Administration

Board of Directors

  • Mariana Abrantes de Sousa
    Treasurer
    Mariana Abrantes de Sousa is an economist with degrees from the University of California Berkeley and Princeton University and extensive experience as an investment banker and international finance consultant. She worked as financial controller in the Ministries of Health and Transport, reporting to the Portuguese Minister of Finance from 2006 to 2010. She is a member of the Portuguese Economics association and the Portuguese Institute of Corporate Governance IPCG. Mariana has been involved in the movement to recognize Aristides de Sousa Mendes for over twenty-five years in the US and Portugal. Born in Coimbra, Portugal, she holds US and Portuguese citizenships.
  • Joan Halperin
    Secretary
    Joan Halperin, daughter and granddaughter of Sousa Mendes visa recipients, is a retired teacher in the New York City public schools, where she also worked as a teacher trainer and wrote grants for her district. She also taught English for several years in Israel. In 1997, she facilitated the successful recuperation of her family's real estate holdings in Lodz, Poland that had been appropriated by the Communist regime. Later, she restored a former twelfth-century convent in Umbria, Italy, where she hosted many groups; these included Israeli soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, in collaboration with the Herzog Hospital of Jerusalem's PTSD unit. She participated in the Sousa Mendes Foundation's 2013 "Journey on the Road to Freedom" and gave testimony in the documentary film, With God Against Man. Joan is conversant in Polish, Hebrew, Italian and French and holds a Master's degree in TESOL from Adelphi University. She is the author of a forthcoming family memoir on how her family evaded the Nazi dragnet thanks to Aristides de Sousa Mendes.
  • Dr. Olivia Mattis
    President and COO
    Board President Dr. Olivia Mattis is an award-winning musicologist and author with a Ph.D. from Stanford University and a B.A. from Yale University. Twelve members of her paternal family were rescued by Aristides de Sousa Mendes as they escaped from Belgium in 1940; meanwhile, her maternal grandparents founded and led the Jewish Resistance there, while her mother was a hidden child. Mattis lectures widely, and delivered Keynote addresses at the 2011 Yom Hashoah commemoration of the City of Philadelphia and the 2014 Yom Hashoah commemoration of the City of Rochester. She has organized high-profile international conferences and music festivals that have received media coverage from Good Morning America and The New York Times. She is Contributing Editor of the Jewish genealogy and family history journal, Avotaynu Online and author of "Sousa Mendes's List — The Search for Survivors."
  • Gerald Mendes
    Chairman of the Board
    Gerald Mendes, an industrial engineer, is the grandson of Aristides de Sousa Mendes. His father was Luis-Filipe Mendes, one of the youngest children of Aristides and Angelina. Gerald was born in Niagara Falls, raised in Montreal, and lives in Paris. He has known about the story of his grandparents since the age of ten, and has been directly involved in programs to commemorate them since 1988, in Canada, France, Portugal, and the United States. He holds an MBA from Concordia University (Montreal) and has worked for most of his career in the area of supply chain management in the pharmaceutical industry. He is also a triathlete.
  • Daniel Subotnik, Esq.
    Vice-President and Chair of the Governance Committee
    The son of two Sousa Mendes visa recipients, Daniel Subotnik is a Professor of Law at the Touro Law Center in Central Islip, New York. Admitted to the bar of New York; Certified Public Accountant (C.P.A.), State of Illinois. Subotnik worked in the investment banking field before undertaking teaching positions in law and business at, variously, Northwestern University College of Law; the University of Illinois, Chicago; Santa Clara University School of Law; Seton Hall University School of Law; and the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. In 2013 he organized a major event honoring Aristides de Sousa Mendes at the Touro Law Center, in partnership with leaders of Long Island's Portuguese community. He serves on the Sousa Mendes Foundation's Board of Directors and is Chair of its Governance Committee.

Advisory Council

  • Miguel Avila
    Miguel Valle Ávila is a photojournalist, columnist, and Assistant Editor of The Portuguese Tribune, as well as a Senior Director for a healthcare multinational. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree from San Jose State University and is the author of IV International Conference on the Holy Spirit Festas: A Photo Journal (Portuguese Heritage Publications, 2010). He serves as Co-Chair of the Portuguese Studies Program Advisory Board at San Jose State University. For decades an admirer of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, he coordinated the celebrations of the 70th Anniversary of his Act of Conscience with three events in 2010.
