Each year, the International Achievement Awards highlight individuals who truly believe in the power of globalization. The efforts of these recipients to advance international awreness on- and off-campus deserve continued recognition beyond the year they earned their award.
Below you will find information about previous years' International Achievement Awards, including award recipients and keynote speakers.
U.S. Peace Corps
Carrie Hessler-Radelet is Director of the Peace Corps as of June 2014. She was initially appointed deputy director of the Peace Corps on June 23, 2010. She is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Western Samoa, 1981–83) with more than two decades of experience in public health focused on HIV/AIDS and maternal and child health.
Since 2010, Hessler-Radelet has spearheaded a comprehensive agency assessment and reform effort to improve efficiency across the organization—the first such endeavor since its founding in 1961. As deputy director, she led the roll-out of the Focus In/Train Up initiative, which provides targeted technical training to Volunteers to increase their capacity-building abilities. In her concurrent role as chief operating officer, she ensured the agency was a vigilant steward of government resources and taxpayer dollars.
During her tenure, Hessler-Radelet has led the implementation of new policies and processes to improve the health and safety of Volunteers, including the requirements codified in the 2011 Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act and policies and programs aimed at reducing the risk of sexual assault and violent crime. She was instrumental in instituting the new Office of Global Health and HIV and the Global Health Service Partnership as well as led an effort to overhaul Volunteer recruiting and engage more Volunteers in post-service public education activities.
Prior to her confirmation as deputy director, Hessler-Radelet was vice president and
director of the Washington, D.C., office of John Snow Inc., a global public-health
organization, where she oversaw the management of public-health programs in more than
Hessler-Radelet was actively involved in the establishment of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and was a primary author of PEPFAR’s first strategic plan. She was also founder of the Special Olympics in The Gambia in 1986, which is still active there.
Hessler-Radelet holds a master’s degree in health policy and management from the Harvard School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Boston University.
Hessler-Radelet also served as acting Director of the agency from September 2012 to
The 2016 Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth Distinguished Alumni Award for Exceptional Humanitarian and Service Achievement
Director of China Initiatives
Georgia Department of Economic Development
Stella Xu is the Director for China Initiatives for global commerce and tourism at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. In this role, her responsibilities include managing foreign direct investment, tourism, education and cultural programs, as well as government relations between Georgia and China.
Ms. Xu coordinated two of Governor Nathan Deal’s missions to China, which focused on establishing economic and trade relations between Georgia and China. She recruited numerous Chinese companies to Georgia including China’s leading heavy machinery giant, SANY, and one of the largest state owned travel industry IT service providers, TravelSky, which established its North American R&D center in Georgia. She played a key role in establish the first Georgia state office in China in 2008.
Since Graduated from MBA program from Kennesaw State University in 2006, Ms. Xu joined faculty at Coles College of Business and has taught Principles of Management, International Management, as well as International Entrepreneurship. She has translated and taught over 100 management training classes for Chinese government officials, special seminars for EMBA and served as the Director of the China Business Study Abroad Programs. In addition, professor Xu served on the Advisory Board of Directors for the Coles College of Business for many years and has been a Sam Walton Free Enterprise Fellow since 2005. Ms. Xu was named one of the “25 most influential Asians in Georgia” in 2009 and 2010.
The 2016 Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement
Professor, Resident Designer
College of the Arts
Kennesaw State University
Ming Chen is a tenured full professor and resident theatrical designer with 23 years of university teaching experience and three years of full-time professional theatre experience. Born in Shanghai, China, she received her two master’s degrees in Stage Design/Theory and in Theatrical Production from Shanghai Theatre Academy and the University of Pittsburgh respectively. She has worked at the Shakespeare Theatre at Folger in Washington, D.C. and Shanghai Youth Theatre Company in Shanghai and taught at SUNY at Buffalo in New York as well as Shanghai Theatre Academy in Shanghai.
As a scenic designer, Ming Chen’s table works have been displayed at the Prague Quadrennial (co-design), Czechoslovakia, the USITT Design Expo in Long Beach, California, and China’s National Stage Design Exhibition in Beijing and Tokyo. Her designs were seen at Atlanta Ballet, the national gala performances of the American College Dance Festivals at Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and Miller Theatre in New York City, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, the Shanghai International Arts Festival and Shanghai Theatre Festival in China. In addition, her works were commissioned by many professional theatres in Atlanta including the Alliance Theatre Company, the Horizon Theatre Company, 7 Stages and Theatre in the Square, as well as university theatres such as SUNY at Buffalo and Cornell University in New York.
