Selection Committee

2014 Grinnell Prize Selection Committe

Grinnell College has assembled a diverse selection committee to evaluate nominees for the 2014 Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize. Nominations for the 2014 Grinnell Prize are due by November 8, 2013. Two winners will be announced in Fall 2014.

Appointed by the College’s president, Raynard S. Kington, M.D., Ph.D., the 2014 selection committee members – largely Iowa-based – are all recognized individuals who work for social change in various capacities. Their backgrounds, accomplishments, and experiences reflect the diversity in both Grinnell and the state. These members include one representative each from the College’s faculty, student body, alumni, staff and trustees, plus prominent individuals not formally affiliated with Grinnell.

In announcing the selection committee, President Kington, stated, “We are delighted these exceptionally talented, experienced, and socially conscious individuals have agreed to be selection committee members for the Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize. In creating this prize program, we seek to recognize young individuals who embody our core values and organizations that share our commitment to change the world for the better. I am confident our selection committee members will bring extraordinary knowledge, sensitivity, and passion to that goal.”

Chris Hunter

Committee Chair

A professor of sociology at Grinnell College, Chris Hunter's academic interests include the intersection of psychological and sociological social psychology, the organizational analysis of non-profit organizations, and deviance and criminology. He served as Grinnell College's coordinator of the American Sociological Association's Minority Opportunities through School Transformation Program, as a Grinnell College faculty representative on the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Committee on Minority Concerns, and on the boards of directors of Mid-Iowa Community Action and the Grinnell public library. Chris received his bachelor's degree from Brown University and completed his Ph.D. in sociology at Princeton University.

Meg Jones Bair

Director of donor relations Meg Jones Bair works to provide individualized stewardship to Grinnell College's supporters. Meg has served in a variety of positions in the Development and Alumni Relations office the last 17 years and brings to the selection committee her experience working with the extended Grinnell community—alumni, parents, trustees, community members, and more. Meg received her undergraduate degree from Centre College and her master's in higher education administration from Florida State University. Meg has also served as chairperson of the Poweshiek County Foster Care Review Board and a member of the Grinnell College Collection Committee.

Karla Erickson

Karla Erickson is associate professor and chair of sociology at Grinnell College. Karla is a feminist ethnographer of labor. She studies interaction and community in market exchanges. Her first book, The Hungry Cowboy, was about a Cheers-like restaurant, and her second single-authored book How We Die Now studies how residents and workers in a Midwestern elder community manage the challenges of longer lives and slower deaths. Karla serves on the board of Grinnell Regional Medical Center and Grinnell Community Day Care and Preschool. She received her Ph.D. in the Department of American Studies with a minor in Feminist Studies at the University of Minnesota in 2004, her M.A. in Liberal Studies from Hamline University in 1998 and her B.A. in English and Women's Studies at Illinois Wesleyan in 1995.

Julie Gosselink

Julie Gosselink is the president, CEO, and chair of the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation in Grinnell. In addition, she serves on the board of the Ahrens Park Foundation. Julie holds a M.A. in philanthropy and nonprofit development and B.A. in geography from the University of Northern Iowa. She has worked for the Foundation since 2001 with prior work experience in the financial services and sales industries. Julie has been involved with other local organizations at the board level including the Galaxy Youth Center, Grinnell Chamber of Commerce, Grinnell Regional Medical Center Foundation, Iowa Council of Foundations, and Mayflower Community Foundation. She also serves as managing partner on behalf of the Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation for the Strand Theater, L.L.C. and West Broad Investors, L.L.C. Julie is co-author of Nonprofit Collaboration in Grinnell: A Case Study.

