Eradicate Hate summit grew from Tree of Life tragedy

The first Eradicate Hate Global Summit later this month — nearly three years after the Tree of Life massacre in Squirrel Hill — will have a strong Pitt presence, including its co-chair, chancellor emeritus Mark Nordenberg, along with some big-name speakers, like former President George W. Bush.

The summit grew out of conversations just after the 2018 shootings between Nordenberg, who now heads Pitt’s Institute of Politics, and Laura Ellsworth, global partner-in-charge of community initiatives for the law firm Jones Day who also is co-chairing the event. Both became actively involved in plans to forge an appropriate and enduring response to the Tree of Life shootings. Nordenberg also served on the committee appointed by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh to distribute undesignated donations received in the wake of the attack.

Nordenberg told the Post-Gazette this week that he and Ellsworth talked in 2018 about the need “to do something to make certain that Pittsburgh becomes better known for the way that it responded to this hate-inspired attack rather than simply as a place where the attack occurred. Then she shared her idea with me, which was to create the biggest and best anti-hate conference in the world.”

The summit — from Oct. 18 to 20 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh — is “bringing together the people and organizations from around the world who are having the most significant impact in combating hate, preventing hate crimes, and providing justice for the victims of such crimes,” according to the event’s website. Organizers are planning to hold the conference annually near the date of the Tree of Life shooting.

The event’s steering committee also includes Kathleen Blee, dean of the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences and co-director of the Pitt-Carnegie Mellon joint Collaboratory Against Hate formed earlier this year, and Geovette Washington, Pitt’s chief legal officer. Blee, who has studied white supremacism for more than 30 years, also will participate in several of the panel discussions.

The purpose of the conference, according to the website is:

  • To share the best practices that have been developed by those who are experienced in the use of rule-of-law solutions — including the use of law to prevent the misuse of new technologies that are being used to promote hate and foster violence, while also respecting the First Amendment protections of free speech and privacy.

  • To increase the visibility of this work so that greater numbers of victims are encouraged to seek help from the justice system.

  • To maintain broad public vigilance against hate crimes by highlighting the diversity of its victims.

  • To create focused working groups that will team between conferences to develop specific solutions that will be presented at subsequent annual conferences.

The conference also will each year honor those who lost their lives or were wounded in the Tree of Life attack, including law enforcement officers

In addition to President Bush, keynote speakers include the first secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, and the current holder of that office, Alejandro N. Mayorkas; and Major Garrett of CBS News and Fareed Zakaria of CNN. Other keynote speakers, which are subject to change, are Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League; Alice Wairimu Nderitu,

special adviser on the prevention of genocide, United Nations; Gary Locke, former governor of Washington, U.S. commerce secretary and ambassador to China; and Theodor Meron,

president and judge, International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.

To request an invitation to the event, contact If you are unable to join in person, view the live streaming options here.

— Susan Jones


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