Forum 2016 Awards

Each year, InterAction acknowledges the contribution of individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the world's most poor and vulnerable people. Awards to be presented at Forum 2016 are as follows: 

Julia Vadala Taft Outstanding Leadership Award

The Julia Vadala Taft Outstanding Leadership Award honors outstanding and distinguished leaders in the community of U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations. The award celebrates the leadership of an individual within this community whose career and vision has transcended his or her own organization by raising the influence and profile of the U.S. NGO sector as a whole. It celebrates the very best of who we are as a sector.

World Food Prize laureate David Beckmann is one of the foremost U.S. advocates for hungry and poor people. He has been president of Bread for the World since 1991, leading large-scale and successful campaigns to strengthen U.S. political commitment to overcome hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world. Bread for the World is a U.S. Christian advocacy movement to end hunger.

Beckmann is also president of Bread for the World Institute, which provides policy analysis on hunger and strategies to end it. He founded and serves as president of the Alliance to End Hunger, which engages diverse U.S. institutions—Muslim and Jewish groups, corporations, unions, and universities—in building the political will to end hunger.

Beckmann is a Lutheran pastor as well as an economist. He earned degrees from Yale University, Christ Seminary, and the London School of Economics. Six universities have awarded him honorary doctorates. In 2010, he was named a World Food Prize laureate.

Congressional Leadership Award

The Congressional Leadership Award honors a member of Congress who has made significant contributions as a leader and advocates for U.S. foreign aid, humanitarian assistance, and/or other international, poverty-focused areas in which InterAction’s members work. 

Lindsey Graham has earned a reputation as a conservative problem-solver and one of the strongest proponents of a robust national defense. Graham is also a leader in cutting spending, reforming entitlements, and getting government out of the way so businesses can create jobs. 

Graham was elected to the United States Senate in 2002 and was re-elected in 2008 and 2014. Prior to serving in the Senate, Graham was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994.

Before being elected to Congress, Graham complied a distinguished record in the United States Air Force, retiring in June 2015 having served his country in uniform for 33 years. He retired at the rank of Colonel. 

A native South Carolinian, Graham grew up in a blue collar family in the small town of Central where his parents ran a restaurant and pool hall. The first member of his family to go to college, Graham earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of South Carolina. 

Humanitarian Award

InterAction's Humanitarian Award recognizes an individual or individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership in support of NGOs and the people they serve in the developing world. Our community’s national staff and counterparts often surmount significant obstacles to carry out their work effectively in their own home countries or regions. InterAction seeks to honor these individuals for their bravery and commitment to the most vulnerable populations in their own communities.

Raed Saleh, aged 32, leads more than 2,800 intrepid search-and-rescue volunteers as head of Syria Civil Defence. Known as “The White Helmets,” these unarmed and neutral civilians have saved more than 40,000 lives in Syria. 

Before the Syrian civil war, Raed was a businessman who sold electrical equipment. After the start of the popular protests in March 2011, Raed began organizing peaceful demonstrations in his home town Jisr Ashughour. Just weeks later, the Syrian Army entered his town, forcing him to go into hiding in Turkey. He returned to Syria in 2012, after parts of Idlib were liberated from the Syrian army. There he worked in the humanitarian field helping refugees and displaced persons.

In June 2013, he attended a civil defense training course in Idlib. Tackling the difficult exercises with grace and leadership, Raed was elected by his teammates to be their representative. Over the following 12 months, he created 20 more teams in Idlib, and was appointed as head of the Syria Civil Defence. Raed is married with two children, a 10-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son.

Disability Inclusion Award

The Disability Inclusion Award honors member agencies that have worked toward greater disability inclusion in programs/management and have expanded leadership opportunities for people with disabilities. The award recognizes our own community’s innovative efforts to promote disability inclusion as a human rights issue.

HelpAge USA assists older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, to lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. The organization does this by advocating for policy change and through implementing practical projects.  The Disability Inclusion Award in particular acknowledges HelpAge’s work in Nepal to establish a working group on older people, those with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, as part of the humanitarian coordinating system.  It also recognizes HelpAge’s leadership in a taskforce in Pakistan on older persons and people with disabilities.  In Ukraine, HelpAge is cited for providing leadership on a technical working group on ageing and disability to coordinate data collection and research.  HelpAge is also acknowledged for its 2014 report with Handicap International “Hidden victims of the Syrian crisis: disabled, inured and older refugees,” based upon work in Jordan and Lebanon. 

Effective Assistance Photography Award

InterAction’s photography contest honors a photographer whose provocative photos focus on the incredible humanitarian and development work done in the field. The photographer's work illustrates innovative, effective and inspiring efforts in international relief and development.

Since studying at the Photographic Association of Dum Dum in Calcutta, India, Abhijit Dey has received many honorable distinctions in international photography and has served as judge in national and international contests around the globe.

Some of Dey’s achievements include winning National Geographic’s “People” grand prize in 2008 and receiving both the Artist of the International Federation of Photographic Art award and the Excellence of the International Federation of Photographic Art award in 2012. In addition to the winning photograph, “Happy with their Education” another one of Dey’s submissions in InterAction’s 14th Annual Photo Contest, “Shining light for Hope,” received an honorable mention.

“Happy with their Education” features girls who attend a village school in India. According to Dey, the image highlighted the children’s joy and celebrated their ability to better “know the world and gain knowledge,” despite their low-income environment.  In addition to education, the school provides care and meals for the children.

Security Advisory Group Distinguished Achievement Award

The InterAction Security Advisory Group Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes exceptional performance by NGO security professionals, particularly those who significantly contribute to NGOs' abilities to protect their personnel, assets, information, or operations overseas.

Davidson Jonah joined ChildFund in his home country of Sierra Leone in 1985 as a project officer. He was promoted to National Director in Sierra Leone in 1997 and remained there until 2003.In 2003, he was sent to Chad as an emergency team leader. Her would assume the role of emergency team leader again following the 2004 Tsunami in Aceh. Upon his return to Africa in 2006, Davidson was named the first regional field operations manager for Africa and then promoted to Regional Field Operations Director in 2008. He was promoted to his current role as Global Field Operations Director in 2010. 

He has dedicated his 30 years with ChildFund to ensuing our work is undertaken in a safe and secure environment. It is for this reason that he has been awarded the 2016 InterAction Security Advisory Group Distinguished Security Achievement award for his lifetime commitment to safe program implementation.


View 2015 Award Winners

Forum 2016 Sponsors

UPSPlan InternationalZakat FoundationPlanet AidSIT Graduate InstituteNCBA CLUSATzu ChiMercy CorpsGlobal CommunitiesIslamic ReliefPublic Interest RegistrySave the ChildrenSolidarity CenterSolidarity Center