  • Rabbi David Baron
    Rabbi David Baron is the rabbi of the Temple of the Arts in Los Angeles and a consultant to the television industry on Jewish issues. He is the author of Sacred Space, Sacred Moments, and Moses on Management: 50 Leadership Lessons from the Greatest Manager of All Time. He conducted televised interviews with Elie Wiesel, Abba Eban, Yitzhak Rabin, Dr. Jonas Salk and other Jewish leaders. He chaired the gathering honoring Righteous Diplomats at the United Nations in 1999. As founder of the Committee for Righteous Deeds, he co-produced the premiere of the History Channel Documentary, Diplomats for the Damned.
  • Dr. Michael Berenbaum
    Michael Berenbaum, Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute and co-founder of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, is one of the foremost Holocaust authorities in the world today. His books include A Promise to Remember: The Holocaust in the Words and Voices of Its Survivors; The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust as Told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp; A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis and Witness to the Holocaust: An Illustrated Documentary History of the Holocaust in the Words of Its Victims, Perpetrators, and Bystanders. In film, his work as co-producer of One Survivor Remembers: The Gerda Weissman Klein Story was recognized with an Academy Award, an Emmy Award and the Cable Ace Award. He was the historical consultant on The Shoah Foundation's documentary The Last Days, which won an Academy Award for best feature-length documentary.
  • Dr. David Bossman
    Reverend David M. Bossman is Professor of Jewish-Christian Studies in the Department of Religion at Seton Hall University where he also directs the Sister Rose Thering Fund for Education in Jewish-Christian Studies—an endowment that sponsors graduate education for teachers on the Holocaust and related subjects. He received his Ph.D. in Biblical Languages and Literature from St. Louis University and is the Editor-in-Chief of Biblical Theology Bulletin. He was a Rockefeller Scholar-in-Residence at the Ecumenical Institute for Advanced Theological Research in Jerusalem and has participated in National Endowment for the Humanities institutes at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and Brown University.
  • Dr. Sylvain Bromberger
    Dr. Sylvain Bromberger is professor emeritus in the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy and also taught at Princeton University and the University of Chicago. His family (father, mother, and two brothers, as well as himself) obtained the Portuguese visas that saved their lives in Bayonne thanks to Aristides de Sousa Mendes, although they did not find out about him until long after his death. Bromberger's book How We Know What We Don't Know is dedicated to Sousa Mendes's memory. He and his brother David Bromberger were featured in the Sousa Mendes documentary film Le Consul proscrit.
  • Dr. Steven Carol
    Dr. Steven Carol is a historian and author whose writings include From Jerusalem to the Lion of Judah and Beyond: Israel's Foreign Policy in East Africa Since 1948 among other books. The son of parents who were rescued by Aristides de Sousa Mendes in June 1940, he possesses his father's Nansen passport with the signed visa. He has been lecturing and writing about Sousa Mendes since the 1980's and appeared jointly with John Paul Abranches in presentations across the United States and in Portugal. Using elements of Carol's design, including the phrase "His signature saved thousands," Portugal issued a stamp for Sousa Mendes in 1995.
  • João Crisóstomo
    João Crisóstomo is a humanitarian activist who has been a prime-mover in a variety of causes: the saving of the Stone Age engravings of Foz-Coa in Portugal (now designated a World Heritage Site); the struggle for the Independence of East Timor; and the recognition of three Holocaust rescuers: Aristides de Sousa Mendes, Luis Martins de Sousa Dantas, and Père Benoit. In 2000, following his involvement and contribution to the “Visas for Life” exhibit at the United Nations organized by Eric Saul and Rabbi David Baron, he was invited to join the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. João Crisóstomo has worked tirelessly for over 15 years to raise awareness and bring recognition to Aristides de Sousa Mendes.
  • Dr. Nathaniel Deutsch
    Dr. Nathaniel Deutsch is a Professor of History, the Co-Director of the Center for Jewish Studies, and the Director of the Institute for Humanities Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the son of the late Henri Zvi Deutsch, a Sousa Mendes visa recipient who was an important defender of the hero's memory and a prime-mover in the effort to have him recognized in Israel and worldwide. Deutsch has continued his father's efforts to honor the memory of Sousa Mendes through public speaking, and is developing an annual Sousa Mendes Lecture at his university.
