InterAction Awards: Honoring Leaders Who Empower and Assist Vulnerable Communities around the World

“United We Stand” is the theme of this year’s InterAction Forum and a bedrock principle of our community. InterAction and its members are committed internationalists, working across borders to do good in the world. We share a deep belief that staying globally connected improves human wellbeing and makes each of us more effective in the global quest for a better world. Choosing to be united across the incredible diversity of the international NGO community is a core philosophy shaping how we engage with the world and a source of strength in these uncertain times.

This year’s InterAction award winners embody the value of being united. They are leaders who bring us together, courageous individuals who stand up for principles and build bridges in times of division. They call on all of us to speak with a united voice and to live up to our values.

Neal Keny-Guyer, Chief Executive Officer of Mercy Corps, is the recipient of our highest lifetime award, the Julia Vadala Taft Outstanding Leadership Award. The award honors outstanding leaders in the community of U.S.-based international NGOs who have committed themselves to help strengthen the broader sector.

Neal draws on a deep understanding of the complex global issues we are facing today to promote vital solutions from which our entire community learns. Through his bold and innovative leadership of Mercy Corps since 1994, and his leadership on the InterAction Board of Directors, as a member since 2011 and Chair since 2013, he has demonstrated a commitment to advancing our sector. We are lucky to have our friend Neal as a leader in the community to help advance our missions and values.

The international NGO community works together with allies in government who champion U.S. foreign aid and humanitarian assistance. U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) exemplified this partnership as the lead sponsor of the bipartisan Global Food Security Act of 2016. This piece of legislation took tremendous steps to ensuring that the U.S. government will be able to comprehensively and effectively promote global food and nutrition security. The Act also created new opportunities for partnership between NGOs and the U.S. government.

We thank Senator Casey this year with the Congressional Leadership Award for his success in inspiring a bipartisan solution to pressing issues and for his overall service.

Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center, and Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, are the co-recipients of InterAction’s Humanitarian Award. They are the first ever honorees of the award to receive recognition for their work focused on domestic policies and issues. Their efforts and advocacy are essential to uphold the legacy of refugee resettlement in this country in the wake of the executive orders on immigrants and refugees.

Refugee resettlement is a vital service that the NGO community provides and Marielena and Omar ensure that we can continue pursuing this work, even in the face of adversity.  

We honor Judith (Judy) Heumann with InterAction’s Disability Inclusion Award. Judy has been a lifelong advocate for inclusion of persons with disabilities both here in the U.S. and abroad. Judy served as the first Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State from 2010 – 2017. She is an innovator who has continuously found new and vital avenues through her leadership and advocacy, ensuring that all sectors work toward greater disability inclusion throughout their programs and management.

Mohammed Shoaib Alamyar, Operations Room Supervisor for CARE Afghanistan (Pamlarana), demonstrated immense bravery through his instrumental role in assuring the safety of 11 members of CARE’s staff when a truck bomb detonated outside of the CARE compound in Kabul and three armed men laid siege to the compound. We honor him with the Security Advisory Group Distinguished Achievement Award for his exceptional performance, driven by concern for his colleagues, while putting himself at immense personal risk. We thank him for his commitment and courage.

This year’s award winners are leaders and models for all of us in the NGO community. They demonstrate that through our commitment to our values, we can withstand systematic shifts and immediate shocks. We can stand united during these uncertain times and draw strength from each other.