Tess Wise founded the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center (HMREC) of Central Florida in 1980 and worked for more than 17 years in a volunteer position as executive director of the Center.
Mrs. Wise was born in Poland and lived there until 1945. She escaped from a concentration camp in 1943 when she was 17 years old. She and nine surviving relatives smuggled themselves into the American zone in Germany, where the United Nations relief organizations and American Jewish organizations cared for them. Since coming to the United States in 1947, Mrs. Wise has made it her life's work to make sure the lessons of the Holocaust are never forgotten.
Mrs. Wise presented a proposal to the Federation and Valencia Community College to initiate Holocaust education in the public schools. From the inception of the Holocaust project, HMREC has been a focal point for national conferences on the Holocaust and on terrorism, a speakers' bureau and a library.
Mrs. Wise has developed and implemented educational programs and curricula, which is now included in the Library of Congress and is in use throughout the country. She has organized an annual film and lecture series and consults in colleges and universities nationally. Mrs. Wise's main goal is to create educational tools that help shape a just and moral community.
Mrs. Wise and the Holocaust Center were instrumental in helping pass state legislature mandating teaching of the Holocaust in all Florida classrooms.