September 3, 2020
The Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio Commission welcomed Dr. Linda Grace Solis as the new HMMSA Commission Chair in July. She succeeds Mark Ingram, who served as the Board Chair since 2016 and will continue to serve on the Commission.
Dr. Solis is a professor at the University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine, where she focuses on topics such as self-awareness and emotional intelligence, cultural and intellectual humility, unconscious bias, and inclusive practices in a healthcare setting. She became a member of the HMMSA Commission in 2018.
I recently had a chance to interview her and we talked about what drew her to the HMMSA, her goals and aspirations for the Commission, and the future of the museum.
How did you first become involved with the HMMSA?
Honestly, I was one of those people who didn’t even know the Holocaust Memorial Museum of San Antonio existed, but I had always been interested in the topic and was an avid reader of books on the subject. I have always been particularly fascinated with the ability of survivors to forgive and come back from all that they had suffered and move forward with their lives. I finally heard about the museum from my good friends Linda Levy and Daniel Laser. They introduced me to Ellen Ollervidez, the museum director at the time, and she eventually asked me to join the Commission.
What has been your favorite part of volunteering on the Commission?
Getting to meet survivors and hear them speak! I also love the Patches event that talks about the other groups targeted by the Nazis and getting to know everyone at the museum and the Federation. It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience.
What are your priorities for your tenure as the Commission Chair?
I hope to increase the visibility of the museum and increase the number of visitors; both online and in-person when we reopen. I’d really like to bring the message to the San Antonio community that just because history is history doesn’t mean that there aren’t lessons for today in that story. I want to use the lessons that the Holocaust offers us to help us all be more open, welcoming, and loving to our fellow human beings, regardless of similarities or differences. I also really want to help get the message out that the museum is not just for the Jewish community, it’s for all of San Antonio, regardless of faith traditions there are lessons here for all of us. I really believe that the Holocaust Memorial Museum can be a vehicle to help bring us all together in our common humanity to help one another.
What are your dreams for the future of the museum?
In the long-term, I would love to eventually have a stand-alone museum in a high traffic area, like downtown; to make us a destination on par with the Alamo and the Missions. For the short-term, I think it is so important that the museum continues to bring the story of the survivors to the San Antonio community. So, I hope we can continue what we have been doing and keep doing more.
Once the pandemic is over and life returns to normal, where are you most looking forward to going?
Before all this, my husband and I had planned a trip to New Mexico in the fall for hatch chile season. I’m really looking forward to that, but it looks like it will have to be the 2021 hatch chile season instead! Other than that, I’d really like to just go to the mall. To go to the library again, to go to a restaurant and not have to take the food to go. Some of those simple things that I so took for granted before Covid 19 hit.
Thank you, Dr. Solis, we are excited to embark on this journey with you as the new Commission Chair for the Holocaust Memorial Muesum of San Antonio.
Interview by Kate McCloud, Associate Director of the HMMSA
The Holocaust Memorial Museum is a program of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio. To learn more about the museum, upcoming events, educational resources, and opportunities, visit www.hmmsa.org