Kristi Knous

Kristi Knous is president and COO of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, where she is responsible for all foundation operations. She formerly served as the Community Foundation's vice president of donor relations and community investment, leading the foundation's grantmaking and community investment programs. Previously Kristi worked as a child life specialist at Blank Children's Hospital and spoke nationally on family-centered care and advocacy issues. Kristi also serves on the boards of Bravo Greater Des Moines, Midwest Housing Equity Group, and the Iowa State University Foundation Women and Philanthropy Advisory Committee. An Iowa native, Kristi graduated from Iowa State University and received a M.P.A. and certificate in business management from Drake University.

Mary Kramer

Mary Kramer is a former Iowa state senator with special interests in education, economic development, and health care. She was elected Assistant Minority Leader in 1992 and President in 1997, becoming the first independently elected woman to fill the post. In 2003 Kramer was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean; she was confirmed by the United States Senate and served from 2004 to 2006. An Iowa native, she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in piano performance and a Master of Arts degree in education, also from the University of Iowa.  Kramer has served on the Board of the Directors for the State Legislative Leaders Foundation and was the Chairman of the Board for the Senate President’s Forum.  She is also a lifetime member of the Society for Human Resource Management in Iowa and received the Society’s highest national award in June 1996. In August 2009, Kramer was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame.

Thomas Neil '14

Thomas Neil is president of the Grinnell College student body. He has participated and driven for several student-led Alternative Break service trips, and led a group in March 2013 to the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. A former varsity soccer player, Thomas currently serves on the College’s Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights Committee and is a campus technology consultant. Thomas spent the summer of 2013 in intensive Arabic study and traveling in Oman thanks to a scholarship from the Sultanate of the Gulf nation. Additionally, the summer of 2012 he worked on policing issues in New York City at the non-profit Urban Justice Center. Thomas is a Political Science and German double major with a concentration in Policy Studies, and hopes to continue putting his languages and global interests to use once he leaves Grinnell.

Peggy Saika

Peggy Saika is the president and executive director of the Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. Previously, Peggy was the founding executive director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network and executive director of the Asian Law Caucus.  Spanning a 30-year period of community involvement, Peggy is a co-founder of the Asian Women's Shelter, Asians/Pacific Islanders for Choice, the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium and the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum. She has served on the board of numerous organizations including Equal Rights Advocates, Progressive Assets Management and the Alston/Bannerman National Fellowship Program.  She is the past chairperson of the New World Foundation Board of Directors and The California Wellness Foundation. Peggy is also a trustee of The San Francisco Foundation. In 2008 she was awarded the Leadership, Equity, and Diversity (LEAD) Award from Women & Philanthropy, celebrating outstanding risk-takers and innovators in the philanthropic community who, through their determination and leadership, have increased funding for programs that promote gender equity and diversity.

Barrett Thomas ‘97

A member of the Grinnell College Board of Trustees, Barrett Thomas received a B.A. in mathematics/economics (with honors) from Grinnell College and holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan. Currently, he is an associate professor in the Department of Management Sciences at the University of Iowa and Faculty Director of the Strategic Innovation Academy in the full-time M.B.A. program of the Tippie School of Management. He recently completed a term as a board member for the Institute of Operations Research and Management Sciences, the largest professional association for advanced analytics, operations research, and management sciences. His areas of expertise are process improvement, logistics, vehicle routing, dynamic programming, and heuristic search. He is active in his field as a speaker, researcher, and as an editor and referee for peer-reviewed journals.

Jocelyn Wyatt ‘99

Jocelyn Wyatt is the co-lead and executive director of IDEO.org, the non-profit organization started by IDEO to address poverty-related challenges through design and to encourage the use of human-centered innovation in the social sector. Jocelyn’s work focuses on identifying non-profit and social enterprises with whom to partner and designing innovative solutions related to water and sanitation, agriculture, energy, health, financial services, and early childhood education. Jocelyn specializes in building social enterprises and advising businesses in the developing world, where she uses the market to effect social change. Prior to joining IDEO in 2007, Jocelyn worked in Kenya as an Acumen Fund fellow with an agro-pharmaceutical company involved in the production of malaria treatments. She served as VisionSpring’s interim country director in India, where she helped increase the distribution of low-cost reading glasses to the urban and rural poor. She also did training, project management, and business development for Chemonics International, a contractor for USAID. Jocelyn is a 1999 graduate of Grinnell College with a degree in anthropology and received an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. She has taught social enterprise and human-centered design at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley and Thunderbird. She is an advisory board member to Clinton Global Initiative, Fenix International and Hattery, an Aspen Institute First Movers Fellow, and one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s Top Global Thinkers.

