Gugulethu Moyo
Gugulethu Moyo
EducationUniversity of Zimbabwe
Alma materUniversity of Oxford
  • Lawyer
  • Executive director of Tucson’s Jewish History Museum
EmployerTucson’s Jewish History Museum/Holocaust History Center
Spouse(s)Joshua Polacheck
Parent(s)Father: Muna Ndulo

Gugulethu Moyo is a Zimbabwean lawyer. She has written columns for The Guardian and was the International Bar Association (IBA) Programme Lawyer.[1] Moyo is, as far as anyone knows, the first Jew of Color to lead an American Jewish museum.


Early Life

She is a Gukurahundi survivor having fled home in 1983 and 1984.[2]


Her father, Muna Ndulo, is a professor at Cornell Law School. He is an internationally recognized scholar on post-conflict constitution-making and served as a legal advisor to United Nations missions in South Africa at the end of apartheid, in Kosovo, East Timor, Afghanistan, and other places.[2]


She is married to Joshua Polacheck. Moyo's father-in-law is the late John Polacheck, a longtime volunteer who had also been involved in the efforts to restore the Jewish History Museum building, then known as the Stone Avenue Temple, which is the oldest synagogue building in Arizona.[2]


She earned a bachelor of law degree from the University of Zimbabwe in 1996. Gugulethu Moyo also holds a bachelor of law degree from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.[2]


After serving as executive assistant to the CEO at Zimbabwe’s mining industry pension fund, Moyo earned another bachelor of law degree from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

She was in-house counsel at Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe[3], coordinating a team of lawyers challenging the government’s campaign to censor and shut down independent media.

Moyo was physically assaulted by the police whilst she was still a lawyer for the parent company of the Daily News. On 18 March 2003 Philimon Bulawayo, a staff photographer with the Daily News, was arrested while photographing street protests in Harare.

Bulawayo was allegedly beaten by police at the time of his arrest and again later when he was taken to the Glen View police station. Later that day, Moyo went to the police station to represent Bulawayo and inquire as to the reasons for his detention.

While there, she was reportedly physically assaulted by Kelvin Chadenyika and Jocelyn Chiwenga the ex-wife of Constantino Chiwenga. This beating allegedly took place outside of the police station and in full view of several police officers who took no steps to end the assault. Moyo was then held for several hours at the police station before being transferred to the Harare Central Prison.

While en route to the prison she was allegedly beaten again by five unidentified men with a truncheon. Once at the prison Moyo was imprisoned for two nights and denied access to both a lawyer and a doctor. She was released on 20 March 2003 without charge.

The incident was criticised by the ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (CIJL).[3]

She became a program lawyer and media relations advisor for the International Bar Association in London, United Kingdom. Five years later she launched Media Defence, the first legal aid organization dedicated to defending media freedom worldwide.

Tucson’s Jewish History Museum

In January 2021 Gugulethu Moyo was appointed the executive director of Tucson’s Jewish History Museum/Holocaust History Center in the United States of America.

In November 2020, the museum’s board of directors unanimously approved her appointment as executive director to succeed Sol Davis. Before her elevation to the post of executive director, Moyo had been operations director at the JHM since July 2019.[2]


Gugulethu Moyo resigned as the executive director of Tucson’s Jewish History Museum on 26 April 2021.

Moyo resigned ahead of a conference for staff members at American Jewish museums. She had planned to talk about how to cultivate leaders from marginalized groups in museums, drawing on her experience as the first Jew of colour to head a Jewish museum, on a panel called “Space Makers and Risk Takers.”

Moyo publicly accused the museum's board of dysfunction fueled by racism and sexism, while Tucson’s Jewish History Museum board threatened to sue her for allegedly leaking private information.

Moyo’s resignation came three days after the board gave her 72 hours to own up to unspecified mistakes as a condition of continuing to work together. Speaking through a public relations firm, the incoming board chair of the museum, Eric Schindler, the CEO of a local social services nonprofit, rejected Moyo’s allegations of racism and sexism.

Two days after Moyo submitted her resignation by email, the board’s attorney sent her a letter that outlines several instances of what the board says represented misconduct.

The letter accused Moyo of mishandling the hiring of several employees; two employees were not added to the payroll and weren’t given tax forms to fill out, according to the letter. Moyo said she had informed the board about the paperwork problem to ask for help and that she got no support addressing the “staffing crisis” she had inherited. The letter also accused Moyo of working to “use confidential JHM materials to pursue a negative publicity campaign,” rescinds an offer for a 90-day payout and threatens a lawsuit if Moyo does not fulfil multiple conditions, including surrendering museum communications and records.

The day after she tendered her resignation in Tucson, she was accepted as a board member of the 70-institution Council of American Jewish Museums during the group’s annual conference, in 2021 titled “Upheaval” as an allusion to its focus on how participants were adapting to recent societal convulsions.[4]


  1. Zimbabwe media work, IBA, Published: No Date Given, Retrieved: January 15, 2021
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Phyllis Braun,Human rights lawyer appointed as new Jewish History Museum director, Arizona Jewish Post, Published: January 13, 2021, Retrieved: January 15, 2021
  3. 3.0 3.1 Zimbabwe: lawyer attacked in recent wave of state-sponsored violence, ICJ, Published: April 3, 2003, Retrieved: January 15, 2021
  4. ASAF SHALEV, First Jew of color to lead an American Jewish museum resigns, citing gender and racial discrimination, The Jewish News of North California, Published: April 30, 2021, Retrieved: May 3, 2021