  • Reese Erlich
    Reese Erlich has been a freelance journalist for 44 years. He was among the first to write about the Sousa Mendes case for national media, including the Christian Science Monitor. He taught journalism at several Bay Area universities and is the author of four books, and numerous TV and radio documentaries. "World War II Holocaust hero's honor caught up in politics," Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 4, 1986 "Forgotten Hero. Portugal's President to honor diplomat who defied Holocaust" Christian Science Monitor, May 19, 1987 "Portuguese Jews Out of the Shadows," Baltimore Sun, April 16, 1995 Photo © Janyce Erlich
  • Jane Friedman
    Jane Friedman, a veteran foreign correspondent, was until recently an editor at the Voice of America in Washington DC. Early in her career, she was a Newsweek correspondent in Paris followed by postings with CNN in Jerusalem and then Cairo. She has covered news overseas for The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times and The Washington Post. Her father's family, from Antwerp, Belgium, received Portuguese visas in June 1940 thanks to the generosity of Aristides de Sousa Mendes. Her forthcoming memoir is titled, The Diamond Dealer's Daughter.
  • Robert Jacobvitz
    Robert Jacobvitz is a graduate of Yeshiva University's Wurzweiler School of Social Work and holds an MSW in Community Social Work. For ten years he directed the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Greater East Bay, and it was in this capacity in the 1980's that he began championing the cause of Aristides de Sousa Mendes. In 2005 he received the Aristides de Sousa Mendes Humanitarian Medal from the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. His paper "Reinstating the Name and Honor of a Portuguese Diplomat Who Rescued Jews during World War II" was published in the Winter/Spring 2008 issue of The Journal of Jewish Communal Service. Currently he is pursuing a PhD in Social Welfare at his alma mater.
  • Dr. Lissy Jarvik
    Dr. Lissy Jarvik, founding President of the Sousa Mendes Foundation Board of Directors, is one of the foremost geriatric psychiatry specialists in the world today. Rescued by Aristides de Sousa Mendes after her family fled her native Holland, she earned an M.D. from Case Western University and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. She is Professor Emeritus at UCLA and the author of over 350 publications. She was appointed Distinguished Physician by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, only the second woman and one of thirty-six physicians nationwide to be so honored at the time of her appointment. She is featured in the series "Changing the Face of Medicine" of the National Institutes of Health.
  • Dr. Marcia Sachs Littell
    Dr. Marcia Sachs Littell is Professor and founder of the Master of Arts Program in Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and is an internationally recognized Holocaust educator. She is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Center on the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights and from 1980-2011 was the Director of the Annual Scholars' Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches, both based at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. Her books include Liturgies on the Holocaust: An Interfaith Anthology, The Genocidal Mind and Women in the Holocaust: Responses, Insights and Perspectives. Photo ? Marilyn Arnold Palley 2010
  • Linda Mendes
    Linda Mendes is a masters student in art history at the University of Quebec in Montreal. She is a granddaughter of Aristides and Angelina de Sousa Mendes, and has spoken at Holocaust remembrance events in North America and in Europe. She has appeared in several films about her grandfather, including Semyon Pinkhasov's With God Against Man and a television documentary produced by Radio Canada. In 2013 she participated in the Sousa Mendes Foundation's "Journey on the Road to Freedom" tour through France, Spain and Portugal in the footsteps of Sousa Mendes and the refugees of 1940. She has a passion for history and research.
  • Dr. Mordecai Paldiel
    Dr. Mordecai Paldiel headed the Righteous Among the Nations Department at Yad Vashem from 1982-2007, and was himself rescued from the Holocaust by a Righteous Gentile. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. at Temple University in the field of Religious and Holocaust studies. His books include The Path of the Righteous, Sheltering the Jews, Saving the Jews, Diplomat Heroes of the Holocaust, and The Righteous Among the Nations. He currently teaches at Stern College and Drew University and serves as a consultant to the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
  • Luis Pires
    Luis Pires is the news editor of the Portuguese-American newspaper Luso-Americano and the author of the Portuguese book O Anjo de Bord?us about Aristides de Sousa Mendes, forthcoming in an English-language edition. He was a radio and television personality in Portugal before immigrating to the United States, where he has worked as a correspondent for Portuguese television and a news anchor for the Newark-based station SPT-TV. He is a Professor of Journalism at Kean University.
  • Adélio Simões
    Adélio Simões holds an MBA and is the Founder and CEO of Iberel Corporation. Born in Portugal during the Salazar regime and now living in the United States, he has been interested in the Sousa Mendes cause for many years.
