The Lower East Side Tenement Museum announced the appointment of a new leader today.
He’s Kevin Jennings, a former assistant deputy secretary of education in the Obama administration (2009-2011). Jennings founded GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) in 1990. More recently he was executive director of the Arcus Foundation, which advocates for LGBT rights. After graduating from Harvard in 1985, Jennings was a history teacher for 10 years.
“Right now,” Jennings told the New York Times, “immigrants are being dehumanized and demonized… We (meaning the museum) put the issue in historical and human dimensions. You learn the stories of actual families. You walk away at the end seeing these people as human beings.”
These sentiments were echoed in a press release by Merryl Snow Zegar, co-chair of the Tenement Museum board: “In the face of today’s political turmoil, Kevin will help us ensure that the museum reaches a wider audience than ever with its timely and crucial message that immigration allows us to become stronger and more dynamic than we already are as a people.”
Jennings replaces Morris Vogel, who has led the museum since 2008. He announced his retirement in January.