2013 Selection Committee

Eliza Willis, professor of political science, Grinnell College

Committee Chair

Before joining the Grinnell College faculty in 1991, Professor Eliza Willis held teaching positions at Boston College and Tulane University. She teaches courses on Latin American politics, international political economy, and the political economy of developing countries. Her 2010 tutorial was entitled "Making a Difference in the Fight Against Global Poverty." Her published research focuses on various aspects of the political economy of Latin American development. She served as the director of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest's study-abroad programs in Costa Rica in 2002-2004 and as chair of the Grinnell faculty in 2006-2008. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Eliza received her bachelor’s degree from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and completed her Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin.

2013 Committee Members

Meg Jones Bair, director of donor relations, Grinnell College

Meg Jones Bair works to provide individualized stewardship to Grinnell College's supporters. Meg has served in a variety of positions in the Development and Alumni Relations office the last 17 years and brings to the selection committee her experience working with the extended Grinnell community—alumni, parents, trustees, community members, and more. Meg received her undergraduate degree from Centre College and her master's in higher education administration from Florida State University. Meg has also served as chairperson of the Poweshiek County Foster Care Review Board and a member of the Grinnell College Collection Committee.

Laura Ferguson, M.D. ’90, member of the Grinnell College board of trustees

A Grinnell native, Laura Ferguson graduated from Grinnell College with a degree in studio art in 1990. In 1995 she received her M.D. from the University of Iowa, College of Medicine. She completed a family medicine residency at North Iowa Mercy Hospital in Mason City, Iowa, serving as chief resident during her third year. After graduation from residency, Laura joined her father, David Ferguson, M.D., in practice in Grinnell. She served as president of the medical staff from 2001-2003. She is currently the vice-chair of the Grinnell College Board of Trustees and a member of the Grinnell Regional Medical Center Board.

Emily Westergaard Hamilton '02, executive director, Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation

Emily Westergaard Hamilton graduated from Grinnell College in 2002 with a degree in international development. She moved back to Des Moines after completing her Grinnell Corps fellowship at the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia in 2003. Emily is now the executive director of the Des Moines "I Have a Dream" Foundation, which works with at-risk youth to help every student graduate from high school and go to college. Emily is on the board of the North High Alumni Association, is a volunteer fund director for her class at Grinnell College, and serves on the selection committee for the Grinnell Corps: Namibia Fellowship. She also has a master’s degree in public administration from Drake University.

Chris Hunter, professor of sociology, Grinnell College

A professor of sociology at Grinnell College, Chris Hunter's academic interests include the intersection of psychological and sociological social psychology, the organizational analysis of non-profit organizations, and deviance and criminology. He served as Grinnell College's coordinator of the American Sociological Association's Minority Opportunities through School Transformation Program, as a Grinnell College faculty representative on the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Committee on Minority Concerns, and on the boards of directors of Mid-Iowa Community Action and the Grinnell public library. Chris received his bachelor's degree from Brown University and completed his Ph.D. in sociology at Princeton University.

Kristi Knous, president and COO, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines

Kristi Knous is president and COO of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, where she is responsible for all foundation operations. She formerly served as the Community Foundation's vice president of donor relations and community investment, leading the foundation's grantmaking and community investment programs. Previously Kristi worked as a child life specialist at Blank Children's Hospital and spoke nationally on family-centered care and advocacy issues. Kristi also serves on the boards of Bravo Greater Des Moines, Midwest Housing Equity Group, and the Iowa State University Foundation Women and Philanthropy Advisory Committee. An Iowa native, Kristi graduated from Iowa State University and received a M.P.A. and certificate in business management from Drake University.

