Avi Benlolo

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Avi Benlolo
Occupation CEO of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC)
Known for Human rights activism, Holocaust education

Avi Benlolo is a Canadian human rights activist and president and chief executive officer of Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC),[1] the Canadian branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He was appointed in 2000.

Organizational responsibilities[edit]

Benlolo was brought on to restructure and redevelop the organization, promote tolerance and human rights education, and raise the profile of FSWC in Canada. His responsibilities included reformation of operations, office systems and the Board of Directors,[2] conforming to Revenue Canada guidelines, improving financial management and fiscal responsibility, hiring and training staff, and relocating the FSWC office.

Since 2000 fundraising campaigns and programs have increased overall revenue by more than 500 percent and have grown the organization’s constituency to more than 25,000 donors.[citation needed]

Events[edit]

In 2000 FSWC began hosting events.[3] Among them is the annual ‘Spirit of Hope’[4] gala which has featured such guests as Elie Wiesel, Salman Rushdie, Rudy W. Giuliani, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Newt Gingrich, Dick Gephardt and Glenn Beck. Other events include film premieres, the Woman of Valour Luncheon, educational workshops[5] in the Tolerance Training Centre, a new Freedom Day[6] event honouring the life and legacy of Simon Wiesenthal, and theatrical productions on the Holocaust.

In March 2011 FSWC opened a new “Justice. Tolerance. Human Rights”[7] Gallery to showcase the issues of Cambodian land mines, the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust. FSWC continues to showcase speakers ranging from local and federal politicians to community activists and Hollywood producers to discuss their work and their support for FSWC activities.

Education and training[edit]

In 2006 FSWC established the Resource and Leadership Training Centre[8] encompassing a state-of-the-art classroom, extensive reference resources and an exhibition centre to showcase contemporary themes ranging from the Holocaust and genocide to peace studies. As the organization grows new educational workshops that promote tolerance, justice and human rights and sponsor thousands of students to attend artistic productions dealing with themes of hatred and the Holocaust have been added to the Center's roster of programs. The Resource and Leadership Training Center serves as a focal point for educating and sensitizing the community at large about anti-Semitism, racism and terrorism- a meeting place that serves to build bridges among like-minded people who want to promote social justice and human rights.

To strengthen the organization’s outreach efforts, the use of video documentaries, mass media campaigns and the development of on-line marketing tools[9] has been encouraged; hundreds of community leaders are now engaged in the work of the organization including the Board of Directors and Board of Governors, the Advisory Council of the Resource and Leadership Training Centre, the Lawyers, Doctors and Accountants 4Wiesenthal groups as well as the Community Liaison Committee.

Media advocacy[edit]

As well as writing for newspapers in Canada,[10][11] Benlolo is regularly interviewed and cited by media in print, on radio and television.[12][13] He continues to raise funds in support of charities and non-governmental organizations and to speak on a variety of issues relating to tolerance, justice and human rights. He has worked with international, national and local community and business leaders, including Mikhail Gorbachev and King Abdullah[disambiguation needed], as well as Canadian leaders including General Roméo Dallaire, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, local mayors and Chiefs of Police, federal Members of Parliament and the Prime Minister of Canada.[14]

Personal background[edit]

Prior to his tenure with FSWC Benlolo worked for United Jewish Appeal of Toronto from 1993-2000. His roles included work with Research and Development (1993–1995), Campaign Associate (1995–1996) and Director of Young Leadership (1997–2000) where he was charged with identifying and cultivating future leaders. While with UJA Federation, he led missions to the Ukraine, Morocco, Germany, Poland, England, America and Israel.

Benlolo's education includes a Masters of Arts degree and an Honours Bachelors degree for which he graduated cum laude.

He currently resides in Thornhill, Ontario with his family.

References[edit]