Meet Our Board
Board of Directors
Barbara Goldstein, HERC Executive Director
I was born in New York City and moved to Florida in 1986. I have lived in Tallahassee since 1989 with my husband, Ron, and two children, Michael and Stephanie. The State of Florida requires that the Holocaust be taught in schools in all grade levels, and in 2006 I was one of the founders and co-chair of the Tallahassee Holocaust Education program sponsored by National Council of Jewish Women, Tallahassee Section to assist with this unfunded mandate. I developed meaningful programs and forged partnerships with the Florida Commission on Human Relations and the Leon County School District to bring Holocaust education to our teachers and students district-wide.
The great success of the Holocaust Education Program lead to establishing The Holocaust Education Resource Council, a Non-Profit Organization whose mission is to provide guidance and support for students, teachers, and the community about Holocaust education and teaching tolerance. In April 2008, I received the Woman of Achievement award from Congregation Shomrei Torah Sisterhood. It is appropriate because my voice is the one heard by Leon County educators from the classroom to the board room when I began questioning how or even if local kids were being taught about the Holocaust.
Thanks to my voice, there is now a group of dedicated volunteers who promote and organize an essay and art contest designed to teach school children about the Holocaust and the dangers of intolerance; and also a treasure trove of books and tapes worth thousands of dollars that is available to every Leon County teacher to use in teaching about the Holocaust. I have a very personal interest in this mission as my parents are Holocaust Survivors and an inspiration to never forget their remarkable story.
E-mail Barbara or call her at 850-443-9649
Steve Friedlander, HERC Treasurer
For many years, I have tried to maintain a presence in Holocaust education. Several times, I asked my father, a Holocaust survivor, to speak at Rickards and Chiles high schools, the schools I taught at. Even as a (now retired) math teacher, my background as a second-generation Holocaust survivor gave me the duty of passing on important information about the causes of hate and the consequences of that horrible trait. Now that we are three generations past the Holocaust and survivors are passing on, it is more important than ever to make sure the lessons of the Holocaust are not lost.
Rick Murgo, Interim Chair
Richard Murgo served as Dean of Social Sciences at Tallahassee Community College, retiring in 2021. Dr. Murgo joined the faculty of TCC in 1994 as an assistant professor, later becoming professor of political science. He subsequently became the college’s Director of Academic Enrichment, latterly promoted to Associate Dean of Social Sciences. Dr. Murgo was selected as the Dean of the College of Social Sciences in 2017. He holds master’s degrees in political science from Florida State University and in Applied Economics from the University of Central Florida. He received his Ph.D. from Florida State University. Dr. Murgo served as faculty Senate President 2005-2006, has served as the dual enrollment education coordinator of the statewide Florida Boys State and Girls State programs, and was advisor and co-founder for the TCC Model United Nations program at Tallahassee Community College. He founded and developed a faculty exchange program with Tianjin Foreign Studies University, as well as developed partnerships with other colleges for students study abroad programs in China and the Czech Republic. Dr. Murgo has also served on the United Nations Association of American Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Community Colleges Committee. Dr. Murgo served has served as president, treasurer, and currently vice president of the National Model United Nations Board of Directors. He is a current member of the Executive Board of Directors of the Florida Political Science Association, a former board member for the Florida College System Activities Association, a current member of the Holocaust Education Resource Council board of directors, as well as a member of the Board of Directors for Tallahassee Southern Model United Nations Association. He is the political contributor for WXTL, ABC News affiliate for Tallahassee and Southern Georgia. Dr. Murgo has presented numerous papers including, “United Nations Human Rights Treaties: Obligations and Compliance” and most recently, “EU-China Relations: Balancing Economic Opportunities with Political Challenges”. Richard Murgo is the recipient of the 2012 NICSOD Excellence in Teaching award, as well as the 2011 recipient of the Tallahassee Community College Club Advisor of the Year award.
Karen Asher-Cohen, Interim Vice Chair
Karen Asher-Cohen is a founding shareholder of the Radey Law Firm. Karen regularly represents insurers before the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. As a former Director of Insurer Services and Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Insurance, Karen has a keen insight into the issues pertaining to operating as an insurer or other licensed entity in the State of Florida, as both counsel and as an expert witness.
Karen received her B.A. in Spanish from the University of Massachusetts in 1979 and her J.D. with honors from Florida State University in 1982. Karen has a varied background in public service beginning with her career at the Florida State Attorney’s Office in 1982. Karen served as a Statewide Prosecutor from 1984 to 1986. In 1986 she began working for the Florida Bar. Karen left the Florida Bar in 1991 to work as a senior attorney with the Florida Public Service Commission.