Colleen Osborne '13, Grinnell College student body president

Colleen Osborne '13 is president of the Grinnell College student body. She currently serves on the Rosenfield Program Committee and is a Grinnell College campus tour guide. Last year, Colleen was the political director for the College and Young Democrats in Iowa, helping students organize political action on their campuses and aiding Democratic candidates at all levels of government. Additionally, Colleen worked in the U.S. Congress in 2010, the UK Parliament in 2011, and the Feminist Majority Foundation in 2012. She is a political science major from Los Angeles, Calif., hoping to pursue a career in women's advocacy and international relations.

Suku Radia, president and CEO, Bankers Trust

Suku Radia is CEO and president of Bankers Trust, a position which he assumed in March 2008. Bankers Trust is Iowa’s largest independent community bank with consolidated assets exceeding $3 billion. Prior to joining Bankers Trust, Suku served as chief financial officer of Meredith Corporation for eight years. Meredith is a NYSE company and is the nation’s leading diversified media company. Suku earned a bachelor’s of science degree, with distinction, from Iowa State University in 1974 and became a certified public accountant in 1975, when he joined KPMG. He has been active in a number of professional, economic development, educational, and charitable organizations, including the 2009 campaign chair of United Way of Central Iowa and the executive committee of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. In addition, Suku has been the recipient of many philanthropic awards. Born and raised in Kampala, Uganda, Suku came to the United States in 1971 to attend Iowa State University.

Suzanne E. Siskel, director of social justice philanthropy, Ford Foundation

Suzanne Eloise Siskel is the executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Asia Foundation, a non-governmental international development organization committed to the development of the Asia-Pacific region. She oversees the Foundation’s day-to-day operations and works closely with the president on strategy and policy issues. Before joining The Asia Foundation, Siskel served as the director of social justice philanthropy at the Ford Foundation, where she oversaw efforts to mobilize philanthropic resources for social change and promote social justice throughout the world. Trained as a social anthropologist, she has served variously as a consultant, university teacher, and researcher throughout Indonesia, in rural northeast Brazil, and highland Chiapas, Mexico. She serves on the boards of the Fulbright Association, of which she is immediate past president; the European Foundation Centre; Philanthropy New York; and the Youth Orchestra of the Americas. She holds degrees in social anthropology from Harvard University and The Johns Hopkins University, was in the first class of Luce Scholars of the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Marsha K. Ternus, former chief justice, Iowa Supreme Court

Marsha Ternus was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 1993 by Gov. Terry Branstad and was selected by her peers to serve as chief justice in 2006. As chief justice, she made the improvement of court oversight of child welfare cases a priority for the Iowa Judicial Branch and collaborated with Iowa Legal Aid to improve access to the courts by those who could not afford an attorney. Her term on the court expired on December 31, 2010. In 2012, she was awarded the prestigious John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Before joining the Supreme Court, she worked in private law practice for 16 years with a Des Moines law firm. Marsha received her bachelor's degree with honors and high distinction, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Iowa in 1972. She earned her law degree with honors, Order of the Coif, from Drake University Law School in 1977. While at Drake, Marsha served as editor-in-chief of the Drake Law Review. Her community involvement during this period included terms on the board of directors of the Central Iowa Chapter of the American Red Cross and on the board of directors of the Polk County Legal Aid Society.

Barrett Thomas '97, associate professor of Management Sciences, University of Iowa

A member of the Grinnell College Board of Trustees, Barrett Thomas received a B.A. in mathematics/economics (with honors) from Grinnell College and holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan. Currently, he is an associate professor in the Department of Management Sciences at the University of Iowa and Faculty Director of the Strategic Innovation Academy in the full-time M.B.A. program of the Tippie School of Management. He recently completed a term as a board member for the Institute of Operations Research and Management Sciences, the largest professional association for advanced analytics, operations research, and management sciences. His areas of expertise are process improvement, logistics, vehicle routing, dynamic programming, and heuristic search. He is active in his field as a speaker, researcher, and as an editor and referee for peer-reviewed journals.

