to heart: “The words Align, Extend and Amplify represent our focus: our efforts must Align with the priorities of the Board of Councilors and staff; our words and actions should Amplify the message and mission of the foundation; and our time, talents and treasure should be used to Extend the reach and impact of our collective efforts.”
Through his participation, Melcher serves as an example for others who may feel that they do not have the capability to participate. “It’s easy to make excuses – I don’t have time, I don’t have experience, I don’t have resources and so on,” he said. “But the truth is we all have skills, talent and the capacity to make a difference.” By committing to real change, Melcher brings energy and focus to his role and serves as an example that encourages others to act with urgency, thoughtfulness and purpose.
For his part, Melcher is quick to point out that the effort he has put into the Institute has been returned in kind: “While I hope I have had a meaningful impact on the NGC, I am confident it pales in comparison to the impact the NGC and USC Shoah Foundation has had on me.”