In 1993, Karen began her career with the then Department of Insurance as a senior attorney/ prosecutor in the Division of Rehabilitation and Liquidation, working on complex receivership mat- ters. Karen moved through the ranks, and as Director of Insurer Services, her responsibilities includ- ed oversight of six bureaus including Property & Casualty Insurer Solvency, Property & Casualty Forms and Rates, Life & Health Insurer Solvency, Life & Health Forms and Rates, HMOs, and re- sidual markets. She was directly involved with applications to write all lines of business in Florida, the resolution of rate and form filing issues, as well as the oversight of market conduct examinations and investigations. Additionally, Karen represented Florida as a founding member of the Interna- tional Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC). Karen ultimately became Deputy Commissioner before departing in 2000 to enter private practice.
Judy Alexander, At-Large Board Member
I became involved with HERC when Barbara Goldstein explained what the group’s mission is and how they are accomplishing it. I realize now, more than ever, we must educate students and citizens in general about the Holocaust and its far-reaching consequences. The results of the 2022 poll made it clear there are many who think it never happened, or it was exaggerated, or it was caused by the Jews. Enlightening people and changing those alarming statistics is of utmost importance, and I enjoy working with HERC in that endeavor, so history will never repeat itself.
Anita Parish, At-Large Board Member
I am a widow, having moved to Tallahassee in 2010 after retiring and just before the birth of my twin grandsons. I am fortunate to have been able to care for them as much as I have over the years. I have a Master of Arts in Christian Education and served three different Presbyterian congregations over a period of 30 years as Director of Christian Education.
In my first church in DeLand, Florida, I led a study on Jewish Christian Relations which led to the formation of the West Volusia Holocaust Council with members coming from my church and DeLand’s Temple Israel. We were able to offer an annual Yom HaShoah at Stetson University, provide programs for the community, and loan trunks of materials to teachers. Not only did we start something very meaningful in the community, but also we formed wonderful friendships as we worked together.
My heart was touched during this time, and I developed a passion to try to understand better the development of anti-Judaism by the early Christian Church, taking graduate courses and studying scripture so that I could educate others. A quote from a Presbyterian General Assembly paper said, “The study has helped us to feel the pain of our Jewish neighbors who remember that the Holocaust was carried out in the heart of ‘Christian Europe’ by persons many of whom were baptized Christians.”
I continued my journey when I left DeLand and did what I could to teach and participate in Holocaust education in Winter Haven, Florida, and Shreveport, Louisiana. I am very pleased to be a part of the wonderful work of HERC now and honored to be a member of the Board of Directors.
Avi Wygodski, At-Large Board Member
My legacy is being a second-generation Holocaust decedent. My mother was in 3 concentration camps and a sole survivor of a large Jewish family who was confined in the Vilna Ghetto. After the liquidation of the Ghetto my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and many cousins were all murdered, mostly shot in Ponary. I feel a special responsibility by making sure that this event in history, is understood and is passed on from generation to generation. I was born in Tel Aviv, where my father and mother fought for Israel’s independence. They said if Israel was a country before World War II there would not have been a Holocaust.
Betty Jensen, At-Large Board Member
Betty Jensen started her professional career as a faculty member at Tallahassee Community College. In 1995, she started the process of centralizing all areas servicing international students and launched the Office of International Student Services to include recruitment and admission, immigration and academic advising, and cultural programming. As the Director of ISS, Betty led the rigorous process for TCC to obtain Department of State J-visa designation, secured funding for annual international student scholarships, one of which was endowed and renamed in her name. Betty retired from TCC in 2017 but her commitment and passion for the international education field brought her back to Florida State University where she is an F1 International Student Adviser and J1 Exchange Student Adviser.
Betty’s proudest accomplishment is developing and implementing the first Florida International Leadership Conference in 2007 (FILC) which annually continues to bring international and domestic students from colleges and universities in Florida for a weekend full of leadership development activities in Central Florida.
Betty has served in different roles at the state, regional and national levels for the National Association of International Educators – NAFSA as well as serving on several local boards, including Tallahassee Sunrise Rotary Club and the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra. Betty has traveled extensively and has led travel groups to different countries. Betty is originally from Trujillo, Peru, and her high school exchange student experience brought her to Tallahassee! She enjoys biking, hiking, and traveling.