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Former ADL director to join anti-hate group

Posted by David Dahl, Regional Editor March 28, 2008 05:50 PM

By Hinda Mandell
Globe Correspondent

The former regional director of Anti-Defamation League New England, who was at the center of a firestorm last year over whether to fully acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, will join a Brookline non-profit that teaches tolerance.

Andrew H. Tarsy will begin his position as chief institutional advancement officer at Facing History and Ourselves in April. He accepted the job Tuesday.

On Friday, Tarsy, 39, said: "I've been an admirer and friend of the organization [Facing History] and the people there. It's an opportunity to continue what I've been doing.''

The move is the latest step in a months-long controversy that saw him fired and rehired, only to have him resign a few months later. It began in August when the Watertown Town Council - under pressure from the town's large Armenian population - voted to sever its ties with the ADL's No Place for Hate antidiscrimination program because the national ADL's refused to fully acknowledge the genocide. Tarsy later broke ranks with the national office, was fired in August and then rehired. He left in December.

Margot Stern Strom, executive director and president of the board of Facing History, said Tarsy will help oversee fundraising and program development. Tarsy will be part of the senior leadership team.

"Andy has unique experience in being a leader of a non-profit. He has legal experience and tremendous experience in being able to articulate the work Facing History and Ourselves does,'' said Strom.

Facing History and Ourselves offers professional development and resource guides to educators on genocide, with the goal of fostering tolerance among students. The international organization has programs in 120 countries, Strom said.

As part of its educational program, Facing History has published a book on the Armenian Genocide, "Crimes Against Humanity and Civilization: The Genocide of the Armenians.''

Leaders within the Jewish community expressed excitement for Tarsy's next professional venture.

"I think he will be able to use his passion in a very positive way -- untethered -- at Facing History,'' said Nancy K. Kaufman, executive director of Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. "He'll be free to express himself.''

A spokesperson for the ADL in the New York office said she offered Tarsy her best wishes. "We wish him well in what he chooses to do with his life,'' said Myrna Shinebaum.

A search is currently underway for a regional director at the Boston office of the ADL.

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