  • Michael Spett
    Michael D. Spett is a retired New York City printer-publisher now residing in Florida. Born in Brussels, Belgium, he escaped with his family via France and Portugal. In 1986 the family's Portuguese visa, signed by Aristides de Sousa Mendes in Bordeaux, was reproduced in The Courage to Care, a book about the Righteous Gentiles that was designed and printed by his firm. This led to his participation in the Portuguese documentary film Le Consul proscrit and subsequently to the production of another Holocaust related book, The Yellow Star, the American translation of the highly regarded German photo-documentary volume, Der gelbe Stern.
  • Anne Treseder
    Anne Treseder is an attorney in San Francisco, California. In 1986 she was a founding member of the International Committee to Commemorate Dr. Aristides de Sousa Mendes, which successfully worked to "rehabilitate" Sousa Mendes in his homeland. Later, in trying to follow Sousa Mendes' example, she became involved in the fight for East Timorese self-determination. She has been honored by Visas for Life and by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation for her work on East Timor and the Sousa Mendes cause. She has written numerous articles for the Portuguese-American and Caboverdian-American media and is presently working on an archive for inclusion in the planned Sousa Mendes museum.
  • Dr. Douglas Wheeler
    Dr. Douglas Wheeler is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author, co-author or co-editor of eight books and more than 200 articles on Portuguese history, foreign affairs and the history of espionage, and he is also a playwright. He has been decorated with medals by two Portuguese Presidents of the Republic, for advancing world knowledge of Portugal and her past. He authored an important article on Aristides de Sousa Mendes that appeared in Luso-Brazilian Review and that is available here: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3513337. His book A Little World War II: Secret Operations in Lisbon, 1939-45 is forthcoming.

Others on our Team

  • Danny Cohen
    Danny Cohen is a cofounder of A Thing Design, the Web Development firm who build this website. He specializes in building complex database systems for organizational challenges, large and small. His portfolio includes clients such as Birthright Israel Next, the Metropolitan Yeshiva High School Athletic League and now, The Sousa Mendes Foundation.
  • Anton Evangelista
    Anton Evangelista is an award-winning New York-based filmmaker who has spearheaded the Foundation's project to capture the personal stories of the Sousa Mendes visa recipients on film.  A graduate of the High School of Art and Design in New York City, he founded his production company Comprehensive Films in 1994.  His directorial credits include Just Laugh!, a documentary on the healing effects of laughter featuring Regis Philbin and other celebrities, and Umberto E, a tribute to the filmmaker's father that tells a story of personal triumph, in which love and forgiveness serve as weapons of "revenge."  
  • Dr. Paul Freudman
    Paul Freudman, M.D. is a Board-certified anesthesiologist in private practice in the New York/New Jersey area. Born in New York and raised and educated in Switzerland and Belgium, he lives on Long Island. An experienced genealogist, he has traced his family roots back to the 1700s in Poland and the Netherlands. At the outbreak of World War II, most of his relatives lived in Antwerp, and many escaped via Bordeaux. Three branches of his family and an uncle were Sousa Mendes visa recipients. Other relatives were likely granted Sousa Mendes visas too, including his paternal grandparents and close cousins. A key member of our research team, he speaks at SMF events and conducts video interviews with Sousa Mendes visa recipients.
  • Joel Golombeck
    Joel Golombeck is a cofounder of A Thing Design, the Web Development firm who build this website. He is a designer and illustrator with many years of experience working in web and digital. His projects span across a wide range of clients such as publishing houses, jewelry designers, photography retailers, medical professionals, investment firms, fine artists and poets. He has an MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons and a BS in Studio Art from NYU.
  • Marie J. Gomes
    Born and raised in France, Marie J. Gomes holds a BA (Maîtrise) in Corporate Law as well as a Master (DESS) in International Business Law from the University of Paris X. Having lived in several countries for the past fifteen years, working for global companies and law firms, she currently resides in San Francisco, where she is self-employed. She is fluent in French, Portuguese, English and Spanish and has a passion for history and research. She is co-founder of the SMF research team and translated José Ruy's graphic novel on Aristides de Sousa Mendes into French.
  • Jackie Schwarz
    A native of London and resident of Antwerp, Belgium, Jackie Schwarz has worked as a gemologist and jewelry designer. Since 2005, she has conducted genealogical research in Belgian and European archives, with a primary focus on helping Jewish families discover lost personal histories. Seven members of her husband's family received Portuguese visas from Aristides de Sousa Mendes. A key member of the SMF research team, she investigates family links between the visa recipients and obtains their photographs, in order to put a face to every name.
The Sousa Mendes Foundation is a member of the Association of Holocaust Organizations and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.