2022 InterAction Award Winners


Every year, InterAction’s awards recognize outstanding leaders and organizations who are shaping the evolution of the U.S. NGO sector and who have made significant contributions to defend and advance the rights of people living in the poorest and most vulnerable communities across the globe.

Here are our 2022 award winners:

Co-recipients Shawna Bader-Blau and Douglas Rutzen – Julia Vadala Taft Outstanding Leadership Award

The Julia Vadala Taft Outstanding Leadership Award honors outstanding and distinguished leaders in the U.S. NGO community whose career and vision have transcended their own organization by raising the influence and effectiveness of the U.S. NGO sector. The award is named for a distinguished American humanitarian and celebrates the very best of who we are as a sector. Julia’s leadership has and will continue to inspire many in the NGO community as she mobilized its members to curb poverty and relieve human suffering abroad.

InterAction is pleased to announce that Shawna Bader-Blau, Executive Director, Solidarity Center and Douglas Rutzen, President & CEO, ICNL, are the recipients of the 2022 Julia Vadala Taft Leadership Award for promoting democracy, rights and governance (DRG) and championing the overlap between organizations focused on DRG and InterAction’s humanitarian Members.

Zuhra Wardak, International Rescue Committee (IRC) – Humanitarian Award

The Humanitarian Award recognizes an individual or individuals whose work reflects important leadership qualities in humanitarian practice, such as courage, initiative, creativity, grace under pressure, integrity, and sacrifice.

Zuhra Wardak is the Director of Compliance, Ethics and Gender and the co-leader of the Gender in Humanitarian Working Group at IRC in Afghanistan. Her work in Afghanistan during the ongoing crisis helped center Afghan women in humanitarian efforts and ensured a network of support. Wardak worked one-on-one with civilians and officials within the country to protect women, families, and communities. Her life-saving efforts have left an indelible mark on the communities she worked alongside and offered hope to thousands of women enduring violence and oppression under the Taliban.

Co-recipients Save the Children and WEEMA International – Disability Inclusion Award

InterAction established the Disability Inclusion Award in collaboration with Mobility International USA in 2009 in honor of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Recipients of the award demonstrate a commitment to ensure the full inclusion of people with disabilities and approach disability as an important cross-cutting issue, which uses a human rights lens throughout all aspects of their organization’s work.

Over the last three years, Save the Children has worked to embed Disability Inclusion in the bedrock of their organization. In 2021, it launched a global Disability Inclusion policy and Disability Inclusive Child Safeguarding Guidelines. In 2022, it developed an Inclusive Education Resource Toolkit and worked with partners to deliver a report illustrating the hidden impacts of COVID-19 on children and families with disabilities. Save the Children has also worked tirelessly to improve Disability Inclusion in the sector, piloting a curriculum on child rights, disability rights, and self-advocacy for children with disabilities to be released in 2022.

WEEMA has facilitated trainings and public events to promote the rights and dignity of people with disabilities and centered community-led work in their humanitarian strategies, working with local governments and schools. Specifically, in 2019, WEEMA started an inclusive education project in a rural government school to great success and national acclaim. WEEMA has since expanded its inclusive education project, which supports four rural government schools with over 250 children with disabilities enrolled. WEEMA continues to invest in its inclusion work while also serving as a model to be replicated by others.

To register for Forum 2022 please visit www.interaction.org/forum-2022 .

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