Institute News

Next Generation Council Member Sam Pond Hosts Fundraising Event in Philadelphia

Ruth Hernandez, the first winner of the IWitness Video Challenge and currently a Junior Intern at USC Shoah Foundation, was one of the main speakers at a fundraising event in Philadelphia hosted by the Institute’s Next Generation Council member Sam Pond. The event raised nearly $100,000 for USC Shoah Foundation.

Pond and his partners Thomas Giordano, Jr., David Stern and Jerry Lehocky hosted the event the evening of June 7 for 150 guests at the office of Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano. Among the guests were Brian Hymowitz, whose grandmother, Barbara Schubak, gave her testimony to the Visual History Archive, and Eden Strunk, Hernandez's teacher.

Pond, Executive Director Stephen Smith and Hernandez were the featured speakers of the evening. In his remarks, Pond said it was the most important event the firm had ever hosted.

Smith gave an overview of USC Shoah Foundation and the importance of its work today.

Hernandez spoke about her experiences with USC Shoah Foundation over the past three years. First, she was the winner of the inaugural IWitness Video Challenge for her video “Voices of Our Journey,” for which she got to attend the 2014 Ambassadors for Humanity gala and meet President Obama. For the past two years, Hernandez has been a Junior Intern at the Institute, which included a trip to Poland for the Auschwitz: The Past is Present program in January 2015.

Reflecting on the evening, Hernandez said she feels “privileged and happy” to have been with USC Shoah Foundation for the past three years. She has overcome some fears along the way and learned a great deal, and is appreciative of the kindness of the Institute staff and the experiences she has been able to have.

“I think this experience has allowed me to open up my perspective and views. I have learned such valuable lessons from the survivors and I have learned about history in a way I had never done before,” Hernandez said. “I am unsure of what I want to study, but I know that I want to be able to help others who are at a disadvantage with my career in other countries. This has been such a great journey, despite the obstacles that presented themselves at times, I would not have it any other way.” 

Created in 2013 to help bolster the strategic goals, programs, and activities of the Institute, the Next Generation Council includes community and business leaders, entertainment and media trendsetters, philanthropists, and social entrepreneurs from across the country, as well as children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors.

Members of the Next Generation Council ensure a seamless sequence of caretakers for the Institute and its Visual History Archive as well as enlist new energy and ideas to benefit the overall organization.