As a scholar, Ming Chen is the author of Visual Literacy for Theatre, a 565-page textbook on design (published in 2011). Her other publications include essays and translations in top peer-reviewed professional journals such as Theatre Topics (co-author), TD&/T and Theatre Arts. She is also a columnist for EPerformance, a peer reviewed professional journal in China. She has frequently presented papers at national and international theatre conferences and has guest-lectured internationally. Drawing from her cross-cultural experiences, she has directed and co-directed a number of cultural exchange projects that garnered grants and funds from government and private funding agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Cultural Services of French Embassy, the Georgia Humanities Council, the French Consulate in Atlanta, the Confucius Institute, and the Coca Cola Foundation. She is a member of United Scenic Artists (Local USA 829) and of the China National Stage Design Association. She has been listed in Who’s Who in America and in Who’s Who among Asian Americans.
The 2016 Kennesaw State University Global Public Service Prize
H.E. Hunaina S. Al Mughairy
Ambassador of Oman to the United States
H.E. Ambassador Hunaina Al Mughairy was appointed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Sultanate of Oman to the United States of America on December 2, 2005. She also serves as Chair of the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center’s Board of Oversight.
Ambassador Al Mughairy is an economist with an extensive business background. She is a strong advocate for the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreement and has focused much of her energy on improving relations between the U.S. and Oman.
As the first woman to represent an Arab country as an ambassador in Washington, Ambassador Al Mughairy has worked to improve the image of Arab women in the United States. Prior to her work in diplomacy, she served many roles in Oman’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Omani Center for Investment Promotion & Export Development.
From 1984 to 1985 she worked in the permanent Mission of the Sultanate of Oman to the United Nations in Geneva. Later, from 1985 to 1991 she was the Director of Industrial Planning and Research for the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and a member of the Planning Committee for Major Gas projects in the Sultanate of Oman.
Ambassador Al Mughairy obtained a B.A in Business Communications from the High Polytechnical Institute in Cairo, and an M.A. in Economics from New York University, New York.
The 2016 Division of Global Affairs Distinguished International Community Partner Award
Angela Khoury was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. Despite civil war and its imposing burden, Angela pursued engineering, graduating from l’Ecole Superieure des Ingenieurs de Beyrouth in 1990. She worked for 20 years in the private sector, while also involved in several non-profit organizations. Angela’s professional career started in France, June of 1991.
At the time, the small software company Murex constituted of less than 20 employees; presently it has 1800 employees worldwide. In September of 1992, Angela and her husband relocated to the US, where she continued working remotely with Paris. As the company grew over the years Angela moved past software development and customer service, and took charge in leading new initiatives and teams. She created and managed the integration team (1995-2000), designed and managed the training department, which expanded from Paris to Dublin, New-York and Singapore (2000-2007), and built a centralized data repository with a complete workflow and process that allowed communication between the company’s different data types across its various departments (2007-2010).
In parallel to her professional life, Angela was always involved in various volunteer positions with varied organizations, primarily the Alif Institute. In 2009, Angela was invited to become Chair of the Strategic Planning committee of the Alif Institute. Angela then took the responsibility of co-chairing two years in a row a major festival organized by the Institute: the Atlanta Arab Festival, which took place in April of 2010 and in April of 2011. In September 2010, after almost 20 years of working in the private sector, Angela retired and decided to dedicate more time to the non-profit sector, particularly to the Alif Institute. In January of 2011 Angela joined the Board of Directors of the Alif Institute. She is currently serving as the Interim Executive Director of Alif Institute.
Emerson Scholarship for the Advancement of International Education
Human Services Major
Robin Schmidt Shore Endowed Scholarship
Barry and Sylvia Hyman Endowed International Education Scholarship
Ralph de la Vega
President & Chief Executive Officer
AT&T Mobile & Business Solutions
Ralph de la Vega was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Mobile & Business Solutions organization in August 2014. He has overall responsibility for the company’s wireless and business services operations, which serve more than 118 million mobile subscribers in the U.S. and more than 4 million business customers in 100 countries globally, including nearly all of the world’s Fortune 1000 companies.
In his previous role, Mr. de la Vega was President & CEO of AT&T Mobility. Under his leadership, AT&T Mobility became one of the world’s leading smartphone and mobile Internet providers and expanded into new growth areas such as connected cars, and home security and automation.
