Dr. Gary P. Zola, Executive Director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and Edward M. Ackerman Family Distinguished Professor of the American Jewish Experience and Reform Jewish History at the Cincinnati campus of HUC-JIR, will receive the Beacon of Light Humanitarian Award from Lighthouse Youth Services on April 16, 2016. Beacon of Light Humanitarian Award honorees are recognized for their leadership, community service, and positive impact on the lives of children, youth, and families. Additional 2016 honorees include Iva Brown (awarded posthumously), Ryan Messer and James Musuraca-Messer, and Edgar Smith.
Dr. Gary P. Zola is actively involved in community relations in Cincinnati, OH. In 2012, he was awarded both the Bridges for a Just Community “Distinguished Service Award” and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center “King Legacy Award.” In addition, he has received the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission's “Bishop Herbert Thompson, Jr. Outstanding Humanitarian Award” in recognition of his service to the people of the greater Cincinnati metropolitan area as well as the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati’s “Distinguished Leadership Award” for service to Cincinnati’s Jewish community.
In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Zola to serve as a member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, an independent agency of the Federal government. Established by Public Law in 1985, the Commission exists to foster the preservation and protection of the cemeteries, monuments, and historic buildings associated with the foreign heritage of United States citizens.
Prior to joining the Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, Dr. Zola served as the organizer and chair of the congressionally recognized Commission for Commemorating 350 Years of American Jewish History, a consortium of leading research institutions established to promote the study of American Jewish history during the 350th anniversary Jewish life in America (2004-2005). In 2006, Dr. Zola became the first American Jewish historian to receive appointment to the Academic Advisory Council of the congressionally recognized Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.