Elizabeth “Liz” Igra

Honorary Degrees

California State University, Sacramento

​Elizabeth “Liz" Igra was born in 1935 in Krakow, Poland. During World War II, she walked with her mother from Poland to Czechoslovakia and then to Hungary, where they went into hiding until the war ended. She lost most of her family to the atrocities of the Holocaust.

After the war, Mrs. Igra resettled in Australia and then moved to the United States. In 1977, she earned a bachelor's degree in Education with honors from California State University, Sacramento, and in 1987 she earned a master's of science in Educational Administration. She dedicated her career to education, teaching in the Elk Grove Unified School District for decades and sharing her expertise in the education of future teachers. She devoted herself to teaching others about the causes of genocide and the fragility of democracy.

In 2009, Mrs. Igra founded the Central Valley Holocaust Educators Network (CVHEN) which supports teachers to implement a Holocaust curriculum that meets state standards. Mrs. Igra is credited with creating a model that is now widely used for teaching the history of the Holocaust using young adult literature. In addition to training educators to address the wide variety of challenges presented by teaching this complex curriculum, CVHEN serves the Sacramento region by connecting Holocaust experts (children of survivors and liberators of Holocaust victims) to visit area schools and community organizations to speak about their experiences.

Mrs. Igra is also a scholar, having done extensive research about the complexities of the Holocaust. In her work at CVHEN, she created the first Holocaust library in the Sacramento region. The library contains scholarly articles, films, literature and other archival materials. Researchers can access Holocaust experts to assist with research and curriculum planning, and utilize the library's teacher collaboration space. She continues to work with people whose lives were directly touched by the Holocaust, utilizing library resources to help them uncover lost family stories through archival materials that she has curated.

As a part of CVHEN, Mrs. Igra also created the 2nd Gen Speakers Bureau, which aims to help adult children of Holocaust survivors learn about and share their parent's personal experiences, as there are few living survivors of these atrocities. Not only do these stories ensure that society does not forget the horrible events of the Holocaust, but they also help to illuminate its effect on subsequent generations.

Mrs. Igra has dedicated her life to ensuring that individuals and groups are not targeted for abuse and cruelty based on their identities. She continues to tell her own story to people of all ages, including elementary school to college-aged students, religious congregations and professional and community organizations. She inspires others with her dedication to teaching about genocide and fighting antisemitism. Her late husband, Dr. Jacob Igra, was also a Holocaust survivor. Together they had six children and several grandchildren.

In recognition of her decades of work educating youth about the horrors of the Holocaust, and being an example of courage, dignity and resistance, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Sacramento are proud to confer upon Elizabeth “Liz" Igra the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.