2012 Selection Committee

George A. Drake

Committee Chair

George A. Drake, professor and president emeritus, first came to Grinnell as an undergraduate in the class of 1956. After a sojourn at the University of Chicago to receive his Ph.D., George began his career as a historian and dean at Colorado College. He returned to Grinnell in 1979 as president, serving in that capacity until 1991. During his presidential tenure, he taught British history several times. From 1991-93, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho, teaching English in a Catholic mission school. Since his return to Grinnell as a faculty member, he has pursued his interests in British and Southern African history.

Committee Members

Rekha Basu, columnist for The Des Moines Register

Rekha Basu has been a columnist for The Des Moines Register since late 1991, focusing on human rights, racial and gender issues, and commenting on cultural trends. She also hosts a weekly web-based talk show, "Between the Lines." She has been a reporter, editorial writer, and columnist at newspapers in Iowa, New York, and Florida. Her byline has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The International Herald Tribune, and The Nation, among other publications. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, a masters in political economy from Goddard Cambridge Graduate School (where she subsequently taught), and a B.A. in sociology from Brandeis University. She graduated from the United Nations International School in New York. She is a frequent public speaker and has made guest appearances on C-Span, CNN, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and National Public Radio. Rekha has received many honors, including an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Grinnell College and the Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice from the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame.

Monica Chavez-Silva, director of community enhancement and engagement, Grinnell College

As the first director of community enhancement and engagement for Grinnell College, Monica Chavez-Silva works with the surrounding community to build partnerships and identify opportunities for College participation in community improvements. In this role she oversees the College’s local gifts, grants, and investments; serves as a liaison between ‘town’ and ‘gown’; and actively facilitates partnerships aimed at enhancing local quality of life. Monica is a member of the American Planning Association and, through her office, represents the College to the International Town & Gown Association and the Iowa Council of Foundations. Monica has lived in Grinnell since 1998, when she moved to Iowa with her husband, Pablo Silva, associate professor of history at Grinnell. Previously, she worked as a consumer research specialist at Leo Burnett Chicago and established Burnett’s research department in Santiago, Chile.

Laura Ferguson, M.D. ’90, member of the Grinnell College board of trustees

A Grinnell native, Laura Ferguson graduated from Grinnell College with a degree in studio art in 1990. In 1995 she received her M.D. from the University of Iowa, College of Medicine. She completed a family medicine residency at North Iowa Mercy Hospital in Mason City, Iowa, serving as chief resident during her third year. After graduation from residency, Laura joined her father, David Ferguson, M.D., in practice in Grinnell. She served as president of the medical staff from 2001-2003. She is currently the vice-chair of the Grinnell College Board of Trustees and a member of the Grinnell Regional Medical Center Board.

Emily Westergaard Hamilton '02, executive director, Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation

Emily Westergaard Hamilton graduated from Grinnell College in 2002 with a degree in international development. She moved back to Des Moines after completing her Grinnell Corps fellowship at the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia in 2003. Emily is now the executive director of the Des Moines "I Have a Dream" Foundation, which works with at-risk youth to help every student graduate from high school and go to college. Emily is on the board of the North High Alumni Association, is a volunteer fund director for her class at Grinnell College, and serves on the selection committee for the Grinnell Corps: Namibia Fellowship. She also has a master’s degree in public administration from Drake University.

Gabe Schechter ’12, Grinnell College student body president

Gabe Schechter is the Grinnell student body president. He previously served as treasurer of the student government, where he ensured and enabled programming for the campus and helped create and advance the first official nonprofit student organization at Grinnell College. Additionally, Gabe was one of the first math teachers for Grinnell College's Liberal Arts in Prison Program. Gabe is both a mathematics and economics major but remains committed to developing his skills in jazz musicianship.

