Our Heritage and the Award in the United States of America

 

OUR HERITAGE

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award was founded by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh KG, KT in 1956, in conjunction with Kurt Hahn, the German educationalist. Both were concerned that young people’s development was lacking in certain key areas, and they resolved to create a program that would be a ‘do-it-yourself kit in the art of civilized living’.

The subsequent spread of the Award across the globe is testament to the universal appeal of the program, and the vision of its founder. However, even HRH admits that this took him by surprise: “When the first trial of the Award was launched in 1956, no one had any idea quite what would happen. It was an instant success, and the Award has been growing and expanding worldwide ever since.”

The Award is now delivered in more than 130 countries worldwide, reaching over one million young people annually and over five million Awards achieved since 1956.

 

The Award in the USA

The vision of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA is to inspire and empower young Americans, from all backgrounds and communities, to challenge themselves and exceed expectations. Our ambition is to reach one percent of the youth population, or 470,000 young people, in the USA by the year 2026.

To achieve our goal and transform the lives of young people across the USA, we aim to collaborate with established youth serving serving organizations and schools, train and deploy dedicated and highly skilled community volunteers and engage the strategic support of individual and corporate stakeholders.

 

Our Leaders

Our Board

Award USA Board, September 2019

Award USA Board, September 2019 (front row, left to right): Ben Morris, Ryan Ruskin, Lisa Metzger-Mugg, Nichelle Carr, Elizabeth Higgins-Beard, Anne Wallestad, Melek DeWint; (back row, left to right): David Clarke, Rick Gulliver, Jim DiBiasi, Richard Pinola

Award USA Board Membership:

Nichelle S. Carr, President
President, West City One Studios

Jim DiBiasi, Secretary/Treasurer
President, 3D Communications

Anne Wallestad
CEO, BoardSource

Ben Morris
Director of Finance, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation

Amber Kennelly
Chief Human Resources Officer, HUB International Limited

Richard Pinola
Principal, Fortuna Capital Advisors, LLC, Investment Counselors

Ryan Ruskin
President & CEO, The Ruskin Group

Board Members Emeritus:

Gregory Belton

Michael Clarke

Rick Gulliver

Honorary Board

Stephen Bridges, LVO
Managing Director, Grant Thornton

Kim Katz
Senior Financial Advisor & Principal, Private Wealth Management, AB Bernstein

David Hryck
Partner, Reed Smith

Matt Mitchell
Partner, Morse, Barnes-Brown, & Peddleton, PC

Daniel Singer
Founder & CEO, Filthy Foods

Our Staff

Elizabeth Higgins-Beard, MPH
Chief Executive Officer
ehigginsbeard@usaward.org
312-600-9118

Elizabeth has led teams for over 20 years in agencies empowering youth and families. Prior to joining the Duke Of Edinburgh’s International Award she held executive management positions at a grassroots resource center covering DuPage County Illinois and steered the dynamic growth of a highly acclaimed youth agency in Chicago. She manages large volunteer staffs and strategically grows organizations through all development facets. Known for her catalyzing input, community friend-raising, ability to activate teams, and fundraising, she leads organizations to new levels of program quality. Her teaching extends from the Dominican Republic to inner-city Detroit to Chicagoland. She earned her Masters of Public Health at the University of Michigan. She is a past co-founder of the Northwestern University, Alliance for Research in Chicagoland Communities. Elizabeth is also a past Drake University National Alumni Board member and Regional President, Arts DuPage Steering Committee founder, and IRB reviewer for Northwestern Medicine. She currently is an active volunteer to the Girl Scouts of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, Boy Scouts Three Fires Council, as well as active in several civic and social justice programs. She spends much of her free time with her family in outdoor recreation activities including camping, trail running and hiking trips, cross country skiing, and canoeing.

 

Lisa Metzger-Mugg, PhD
Vice President of Program and Operations

lmetzgermugg@usaward.org
312-265-1133

Lisa Metzger-Mugg has a proven track record of innovative leadership with over 20 years of experience in program strategy, research and evaluation, finance, human resources, operations, and expanded engagement of stakeholders at a number of educational institutions. Prior to joining Award USA, she spent ten years at Northwestern University where she led strategic planning, institutional research, budget and resource allocation, divisional communications, and planning of several Board of Trustees committees. Prior to Northwestern, she led the Research and Evaluation unit at the City Colleges of Chicago and conducted clinical research at Johns Hopkins University. She received her bachelor’s degree from Valparaiso University, her master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, and her Ph.D. from Loyola University Chicago. She also teaches graduate students at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University where her research area is in improving educational pathways and outcomes for marginalized and at-risk students.

