International Impact Award

International Impact Award logo

The International Impact Award recognizes distinguished alumni and other individuals with significant ties to the UI who have made important contributions internationally or, in the case of international alumni, abroad in their home countries.

The International Impact Award was established by UI International Programs in 2010 in order to honor exceptional individuals in any field who have made sustained and deep contributions internationally or in the U.S. to promote global understanding. The award is presented by the UI president during International Education Week in a public ceremony.

Nominees may come from any field; current UI faculty and staff are not eligible for the award.  To nominate an individual for the 2016 International Impact Award, please complete and submit the nomination form by Monday, May 2, 2016.  Nomination form and submission guidelines are available here or by contacting

2015 International Impact Award Winner

Currently the senior program officer at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs, Rebecca Arnold has effectively blended her deep knowledge of communication strategies with an understanding of critical public health issues facing populations in many parts of the world.   A self-described ‘social and behavioral change communications specialist,’ her work has directly affected the delivery of knowledge and skills around family planning as well as maternal, newborn, and child health and nutrition, and has led to improved health behaviors in communities from Madagascar to Bangladesh.

Arnold’s focus has always been global.  She’s worked as a community health educator, has fought global poverty with the NGO CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere), and has developed grassroots advocacy guides used in Burundi, Uganda, and Rwanda to assist local activists in the prevention of gender-based violence in their communities.

In recent years, Arnold has directed the Bangladesh Knowledge Management Initiative (BKMI) in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  BKMI is a USAID-funded project to strengthen the capacity of the Bangladesh Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as it attempts to develop a national communication framework for health, population, and nutrition, which is currently absent in Bangladesh.  As part of this effort, she is developing digital resources (eHealth) for community-based, non-clinical field health workers to use in counseling at the household level.

These are only a few highlights of Rebecca Arnold’s impressive accomplishments at a global level.  Since her earliest days as a Peace Corps volunteer, Arnold has been acutely aware of the relationship between health and economic security.  By creating appropriately targeted behavior change communication campaigns around health, Arnold and her public health colleagues are positively affecting not only those in the immediate vicinity but serving as a model for use by public health workers in other developing countries.

Rock Island, IL, native and UI Masters of Public Health graduate Rebecca Arnold will receive the award at 5 p.m. on November 10 at the start of International Programs’ WorldCanvass television show and will participate in a wide-ranging discussion of global public health issues.  More information on WorldCanvass can be found here.

2014 International Impact Award Winners

For the first time since its inception, two winners were selected for the International Impact Award: journalist, author, and activist Roger Thurow, and tropical medicine specialist Dr. Selma Jeronimo. UI President Sally Mason and Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs Downing Thomas will present the awards to Thurow and Jeronimo at 5 p.m., November 18, at FilmScene in downtown Iowa City as part of the WorldCanvass program “The Tenacious Cycle of Poverty, Hunger, and Disease.”

Roger Thurow

Roger Thurow is a UI journalism grad who grew up in a small town in Illinois and went on to a high-profile career writing for the Wall Street Journal and covering a host of momentous international events, including the emergence of Nelson Mandela from prison, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the war in former Yugoslavia.  But the tragic and seemingly intractable issues of inadequate nutrition and food inequalities in Africa haunted him and eventually became his driving cause. After three decades as a journalist and foreign correspondent, Thurow turned his energies toward personal activism, joining the Chicago Council on Global Affairs as a senior fellow for agriculture and food policy, speaking out and writing on nutrition and hunger issues, and being named the 2009 Action Against Hunger Humanitarian Award in the process.

Selma Jeronimo

Selma Jeronimo is a professor of biochemistry and medicine at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Natal, Brazil. Her research involves work in the neighborhoods and homes of low-income populations, and she provides free medical consultation and care as a part of her studies. Although not an alumna of the University of Iowa, Jeronimo has a long history of working closely with UI medical and global health faculty and students. A partner in numerous high-level, grant-funded research projects investigating endemic but curable tropical diseases that affect thousands of her fellow Brazilians, particularly those living in impoverished conditions, Jeronimo also provides hands-on learning opportunities that are invaluable to her UI colleagues.

2013 International Impact Award Winner

Marcelo Mena-Carrasco

Dr. Marcelo Mena-Carrasco, a Chilean alumnus of the UI College of Engineering and powerful advocate of socially responsible and sustainable environmental practices, has been named the recipient of the 2013 International Impact Award.  Mena-Carrasco directs the Center for Sustainability Research at the Universidad Andres Bello Santiago, and serves as Energy and Climate Specialist for Fundación Chile, a private nonprofit corporation whose mission is to introduce high-impact innovation and empower human capital.

Mena-Carrasco, the fourth recipient of this honor, is deeply involved in air quality research, striving to unfold the layers of complexity surrounding our understanding of global warming and climate change.  Recognizing the social impact of the technological choices we make, Mena-Carrasco is not content to simply conduct research in his lab and leave policy questions to politicians.  He takes his research into the world in hopes of finding solutions to the environmental problems that are daily causing harm to individuals and society, creating great demands in the political and public policy spheres of countries all over the world.  Through continued collaboration with colleagues at the UI and elsewhere, Mena-Carrasco believes the path can be found to a more sustainable and healthier future.

UI President Sally Mason and Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs Downing Thomas presented the award to Mena-Carrasco at the WorldCanvass program The Social Impact of Sustainability on November 8, 2013.

2012 International Impact Award Winner

Hualing Nieh Engle

Co-founder and tireless supporter of the International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa, Hualing Nieh Engle received the 2012 International Impact Award.

As only the third recipient of this award, Engle is being honored for her vision in creating and nurturing the International Writing Program; for her commitment to freedom of expression and international/intercultural dialogue regardless of political barriers; for her personal investment in internationalizing the UI campus as well as the larger American literary landscape; and for proudly carrying the name and reputation of the University of Iowa to the most cosmopolitan of cities and most humble of communities in her own voice and in the voices of IWP writers.

Listen to Hualing speak about her work with the International Writing Program on the Nov. 2, 2012, WorldCanvass program “IWP: Writing the Stories of the World,” available as an iTunes podcast.

2011 International Impact Award Winner

Trudy Huskamp Peterson

Dr. Trudy Huskamp Peterson, former acting archivist of the United States, founding executive director of the Open Society Archives, and director of archives and records management for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, was named the 2011 recipient of the International Impact Award for her unflagging commitment, even in the face of opposition and intimidation, to the protection and safe-keeping of at-risk documents in order that history may be preserved.

"I'm extremely grateful for this award because it gives a little more visibility to the question of the importance of archives in defending, protecting and asserting human rights around the world."
- Trudy Huskamp Peterson

Hear more about Trudy and her work in the free iTunes podcast from the Nov. 11, 2011, WorldCanvass program "Being the Other."

2010 International Impact Award Winners

Richard and Mary Jo Stanley

The inaugural award was presented in 2010 to Richard and Mary Jo Stanley of Muscatine who, along with the Stanley family, have been long-time donors to UI International Programs.

“We are most pleased and honored to receive the International Impact Award,” said Richard Stanley. “This award recognizes our family’s interest in global education over the years. We believe that the survival issues of today and the future require the understanding, engagement and collaboration of all peoples and nations. We are thankful to have a small part in this.”

Stanley commended UI International Programs’ work in preparing students and others to be globally competent and comfortable in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world.

Hear more about the Stanleys and their work in the free iTunes podcast from the Nov. 12, 2010, WorldCanvass program "The Value of an International Education."