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Due to the sensitivities involved in this discussion of events surrounding 9/11, this program is intended for high school age students and older. This discussion contains commentary and opinions that do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Discovery Education, Inc.

Moderator - Paula Zahn

A 30-year news veteran, journalist Paula Zahn is currently the executive producer and host of one of Investigation Discovery's top series, On the Case with Paula Zahn.  Before joining I.D., Paula anchored for CNN where she was based in the network's New York bureau and hosted the primetime show, Paula Zahn Now. Prior to CNN, Zahn was the host of The Edge with Paula Zahn, a daily news program on Fox News Channel. She joined Fox in 1999 as anchor of its evening news program, The Fox Report.
Previously she spent ten years at CBS News, where she co-hosted CBS Morning News and anchored the CBS Evening News Saturday Edition. Earlier, Zahn served as co-anchor of World News This Morning and anchored news segments of Good Morning America on ABC.
Throughout her career, Zahn has interviewed dignitaries and newsmakers, including former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, Cuban President Fidel Castro, former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, first lady Betty Ford, civil rights leader Stokely Carmichael, and human rights activist Winnie Mandela.
Zahn has won nine Emmy Awards, the National Commission of Working Women Broadcasting Award and an AWRT Award for reporting on gender bias in education.

Opening Remarks

Lee Ielpi

Lee Ielpi is a retired member of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) where he served in an elite firefighting unit in Brooklyn, New York. His two sons also became firefighters. On September 11, 2001, Lee’s oldest son, Jonathan, called to tell his dad that his company was being sent to the World Trade Center site. That afternoon, Lee searched the site for victims along with hundreds of other recovery workers. His son’s body was found after 3 months. Lee stayed on to help and became a leader in September 11th Families’ Association. 

In 2004, Lee co-founded the Tribute WTC Visitor Center so that visitors from around the world could learn more about the attacks of 9/11 and their aftermath from those who experienced those events.


Ada Dolch

Ada was the principal of the High School for Leadership and Public Service, a school located one block south of the World Trade Center.  The school’s mission is to teach students how to give back to their communities by public service. The students in the school came from all 5 boroughs of New York City and they took subway trains that let them off in the concourse of the World Trade Center to get to school.  A primary election was scheduled for September 11th and that morning the lobby of the school was a voting site for the neighborhood.  Suddenly, a student ran in with tears running down his face and said he had just seen a plane strike one of the towers.   As more people came into the lobby in shock, Principal Dolch asked which tower had been hit because she knew her sister Wendy worked in an office at the top of the North Tower.

For months after the attacks the blocks around the World Trade Center site were sealed off. Students had to relocate and share another school building further uptown until February 2002.  When the students could return to their school, Principal Dolch told them that they were “history makers”. She didn’t want them to walk away with hatred in their hearts, she wanted them to look at the ways people supported each other after September 11th, how people came forward and did whatever they could to help others to heal and rebuild after the tragedy. In honor of her sister’s memory, Ada Dolch helped to build a school in Afghanistan in the beliefe that education is the answer to global peace.

Sophia Tzemis

Sophia lives and works on Long Island, but grew up on Staten Island. She has two children, who keep her very busy, and also works as a financial advisor. On September 11th, Sophia was working downtown in the World Financial Center, and her youngest sister Jennifer worked on the 92nd floor of the North Tower. Jennifer had just received a promotion and her office windows faced the East River. She didn’t make it out. Sophia believes that the immediately response her family received from friends, neighbors and strangers truly helped them to deal with the horror of the events, and she thinks of volunteering at Tribute WTC Visitor Center is an opportunity to help others understand that sense of community outreach.

Sophia joined Tribute WTC Visitor Center as a volunteer in January, 2010.

Bill Spade

Bill drove a supplementary vehicle to the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th; he did not respond on the rig. That is why he is the only member of Rescue 5 on duty that day to survive the attacks. The injuries Bill sustained on the 11th forced him to retire from the Fire Department.

Bill has enormous warmth and great story-telling ability. As a docent at Tribute WTC Visitor Center since September 2007, he leads and supports tours and is a very popular guide in both roles. Bill can usually be found at Tribute WTC Visitor Center on weekday mornings, though sometimes he needs to leave right after the tour to pick up his small son from school.

Father Ray Nobiletti

Father Nobiletti ministered to the fallen and wounded on September 11th at the triage center in front of the Hilton Millennium hotel before being caught in the collapse of the south tower. Raymond Nobiletti is a Catholic priest born in Brooklyn and serving in Chinatown, New York City since 1991. He has pastoral and administrative experience in Hong Kong and as a Maryknoll missionary priest in other parts of the world.