What do an award-winning entrepreneur in Chicago, an employment promotion expert in Egypt, an executive director of an assistive technology company in Hawaii, and a Police Chief in Brazil all have in common? In addition to being leaders in their professional fields and working tirelessly to improve their communities, they are also this year’s Professional Fellows Alumni Impact Award winners.
The Professional Fellows Program is a two-way, global exchange program designed to promote mutual understanding, enhance leadership and professional skills, and build lasting, sustainable partnerships between emerging leaders from foreign countries and the United States. The Professional Fellows Program brings emerging leaders from around the world to the United States for intensive 5-6 week fellowships designed to broaden their professional skills and expertise. American participants who have hosted foreign fellows then travel overseas for participant-driven reciprocal programs. In the past seven years, more than 3,700 participants around the world have taken part in the Professional Fellows Program.
So what makes a Professional Fellows Alumni Impact Award winner? These alumni completed their programs and then used the knowledge, experience, and skills they gained during their exchange to make an even greater impact on their communities. These winners represent the spirit of Professional Fellows and continue to use their global perspective to improve the lives of others.
Barbara Fischlowitz-Leong is Executive Director of Assistive Technology Resource Centers of Hawaii (ATRC), an NGO whose mission is to link persons with disabilities with technology and empower individuals through its use. She is responsible for drafting Hawaii’s Warranty Act, which protects purchases of assistive technology in the state, and an administrative requirement that mandates all state government agencies include language for assistive technology in all appropriate policies. She has participated as both a host and a fellow, traveling to Turkey, Armenia, and Singapore. From meeting with visually impaired lawyers in Turkey to teaching university classes in Armenia, each exchange experience was unique and had a profound impact on her work and life.
Amira Hassan is a Long Term Expert at Employment Promotion Program GIZ Egypt, which provides services for sustainable development and education, such as career guidance and online resources to increase youth employment. Amira did her exchange in 2014 in Pennsylvania with Philadelphia Works and Hands Along the Nile, learning new theories on labor market analysis and how to provide online support to job seekers. Inspired by what she learned in the U.S., and with continued support from her host organization, she created an online platform that is used in 240 schools by over 10,000 students in Egypt. Not stopping there, she worked with an evaluator to make improvements and is developing a mobile application so that even more students have access to this platform and the resources they need to find employment.
Scott L. Stewart is the co-founder of Project Tech Teens in Chicago, an innovative mobile app foundry where students in underserved communities can learn computer programming while launching scalable and profitable businesses. Among his many accomplishments, he is also the CEO of a multimedia production company, author, and award-winning educator. In 2016 he hosted and mentored two Professional Fellows cohorts, and then travelled to continue his role as a mentor and support youth employment initiatives in their countries. From speaking at an Entrepreneurship Summit in Slovenia, to spending a week in Bosnia and Herzegovina demonstrating low and high-tech methods of teaching computer programming to youth, Scott has continued his commitment to supporting global partnerships to empower youth in the U.S. and abroad.
Margareth Travessoni is Police Chief of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, the second most populous state in the country. During her 2012 fellowship she worked with the Government of Indiana and learned about the state’s focus on government transparency and accountability. Inspired by the experiences during her exchange, she returned to Brazil and developed and launched a user-friendly online portal for the citizens of her state, providing them with access to important public information such as government revenues and expenditures, employee salaries, and the state budget. She’s now working to expand that transparency even further by providing crime statistics online, enabling police forces across the country to be better prepared to respond to crime and empowering citizens to better understand how their tax dollars are spent.
From Egypt to Hawaii, Chicago to Brazil, these Professional Fellows are demonstrating the transformative power of exchanges on individuals and society, and inspiring others with their continued work. Congratulations to the 2017 Professional Fellows Alumni Impact Award winners!