During his career he has held numerous executive positions, including Chief Operating Officer of Cingular Wireless and President of BellSouth Latin America. As the COO of Cingular Wireless, Mr. de la Vega was responsible for the integration of AT&T Wireless and Cingular Wireless, following the largest all-cash merger in U.S. history at the time. As President of BellSouth Latin America, he was responsible for wireless operations in 11 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela and Uruguay.
He serves on the boards of New York Life Insurance Company, the Georgia Aquarium,
Morehouse College, and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. He also serves as Chairman
of All-Markets Initiatives for the Boy Scouts of America and is a member of the board
of Junior Achievement Worldwide.
He has received numerous awards recognizing his leadership, including induction into the Atlanta Business Hall of Fame and the prestigious Global Innovation Award from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University.
Mr. de la Vega has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and a master’s degree in business administration from Northern Illinois University. He completed the Executive Program at the University of Virginia and received a Doctor Honoris Causa from FAU.
He is the author of the best-selling book Obstacles Welcome: Turn Adversity to Advantage in Business and Life (Thomas Nelson, 2009).
A native of Cuba, Mr. de la Vega and his family live in Atlanta, GA.
The 2015 Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth Distinguished Alumni Award for Exceptional Humanitarian and Service Achievement
Elizabeth Elango Bintliff
Vice-President of Africa Programs
Heifer Project International
Elizabeth Elango Bintliff is the Vice President of Africa Programs at Heifer Project International, where she has worked since 2000. Based in Little Rock, Ark., she leads Heifer’s program in Africa, managing a portfolio in 12 countries.
Born and raised in Cameroon, Elizabeth earned a Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs from Kennesaw State University, and has a Master’s in African Studies from Yale University. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Zanzibar and has worked in South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania. She started her career at the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta. She is fluent in English, French, Swahili and West African Krio.
Elizabeth is committed to development, especially for women in Africa, where she believes that giving three things – a choice, a voice and an opportunity – is key to changing the trajectory of development on the continent. Her commitment to fighting poverty and elevating the role of women is evident not just in her work abroad, but also in the U.S. where she serves on the Board of Directors of the Arkansas Foodbank and the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas, which promotes women in philanthropy and the empowerment of young girls.
Elizabeth holds a Master’s Certificate in Non-Profit Management from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and is a graduate of Leadership Arkansas; a program of the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce.
She has represented Heifer International on several local and national media appearances
including ABC’s World News Tonight in 2008 and The Colbert Report in 2009. In 2010
she was selected as “40 Under 40” by the Arkansas Business Chronicle. Elizabeth is
a recipient of the “Crowning Achievers” award by the NW Arkansas Chapter of Alpha
This award recognizes alumni who are highly distinguished in their profession and have made outstanding contributions to government, humanity, science, art, or human welfare. The recipient exemplifies the strength of their education at Kennesaw State University through dedicated international service which demonstrates the highest ideals of dedication to the welfare of communities outside of the United States.
The 2015 Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement
Dr. Laurence Sherr
Composer-in-Residence, Professor of Music
Kennesaw State University
Dr. Laurence Sherr is Composer-in-Residence and Professor of Music at KSU. International performances of his work have been given in Austria, Holland, Switzerland, Turkey, Japan, Canada, and Mexico. He has been awarded fellowships by the MacDowell Colony, the American Dance Festival, and Hot Springs National Park, among others. The Florida State University doctoral treatise Laurence Sherr: Chamber Music for Flute details his contribution, and CDs released by the Ein-Klang label in Europe and by Capstone Records in the U.S. include his compositions.
Sherr is active as a composer of Holocaust remembrance music, lecturer on Holocaust music topics, producer of remembrance events, and educator about Holocaust music.
He has performed and lectured in the Czech Republic, Germany, England, Israel, New Zealand, and across North America. The poetry of Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Nelly Sachs is featured in Sherr’s compositions Fugitive Footsteps and Flame Language.
In 2014, Sherr gave a keynote address at the Recovering Forbidden Voices international
conference in New Zealand, where his Holocaust works were performed seven times. That
same year, he lectured on his composition Flame Language at an international conference
in Leeds, England, where Fugitive Footsteps was performed, and at the Jewish Museum
He led a workshop on teaching music and the Holocaust at the 2012 International Conference on Holocaust Education at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, and his 2011 Prague Holocaust Remembrance Concert was staged under the auspices of the U.S. Embassy. His 2009 concert and educational activities in Germany, produced in collaboration with the children of the generation who persecuted his mother and her family, led to reconciliation and healing. He developed the global-citizenship course Music and the Holocaust at KSU.
