Kim Simon – formerly Managing Director of the USC Shoah Foundation – has passed away following a battle with Multiple System Atrophy, a rare degenerative disease.
“We are heartbroken that Kim Simon is no longer with us,” says Aegis CEO Dr James Smith. “Kim was a dedicated and brilliant partner and colleague of the Aegis Trust from the start of our collaboration with USC Shoah Foundation. But though she is gone, her work leaves our field with an invaluable legacy.”
Joining the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation soon after it was established by Steven Spielberg in 1994, Kim became an international production coordinator as the Foundation gathered over 50,000 testimonies from Holocaust survivors and eyewitnesses. By 2008 Kim was interim Executive Director, becoming Managing Director when Aegis’ co-founder Dr Stephen Smith joined the team as Executive Director the following year.
Kim guided the development of IWitness, USC Shoah Foundation’s award-winning online platform using testimony to educate students on how to become better global citizens. She also worked closely with Aegis’ team in Rwanda, both to gather testimony from survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi and to bring IWitness to Rwandan students through the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
In 2011, USC Shoah Foundation provided training in Los Angeles for Aegis’ documentation team. “I first met Kim in May 2011,” says Claver Irakoze, Manager of the Genocide Archive of Rwanda, which is based at the Kigali Genocide Memorial. “A courageous and passionate professional who was always interested in understanding people’s experience, she had a visionary view of what memory preservation and education should truly be,” he says. “Under her leadership, you could see the results of USC Shoah Foundation’s investment into iWitness. She lived a meaningful and impactful life and generations will benefit from her legacy.”
In 2013, the USC Shoah Foundation integrated into its Visual History Archive a collection of testimonies gathered by Aegis in Rwanda; the first set of testimonies outside the Holocaust to be added. In 2018, the Kigali Genocide Memorial became the first location in Africa making the entire Visual History Archive available to students on site through the IWitness platform. Today, the collaboration which Kim Simon did so much to build continues.
“On behalf of the whole team at Aegis, I want to extend our deepest condolences to Kim Simon’s family and friends, and to all who are part of the USC Shoah Foundation family,” says Aegis’ Executive Director Freddy Mutanguha. “We share your loss, but we also celebrate Kim’s incredible achievements. Her lifelong commitment to gathering and preserving Holocaust and genocide survivor testimony mean that present and future generations will be so much better equipped to learn the human reality of this past and counter the drivers of hatred, building resilience against division.”