In the wake of the Tree of Life shooting in 2018, communities in Pittsburgh began looking for ways to heal from and combat hate-based violence. That search led community leaders in Pittsburgh to form a global conference that aims to “eradicate hate” through education and action.

“Eradicating hate, when you say it initially, sounds like something that is impossible to do. We’ve had hate as long as we’ve had human beings,” said Chuck Moellenberg, president of the Eradicate Hate Global Summit. “So the question is, ‘What can I do that will really make a difference?’”

Now in its third year, the Eradicate Hate Global Summit continues to bring together professionals and leaders from different fields to lead conversations grounded in ending hate-fueled violence worldwide. This year the summit will run from Sept. 27-29 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and includes a roster of over 300 academics, global leaders, law enforcement officials and more.

“The purpose of the summit is to provide a forum for leading experts around the world and for many different professions and sectors to come together, exchange ideas and then develop and deploy effective solutions to reduce hate-motivated violence,” said Moellenberg.

Meryl Ainsman, the secretary of the summit, said to confront hate-based violence, the summit aims to educate and inform attendants about hate in its many forms. This year’s summit will feature discussions on violence against the LGBTQ+ community, identifying red flag behaviors among youths and video game violence.

“The only way to combat anything is education,” said Ainsman. “Whatever the subject matter is, if you don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no way you can talk rationally or do anything about it unless you really have intimate knowledge.”

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Ainsman said outside of the plenary sessions hosted throughout the summit, over 20 working groups will meet in private to discuss targeted initiatives. Groups focused on education, sports, the military and more meet year-round to address hate in their areas, according to Ainsman.

The working groups are part of what goes into making sure the summit goes “beyond just talk,” Moellenberg said.

“The working groups are given a specific project, what we call a ‘deliverable’ to turn an idea into a practical, concrete action item,” said Moellenberg. “It could be a best practices manual, it could be some sort of program, but it’s a specific action item that communities or professions can then use back in their own communities.”

Following the Tree of Life shooting, which prompted a wave of community activism,  attorney Laura Ellsworth and University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Emeritus Mark Nordenberg, current co-board chairs of the summit, formed a group to discuss how to combat antisemitism. As Ainsman and many others joined the group, the ideas expanded into confronting all hate-based violence, which laid the groundwork for the Eradicate Hate Global Summit.

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The summit first took place in 2021 and has since become a nonprofit organization as of January.

“Originally, at the very, very beginning, it was really to combat antisemitism,” said Ainsman. “But as we started meeting and talking, we realized that unfortunately, there are many, many identity groups that are victims of violence-fueled hate.”

When the summit first launched it featured 100 speakers — including George W. Bush — and hundreds of attendees, according to Moellenberg. This year he said there will be more than 350 speakers, with an expected “uptick in attendance” as well.

Ellsworth asked Michael Bernstein, who serves as chair of the interim governance committee of the reimagined Tree of Life, to participate in a steering committee to help shape the summit’s focus last year. He said hearing from survivors of hate crimes is among the most direct ways to educate people on the harms of hate-based violence.

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“The impact has to be how we change the world we live in moving forward,” said Bernstein, who last year participated on a summit panel addressing survivor testimonies. “So I think if anything, it gives heightened significance to turn the book, turn the page on this episode. Now, how do we really affect change?”

Moellenberg said unlike other conferences that tend to focus on individual sectors, the summit hopes to bring together people from all different perspectives and “put them all in a room together to exchange ideas, to come up with new solutions that we hope will make a difference and reduce all of this hate-motivated violence that we are seeing.”

Ainsman said she doesn’t want Pittsburgh to be defined by its darkest day.

“We want Pittsburgh to be known as the place not of the worst antisemitic act in the history of the United States,” said Ainsman. “We want to be known for the good work we’re doing and not for the terrible thing that happened here.”

Guests can purchase single or multi-day passes online at the Eradicate Hate Global Summit website. Organizers will also livestream the summit for free.

Betul Tuncer and James Paul are students at the University of Pittsburgh serving as Pittsburgh Media Partnership interns this semester.

James Paul can be reached at

Betul Tuncer can be reached at

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Betul Tuncer is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in media and professional communications and legal studies with a certificate in digital media. A longtime Pittsburgh resident, Betul has...