Through all of this work, his purpose is to foster greater understanding and tolerance.
The Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement recognizes and honors a member of the full-time teaching faculty who has demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and creative activity, and professional service which embodies culturally diverse and pluralistic global perspectives; and effective and innovative teaching practices focused on preparing students to be responsible global leaders. The award highlights the importance of the international dimensions of the recipient’s contributions to his/her discipline or subject matter.
The 2015 Kennesaw State University Global Public Service Prize
Dr. Daisaku Ikeda
Soka Gakkai International
Daisaku Ikeda is a Buddhist philosopher, peacebuilder, educator, author and poet. He is the third president of the Soka Gakkai lay Buddhist organization and the founding president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), which is today one of the world's largest and most diverse lay Buddhist organizations, promoting a philosophy of character development and social engagement for peace.
Daisaku Ikeda heads Soka Gakkai International, one of the world's largest and most diverse Buddhist movements.
Ikeda is founder of the Soka (value-creation) schools, a nondenominational school system based on an ideal of fostering each student's unique creative potential and cultivating an ethic of peace, social contribution and global consciousness. The school system runs from kindergarten through graduate study and includes a university in Tokyo, Japan, and another in California, USA.
Ikeda is a staunch proponent of dialogue as the foundation of peace. Since the 1970s he has pursued dialogue with a wide range of individuals around the world in political, cultural, educational and academic fields. Over 50 of these have been published in book form, with people such as Mikhail Gorbachev, Elise Boulding, Joseph Rotblat and André Malraux. In furtherance of his vision of fostering dialogue and solidarity for peace, Ikeda has founded a number of independent, nonprofit research institutes that develop cross-cultural, interdisciplinary collaboration on diverse issues: the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century (renamed the Ikeda Center for Peace, Learning, and Dialogue in 2009), the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research and the Institute of Oriental Philosophy. The Min-On Concert Association and the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum promote mutual understanding and friendship between different national cultures through the arts.
Ikeda is a prolific writer who has published more than 100 works, ranging from Buddhist
philosophy to biographical essays, poetry, children's stories and photographic collections.
The GPS Prize is awarded in honor of an international figure that has made important contributions to public service in this country/region. This award is an annual recognition and commitment of support for international academic exchange between Kennesaw State University and the country/region for the Year of the Country Program.
The 2015 Division of Global Affairs Distinguished International Community Partner Award
Il Sasso Language School
Alberto Quinti studied at Liceo Scientifico Galileo Galilei in Siena and majored in History at Siena University. He has a Master’s Degree in Teaching Italian as a Second and Foreign Language.
In 1983, he founded the Cooperative Il Sasso School of Italian Language and Culture for Foreigners, where he currently serves as school director. From 1984 to 1988 Quinti conducted research into literacy problems in the municipal area of Montepulciano, and subsequently planned educational courses to improve the situation. Over the following years, he took on roles as a member of the Board of Directors of several institutions and foundations.
In 1999, Quinti was appointed Head of Culture of the Municipality of Montepulciano. From 2001 to 2009 he was the Representative of Comune di Montepulciano at the Fondazione Musei Senesi; and from 2003 to 2009 he was a Member of the Board of Directors of the Library and Historical Archive of the City of Montepulciano. For the last ten years he has also been a Member of the Board of Directors of the Fondazione Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte di Montepulciano.
Quinti has signed several agreements in the field of cultural politics in Montepulciano,
such as the agreement between the Municipality of Montepulciano and the Music Academy
of Koln (Germany), which now maintains its foreign department in Montepulciano, and
is an original signatory on the Montepuliano Fortezza Project, which led to Kennesaw
State establishing a permanent home on the city.
This award recognizes a local or international partner that has worked with Kennesaw State to establish a sustained project or initiative demonstrating outstanding achievement in and commitment to international outreach and engagement.
The 2015 Emerson Scholarship for the Advancement of International Education
Exercise Science Major
WellStar College of Health & Human Services
Destiny Nieves is a second-year student in the Exercise Science program at WellStar College of Health and Human Services. She will be attending the education abroad program, China Revealed Through its Math Education and Culture, this summer.
A self-defined “fitness nerd,” Destiny transferred to Kennesaw State University after beginning her college career at Emory, where she studied Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. She quickly realized her passion was exercise science, and enrolled at Kennesaw State to pursue that dream.
