2008 Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Kathleen McHugh Schneider ’99
Kathleen McHugh Schneider ’99 believes that one person can change the world. An environmental-science major at Dickinson, Schneider studied abroad in Kenya and then joined the Peace Corps after graduation. As a Peace Corps volunteer, she was posted in Zimbabwe for five months and developed an anti-poaching program and a community nutritional center for people affected by HIV/AIDS.
She spent two years in Tanzania developing HIV/AIDS education and treatment programs for migratory tea-plantation workers, commercial sex workers and at-risk youth. Schneider also organized a dairy-cow initiative for local farmers, oversaw the construction of nine wells that provide potable water to 6,500 people and created a coffee cooperative with local farmers.
She pursued a master’s degree in international development and social change from Clark University, and her save-the-world mentality led her to Save the Children (STC), an organization dedicated to improving the lives of needy children in the United States and around the world.
As emergency operations manager in the Department of Humanitarian Response, Schneider oversees the 1,100 STC staff members at 50 sites in western Darfur. She was on the initial assessment team in 2004 and travels regularly to the devastated region in Sudan, Africa, to provide guidance and develop strategic and operational plans. She also works on other humanitarian emergencies, including the Myanmar/Burma cyclone and the earthquake in China.
STC’s programs in Darfur feed 500,000 people every month, provide potable water and offer various protection programs. One such program places children in safe, structured activities in refugee camps, while another creates strategies to counter violence against women. Schneider also works on skills-building and health programs for displaced adults.
As STC’s primary representative for the Darfur program, Schneider has been asked twice to testify before Congress and meets regularly with congressional staff on Capitol Hill to advise on the Darfur policy agenda.
Security is one of Schneider’s main concerns, and the worsening situation makes it increasingly difficult for STC to provide aid and supplies to the region.
“It has to turn out better than this,” she believes. “The resiliency of the human spirit is really evident in situations like this when people have undergone extreme turmoil and survived.”
Schneider hopes that more people will speak up about the Darfur crisis and stresses that individuals can make a difference, even in acting locally.
“Dickinson,” she says, “pushes you to get out there and be an active member of global society.” For Schneider, this lesson is simply a way of life.
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