Mary Pat Higgins

Mary Pat Higgins photo by Can Türkyilmaz

After working 22 years at The Hockaday School, Lake Highlands resident Mary Pat Higgins left her post to become president and CEO of the Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance. She became involved with the Downtown Dallas-based museum as a board member years ago because she wanted to educate schoolchildren about the Holocaust, she says, and also because she hopes to bring attention to modern-day prejudice. She embraced the opportunity “to really impact people in the Dallas community to stand up when they see something unjust happening.” Heading the Holocaust museum won’t be easy. Higgins is leaving a familiar and comfortable position for a demanding new role, she says. “A lot of the nonprofits in the entertainment section are struggling with the economy. The number of admissions at the museum has decreased. It will really be a challenge,” she says. “Hockaday is very established; it will be 100 years old next year. They have a very fixed and established business model. It’s scary to move to an organization with a much smaller staff and financial resources.” To be impactful, the Holocaust museum needs a bigger space and the money with which to build it, she says, and she will be in charge of raising those funds. Higgins is willing to do the tough work because she believes it is essential that Holocaust history be passed down to new generations. “Having the survivors come here and talk about their personal experiences makes it so real. What is also admirable is, I’ve heard three of them now tell their stories, but from positions of hope. I think so many of them were so grateful to have another chance at life. They have been so resilient. We need to figure out how to best convey their messages when they are gone.”