Suku Radia, president and CEO, Bankers Trust

Suku Radia is CEO and president of Bankers Trust, a position which he assumed in March 2008. Bankers Trust is Iowa’s largest independent community bank with consolidated assets exceeding $3 billion. Prior to joining Bankers Trust, Suku served as chief financial officer of Meredith Corporation for eight years. Meredith is a NYSE company and is the nation’s leading diversified media company. Suku earned a bachelor’s of science degree, with distinction, from Iowa State University in 1974 and became a certified public accountant in 1975, when he joined KPMG. He has been active in a number of professional, economic development, educational, and charitable organizations, including the 2009 campaign chair of United Way of Central Iowa and the executive committee of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. In addition, Suku has been the recipient of many philanthropic awards. Born and raised in Kampala, Uganda, Suku came to the United States in 1971 to attend Iowa State University.

Suzanne E. Siskel, director of social justice philanthropy, Ford Foundation

Suzanne Eloise Siskel is the executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Asia Foundation, a non-governmental international development organization committed to the development of the Asia-Pacific region. She oversees the Foundation’s day-to-day operations and works closely with the president on strategy and policy issues. Before joining The Asia Foundation, Siskel served as the director of social justice philanthropy at the Ford Foundation, where she oversaw efforts to mobilize philanthropic resources for social change and promote social justice throughout the world. Trained as a social anthropologist, she has served variously as a consultant, university teacher, and researcher throughout Indonesia, in rural northeast Brazil, and highland Chiapas, Mexico. She serves on the boards of the Fulbright Association, of which she is immediate past president; the European Foundation Centre; Philanthropy New York; and the Youth Orchestra of the Americas. She holds degrees in social anthropology from Harvard University and The Johns Hopkins University, was in the first class of Luce Scholars of the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Marsha K. Ternus, former chief justice, Iowa Supreme Court

Marsha Ternus was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 1993 by Gov. Terry Branstad and was selected by her peers to serve as chief justice in 2006. As chief justice, she made the improvement of court oversight of child welfare cases a priority for the Iowa Judicial Branch and collaborated with Iowa Legal Aid to improve access to the courts by those who could not afford an attorney. Her term on the court expired on December 31, 2010. In 2012, she was awarded the prestigious John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Before joining the Supreme Court, she worked in private law practice for 16 years with a Des Moines law firm. Marsha received her bachelor's degree with honors and high distinction, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Iowa in 1972. She earned her law degree with honors, Order of the Coif, from Drake University Law School in 1977. While at Drake, Marsha served as editor-in-chief of the Drake Law Review. Her community involvement during this period included terms on the board of directors of the Central Iowa Chapter of the American Red Cross and on the board of directors of the Polk County Legal Aid Society.

Eliza Willis, professor of political science, Grinnell College

Before joining the Grinnell College faculty in 1991, Professor Eliza Willis held teaching positions at Boston College and Tulane University. She teaches courses on Latin American politics, international political economy, and the political economy of developing countries. Her 2010 tutorial was entitled "Making a Difference in the Fight Against Global Poverty." Her published research focuses on various aspects of the political economy of Latin American development. She served as the director of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest's study-abroad programs in Costa Rica in 2002-2004 and as chair of the Grinnell faculty in 2006-2008. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Eliza received her bachelor’s degree from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and completed her Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin.

