To achieve the goal of building a stronger IWA brand, to deliver consistently excellent special award events, and to conserve volunteer power, the
IWA Board of Directors recently voted to consolidate our two awards, Woman Extraordinaire and Rising Voice of Woman , into one premier award event each fall. The new Woman Extraordinaire award will retain the essence of both, recognizing either a Chicago- area woman who has made an outstanding contribution in her field and in the international arena or a woman who is working internationally to advance international human rights.
In the past, the Woman Extraordinaire has been awarded to these exceptional women, among others:
To view the entire list of Woman Extraordinaire and Rising Voice of Woman recipients, CLICK HERE
Vicki Escarra is Global CEO of Opportunity International, the premier non-profit financial services organization for the poor. Escarra leads a network of 20,000 staff members and 30,000 donors who are helping 14.3 million clients in 24 countries work their way out of poverty. More than 95 percent of Opportunity’s loan clients are women who would otherwise never have access to financial services because of legal and cultural gender inequities in most developing nations. Escarra was formerly President and CEO of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. Prior to that, Escarra rose to Chief Marketing Officer at Delta Air Lines, becoming one of the highest-ranking women in the aviation industry at the time.
Karen Koning AbuZayd currently serves as a Commissioner of the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, informing the United Nations on the refugee problems arising out the current conflict in the Middle East. She began
her humanitarian career in the Sudan in 1981, dealing with Ugandan, Chadian and Ethiopian refugees fleeing from war and famine in their own countries. From 1991 to 1993 Ms. AbuZayd directed the South African repatriation operation and the Kenyan-Somali cross
-border operation. She was Chief of Mission for two years during the Bosnian war—four million war-affected people were kept alive by UN’s airlift and convoy activities. From 2005 until 2010 she was Under Secretary-General as UNRWA Commissioner-General. Based in Gaza, she helped to oversee the education, health, social servi
ces and microenterprise programs for four million Palestinian refugees.
is an international marketing, communications and public affairs/advocacy consultant. She launched the (RED) AIDS organization in 2006 for its founders, Bono and Bobby Shriver to help provide a sustainable flow of money from the private sector to fight AIDS. To-date, (RED) has generated $250M+ and is the largest business sector contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the investor of (RED) money in African AIDS programs).
Funmi Olopade, M.D. Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago; breast cancer specialist; 2005 MacArthur Foundation fellow.
Connie K. Duckworth Trailblazing business leader and founder of ARZU
STUDIO HOPE, an organization empowering women, families and
communities in Afghanistan through its unique social business model.
Marjorie Craig Benton Lifelong activist working on behalf of women and children and for community development, she also worked extensively on arms control and disarmament. Among numerous civic posts, served as Ambassador to UNICEF, and is currently involved with Partners in Health, which seeks to raise the standard of care for the poor worldwide.
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt As Vice President for Global Corporate Citizenship at Chicago-based Boeing Company, she led a network of U.S. and international community investors to address the needs of selected communities around the world.
IWA has also presented the Rising Voice of Woman Award to the following outstanding and inspirational women:
First woman President of Ireland; former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Realizing Rights
Diplomat and educator; U.S. Ambassador to Kenya when the embassy was bombed by Al-Qaeda; State Department official, who worked to prevent the genocide in Rwanda; long focused on improving the status of women, especially in developing countries.
Founder and Executive Director of Senegal-based Tostan, a non-governmental organization dedicated to community education and empowerment in several African countries. It is perhaps best known for virtually ending female genital cutting and forced child marriage in those countries.
Human rights activist and former police investigator who worked with Human Rights Watch in Bosnia to expose the abuse committed against young girls forced into prostitution and used as sex slaves by U.S. military contractors, other police, and various international organizations.