Name: Robert J. Kelly
Community: Westchester, New York
Occupation: Executive Director, Westchester Intelligence Center
ADL Role: Member, ADL’s Law Enforcement Advisory Council & participant, ADL’s Counter-Terrorism Seminar in Israel
1. What is your earliest memory of ADL?
I recall with pristine clarity sitting in a high school freshman social studies class as our teacher imparted a lesson about World War II and the events of the Holocaust. What made that class memorable was not so much the history lesson but the events that followed when a student made an inappropriate and offensive comment about the Holocaust. Our teacher stopped her instruction immediately, followed by an extended silence that seemingly stunned the class with a greater impact than did the inappropriate comment. In a calm and deliberate manner, she began her instruction again. She did not share a history lesson but rather the personal implications the Holocaust had for her and her family. She spoke about the struggles that followed and what required to be defended in the decades that followed. She introduced to our class for the first time the Anti-Defamation League and the proactive role it played to fight injustice, prejudice and hatred and how it addressed comments like those made earlier in the classroom. It was among the best lessons a teacher could have ever imparted to students.
2. How did you first become involved in ADL?
I first became involved with ADL as part of my professional background in law enforcement. In the last five years, I have assumed the role of Director for the Westchester Intelligence Center, under the auspices of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office. I was recently fortunate to have participated in ADL’s counter-terrorism seminar in Israel earlier this year. It was among the most significant and valuable training opportunities I have attended in my entire career. The information and best practices gleaned from that seminar have already been brought back to law enforcement in the U.S. for possible implementation stateside.
3. How do you envision ADL’s Centennial Theme Imagine a World Without Hate™?
Hate crimes are not new to me. Years ago, my cousin was brutally murdered for no other reason than because of a hate crime. Thirty-years in law enforcement have exposed me at times to the best in the human condition and to the worst, and unfortunately, hate crimes have populated that time-line without interruption. The ADL’s efforts to address a world without hate is a well placed undertaking that addresses the core responsibilities we all share to one another. Only when we humanize the damage hate incurs can a correction follow and an awakening follow to the possibilities of a world without hate.