 

2011 Selection Committee

Grinnell College assembled a diverse, 10-person selection committee to evaluate nominees for the 2011 Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize. Three winners – Eric W. Glustrom and Boris Bulayev, Educate (shared award); Rabbi Melissa Weintraub, Encounter; and James Kofi Annan, Challenging Heights – were announced on May 5, 2011. Appointed by the College’s president, Raynard S. Kington, M.D., Ph.D., the 2011 selection committee members – largely Iowa-based – were all recognized individuals who worked for social change in various capacities. Their backgrounds, accomplishments, and experiences reflected the diversity in both Grinnell and the state. These members included one representative each from the College’s faculty, student body, alumni, staff and trustees, plus prominent individuals not formally affiliated with Grinnell. In announcing the selection committee, President Kington, stated, “We are delighted these ten exceptionally talented, experienced, and socially conscious individuals have agreed to be selection committee members for the Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize. In creating this prize program, we seek to recognize young individuals who embody our core values and organizations that share our commitment to change the world for the better. I am confident our selection committee members will bring extraordinary knowledge, sensitivity, and passion to that goal.”

George A. Drake

Committee Chair

George A. Drake, professor and president emeritus, first came to Grinnell as an undergraduate in the class of 1956. After a sojourn at the University of Chicago to receive his Ph.D., George began his career as a historian and dean at Colorado College. He returned to Grinnell in 1979 as president, serving in that capacity until 1991. During his presidential tenure, he taught British history several times. From 1991-93, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Lesotho, teaching English in a Catholic mission school. Since his return to Grinnell as a faculty member, he has pursued his interests in British and Southern African history.

Committee Members

Rekha Basu, columnist for The Des Moines Register

Rekha Basu has been a columnist for The Des Moines Register since late 1991, focusing on human rights, racial and gender issues, and commenting on cultural trends. She also hosts a weekly web-based talk show, "Between the Lines." She has been a reporter, editorial writer, and columnist at newspapers in Iowa, New York, and Florida. Her byline has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The International Herald Tribune, and The Nation, among other publications. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, a masters in political economy from Goddard Cambridge Graduate School (where she subsequently taught), and a B.A. in sociology from Brandeis University. She graduated from the United Nations International School in New York. She is a frequent public speaker and has made guest appearances on C-Span, CNN, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and National Public Radio. Rekha has received many honors, including an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Grinnell College and the Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice from the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame.

Monica Chavez-Silva, director of community enhancement and engagement, Grinnell College

As the first director of community enhancement and engagement for Grinnell College, Monica Chavez-Silva works with the surrounding community to build partnerships and identify opportunities for College participation in community improvements. In this role she oversees the College’s local gifts, grants, and investments; serves as a liaison between ‘town’ and ‘gown’; and actively facilitates partnerships aimed at enhancing local quality of life. Monica is a member of the American Planning Association and, through her office, represents the College to the International Town & Gown Association and the Iowa Council of Foundations. Monica has lived in Grinnell since 1998, when she moved to Iowa with her husband, Pablo Silva, associate professor of history at Grinnell. Previously, she worked as a consumer research specialist at Leo Burnett Chicago and established Burnett’s research department in Santiago, Chile.

Laura Ferguson, M.D. ’90, member of the Grinnell College board of trustees

A Grinnell native, Laura Ferguson graduated from Grinnell College with a degree in studio art in 1990. In 1995 she received her M.D. from the University of Iowa, College of Medicine. She completed a family medicine residency at North Iowa Mercy Hospital in Mason City, Iowa, serving as chief resident during her third year. After graduation from residency, Laura joined her father, David Ferguson, M.D., in practice in Grinnell. She served as president of the medical staff from 2001-2003. She is currently the vice-chair of the Grinnell College Board of Trustees and a member of the Grinnell Regional Medical Center Board.

Emily Westergaard Hamilton '02, executive director, Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation

Emily Westergaard Hamilton graduated from Grinnell College in 2002 with a degree in international development. She moved back to Des Moines after completing her Grinnell Corps fellowship at the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia in 2003. Emily is now the executive director of the Des Moines "I Have a Dream" Foundation, which works with at-risk youth to help every student graduate from high school and go to college. Emily is on the board of the North High Alumni Association, is a volunteer fund director for her class at Grinnell College, and serves on the selection committee for the Grinnell Corps: Namibia Fellowship. She also has a master’s degree in public administration from Drake University.