Destiny’s time at Kennesaw State University has been distinguished by a series of successes inside and outside the classroom. Her name consistently appears on the Dean’s List, and she is a member of the Delta Epsilon Iota Honor Society and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Destiny has a strong desire to help her fellow students succeed, which inspired her to join the Odyssey Peer Mentoring group, and to form her own campus organization, called Kindness Inspires Kindness, which encourages students to commit random acts of kindness.
While attending Stockbridge High School, Destiny loaded her schedule with advance placement classes, foreign language courses, and a variety of extracurricular activities, including National Honors Society, Art Club, and Varsity Volleyball. Thanks to all of her hard work, Destiny graduated Valedictorian.
Destiny has had a lifetime desire to learn about other cultures around the world.
In high school, she served as Vice-President of the National Beta Club and an officer
in the Thespian Society, which gave her plenty of experience interacting with international
students. As the recipient of the first-ever Emerson Scholarship for the Advancement
of International Education, Destiny is looking forward to visiting China and learning
more about its rich culture via the “international languages of science and math.”
The purpose of the Emerson Award is to provide financial assistance to support students who desire to participate in a Division of Global Affairs education abroad program, specifically one that includes a formal service -learning or community engagement component. Recipients will receive $800 that will be applied towards the fees associated with the education abroad program.
The 2014 Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth Distinguished Alumni Award for Exceptional Humanitarian and Service Achievement
Cultural Advisor, Trainer, Interpreter
U.S. Armed Forces
Yusof Sari is an experienced cultural advisor, lead trainer, and interpreter for the U.S. Armed Forces. He currently works with multiple government contractors to help train U.S. soldiers on Afghani languages and customs. Yusof’s efforts help ensure that military operations in Afghanistan are sensitive to the country’s diverse cultural landscape. He graduated from Kennesaw State University in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. While attending KSU, Yusof was active in student government, and helped create the Islamic Student Association and the Kennesaw International Student Association. Following the start of military actions in Afghanistan in 2003, he left his successful accounting career to work with the United States Agency for International Development as a senior advisor to the Ministry of Finance. Since 2006, he has contracted with the U.S. Armed Forces, offering cultural training and interpreter services to troops at multiple bases, including Fort Polk, LA., Fort Bragg, NC. and Fort Irwin, CA.
2014 Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement
Dr. Terry Powis
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Kennesaw State University
Dr. Powis is Principal Investigator for the Pacbitun Regional Archaeological Project (PRAP). He has led several excavations in Pacbitun, Belize, which have yielded important findings about trade, social stratification, and the culture of pre-classical Mayan civilization. He has invited students to participate in these excavations, giving them experience working in real archeological sites. Dr. Powis’ research has been published in several high-profile journals, including Nature and Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. He has also published a book about his research called New Perspectives on Formative Mesoamerican Cultures. Dr. Powis is a passionate supporter of international learning. He is the College of Humanities and Social Science’s Global Learning Coordinator and is former member of the Canadian Fulbright Scholar Selection Committee.
The 2014 Kennesaw State University Global Public Service Prize
H.E. John Dramani Mahama
President of the Republic of Ghana
The Global Public Service Award recognizes international figures that have made important public service contributions in their countries. Since becoming president in 2012, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama has served as an ambassador for the Global Fund to champion worldwide vaccination and immunization efforts. In 2013 he received the Africa Award for Excellence in Food Security and Poverty Reduction from the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa. In 2013, President Mahama became the first-ever sitting president to visit Kennesaw State University, where he recognized KSU’s commitment to internationalization.
The 2014 Division of Global Affairs Distinguished International Community Partner Award
Dr. Nell Diallo
Dr. Nell Diallo is vice president of corporate and international relations for Medshare, a non-profit organization that collects surplus medical supplies and equipment from hospitals, distributors and manufacturers, and then redistributes them to qualified healthcare facilities in the developing world. MedShare has hosted KSU nursing students and members of the KSU LINK leadership program as volunteers to help sort and assemble medical supply orders, and has provided medical supplies to KSU study abroad students to deliver to clinics in Oaxaca Mexico. In 2008, KSU and the University of Cape Coast in Ghana worked with MedShare to ship $500,000 worth of medical supplies to the UCC Hospital. Prior to her 15 years at MedShare, Dr. Diallo worked for several international organizations, including serving as director of the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID) in Congo. She is bilingual and has spent many years of her career living in Africa.