 

Raha Dempsey
Program Officer
rdempsey@usaward.org
312-763-2087

Raha is a former educator and advocate with passion for equity and youth development. She brings experience in strategy, program development, and relationship management from her previous work as an educational consultant for a high need district outside Los Angeles, a member of the leadership team in an organization focused on college and career readiness programs for high school students, as well as a middle school teacher. Raha has a Masters in Urban Education Policy from Brown University and is a graduate of the University of Missouri with degrees in Journalism and History. She’s currently on the board of New Leaders Council Chicago Chapter and sits on two Local School Councils as Community Representative.

 

Jennifer PowerJennifer Power, MPP, MAT
Program Officer

jpower@usaward.org
213-267-4441

Jenny brings to Award USA ten years of experience in the education sector and a skillset rooted in instructional practice, strategy development, data analysis, and program management. Previously, she worked at a national foundation supporting grantmaking to teacher and school leader training and development, with a focus on project based learning and innovative school models. She also coordinated the development and launch of an organization-wide evaluation framework and comprehensive grant reporting system. Jenny has experience as a nonprofit coordinator and a high school teacher, and is deeply committed to educational equity and expanding opportunities to learn outside of the traditional classroom setting. Jenny earned an MPP from the University of Southern California, an MAT from Dominican University of Illinois, and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley.

Our Alumni Award Leaders

Isabel Beariault, Bronze & Silver Award Holder
ibeariault@usaward.org

Isabel Beariault holds Silver and Bronze Awards from the Duke of Edinburgh. She has been participating in the program for the past five years and has used her expertise to create an Award Center in the Maryland area. Through that initiative, Isabel has guided more than 20 students to achieving their Bronze and Silver Awards. Outside of the Award, Isabel volunteers for Engineers in Action, an organization focused on building bridges in rural areas all around the world. She spent the summer of 2020 designing a program to send students to West Virginia to build vehicular bridges. Isabel is currently studying to earn her undergraduate degree from Cornell University. In her free time, Isabel enjoys skiing and rock climbing. She is a member of the Junior Varsity Downhill Ski Team at Cornell.

 

Víctor Echániz, Bronze & Silver Award Holder
vechaniz@usaward.org

Víctor Echániz has been fully engaged with The Award for 5 years. During those years, he completed his Bronze and Silver levels and is almost done with his Gold award as well.  He served as a peer mentor to many young candidates at his Award Center.  Having grown up as a member of the Worldwide Hungarian Scouting Association, Víctor spent much of his time outdoors, exploring new passions and meeting new people. This led to his discovery of The Award, where he was able to fully engage with the program to further explore the world.  The Award has taken him all across New England and even to Tanzania for his Gold Residential Project.

VĂ­ctor is also a very passionate musician and is currently realizing his dream of studying at Berklee College of Music, double majoring in Music Production & Engineering and Music Business. During his free time, VĂ­ctor actively plays many sports, plays and produces music, loves to watch movies, and has even had a go at writing and directing his own feature short film.

 

Aaron Murray, Silver Award Holder
amurray@usaward.org

Aaron Murray has held numerous leadership positions in Scouts throughout the world. In the United States, he held a variety of roles over the years at Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia, Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, Northern Tier in Minnesota, and Florida Sea Base. He has also worked internationally at the Great Tower Activity Centre in Windermere, England, at the Gilwell Park Scout Centre in Chingford, England, and at the Kandersteg International Scout Centre in Kandersteg, Switzerland. Additionally, he is a Committee Member at Large in the Transatlantic Council. Aaron received his Silver Award from The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA in April 2019. He also received his Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America and is certified as an open water diver. Aaron is passionate about youth development and helping others become the best version of themselves by encouraging them along their journey.

 

Rosie Westerbeck, Gold Award Holder
rwesterbeck@usaward.org

Rosie’s passion for Award USA can be tracked back to when she was part of the pilot Virtual Award Program. Rosie’s dedication and hard work helped her achieve the Gold Award in 2019. Her Gold Residential Project was in Cyprus, where Rosie worked with international students from Kuwait who were also on their Award journeys. With Rosie’s background in travel, she was able to easily navigate the communication barrier as she helped her students set and achieve progressive goals with an energetic zeal. She has been a strong advocate of Award USA for years, first as a participant and now as an Alumni Award Leader. Her contagious enthusiasm for the program is evident to everyone she works with.

Rosie brings to Award USA seven years of experience in the nonprofit realm. From starting her own nonprofit, The Red Wagon Campaign, to now serving as the Operations Manager at Prolanthropy, an organization that manages professional athletes’ nonprofits across the United States. Rosie has received many accolades for her volunteer work, including the Ohio School Board’s Humanitarian of the Year Award, National Points of Light Honoree, and the Ohio Senate Outstanding Citizen Recognition, but her most cherished is The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in marketing from Northern Kentucky University.

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