Ben Offenberg '11, Grinnell College student body president

Ben Offenberg is the Grinnell student body president. Last year, Ben was elected to serve as the student government vice president for student affairs in which he advocated for students in many different areas of student life. Ben is a biological chemistry major with interest in Arabic and law. In his first two years at Grinnell Ben lettered in varsity football and varsity track and field. Ben is also on the Grinnell Mock Trial team and a member of Grinnell's Jewish organization, Chaluztim. Ben attended Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Illinois, where he earned varsity letters in three sports and his Eagle Scout award.

Suku Radia, president and CEO, Bankers Trust

Suku Radia is CEO and president of Bankers Trust, a position which he assumed in March 2008. Bankers Trust is Iowa’s largest independent community bank with consolidated assets exceeding $3 billion. Prior to joining Bankers Trust, Suku served as chief financial officer of Meredith Corporation for eight years. Meredith is a NYSE company and is the nation’s leading diversified media company. Suku earned a bachelor’s of science degree, with distinction, from Iowa State University in 1974 and became a certified public accountant in 1975, when he joined KPMG. He has been active in a number of professional, economic development, educational, and charitable organizations, including the 2009 campaign chair of United Way of Central Iowa and the executive committee of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. In addition, Suku has been the recipient of many philanthropic awards. Born and raised in Kampala, Uganda, Suku came to the United States in 1971 to attend Iowa State University.

Suzanne E. Siskel, director of social justice philanthropy, Ford Foundation

Suzanne Eloise Siskel is the executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Asia Foundation, a non-governmental international development organization committed to the development of the Asia-Pacific region. She oversees the Foundation’s day-to-day operations and works closely with the president on strategy and policy issues. Before joining The Asia Foundation, Siskel served as the director of social justice philanthropy at the Ford Foundation, where she oversaw efforts to mobilize philanthropic resources for social change and promote social justice throughout the world. Trained as a social anthropologist, she has served variously as a consultant, university teacher, and researcher throughout Indonesia, in rural northeast Brazil, and highland Chiapas, Mexico. She serves on the boards of the Fulbright Association, of which she is immediate past president; the European Foundation Centre; Philanthropy New York; and the Youth Orchestra of the Americas. She holds degrees in social anthropology from Harvard University and The Johns Hopkins University, was in the first class of Luce Scholars of the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Marsha K. Ternus, former chief justice, Iowa Supreme Court

Marsha Ternus was appointed to the Iowa Supreme Court in 1993 by Gov. Terry Branstad and was selected by her peers to serve as chief justice in 2006. As chief justice, she made the improvement of court oversight of child welfare cases a priority for the Iowa Judicial Branch and collaborated with Iowa Legal Aid to improve access to the courts by those who could not afford an attorney. Her term on the court expired on December 31, 2010. In 2012, she was awarded the prestigious John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. Before joining the Supreme Court, she worked in private law practice for 16 years with a Des Moines law firm. Marsha received her bachelor's degree with honors and high distinction, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Iowa in 1972. She earned her law degree with honors, Order of the Coif, from Drake University Law School in 1977. While at Drake, Marsha served as editor-in-chief of the Drake Law Review. Her community involvement during this period included terms on the board of directors of the Central Iowa Chapter of the American Red Cross and on the board of directors of the Polk County Legal Aid Society.

Eliza Willis, professor of political science, Grinnell College

 

Before joining the Grinnell College faculty in 1991, Professor Eliza Willis held teaching positions at Boston College and Tulane University. She teaches courses on Latin American politics, international political economy, and the political economy of developing countries. Her 2010 tutorial was entitled "Making a Difference in the Fight Against Global Poverty." Her published research focuses on various aspects of the political economy of Latin American development. She served as the director of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest's study-abroad programs in Costa Rica in 2002-2004 and as chair of the Grinnell faculty in 2006-2008. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Eliza received her bachelor’s degree from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and completed her Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin.