Our Heritage and the Award in the United States of America



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 140 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

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

Dr. Michael Clarke
Master Scheduler and Gradebook Consultant,
District of Columbia Public Schools, Washington, DC

Gary Davis, Treasurer
Deputy Secretary General, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation

Jim DiBiasi, Secretary
President, 3D Communications

Richard Gulliver
President, HUB International Limited

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

Honorary Board

Stephen Bridges, LVO
Managing Director, Grant Thornton

Our Staff

Elizabeth Higgins-Beard, MPH
Chief Executive Officer

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

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.


Joyce Randall, MA
National Program Director

Joyce earned her Bachelor of Arts in History and Africana studies from the University of Notre Dame. She went on to earn her Masters of Arts in Teaching from National-Louis University. Raised in the United Methodist church, Joyce learned a commitment to serving others and the importance of being active within one’s community. From teaching English to children in Los Palmitos, Costa Rica to tutoring children after school to working in a residential treatment center for wards of the state, Joyce has passion for reaching out and empowering youth. Joyce worked in education for eight years, in neighborhood schools in the Chicago Public School District as well as a part of a pioneering group of teachers bred to staff the nation’s first turn-around schools within the Academy of Urban School Leadership network, eventually becoming a Curriculum and Instructional Coach. She joins The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award excited to bring her experience and expertise in managing people and curriculum design to our Program Team.


Steven Funk, MA, Ed
Regional Program Officer, Northeast and South Regions

Steven has experience as a high school classroom teacher and a program manager for an education start-up. His background also includes an M.A. in International Education from NYU. Steve leads an active outdoor lifestyle and is a strong advocate for education, community engagement and international cultural exchange as tools for producing engaged young adults. Steve is also an active board member for the NYC chapter of Amigos de las Americas. In fall 2016, he transitioned from a position as Program Officer with the previous New York Metropolitan Area chapter and joined the national office as Regional Program Officer for the Northeast Region, continuing to be based in NYC.


Jamie Bourne, MMLIS
Operations Manager

A natural organizer of information, Jamie holds a Master of Library Science and a Master of Information Science from Indiana University.  She worked at various records management and library positions before embarking on a new career in nonprofit operations management.  In her previous position, she supported a growing nonprofit and managed bookkeeping, payroll, financial reporting, and then just about anything else.  She is constantly learning on the job and can attest that “There is more in you than you think.”  Now an experienced bookkeeper and office manager, Jamie is committed to supporting the team and the mission at Award USA.



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