Passing the Torch: Award USA Announces Departure of Buffy Higgins-Beard, CEO

Press Release
Release April 19, 2024

After co-founding The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award USA during the past seven years, offering tireless efforts to further Award USA’s mission and values, Buffy Higgins-Beard has announced that she will be departing from her role as Chief Executive Officer this spring. Since 2017, Buffy has been a driving force behind Award USA’s opening and strong establishment of the US national offices for the Award.

A few highlights of the work accomplished at Award USA in those seven years includes:

“It has been an honor to bring The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award to the USA and to work with a talented team of staff, volunteers, and supporters to establish it in country.  In 2023 we reached nearly 1000 young people active or receiving Awards across the US. I’m proud of the manner in which we’ve met challenges throughout my tenure in start-up, responding to the pandemic, hosting our global patron multiple times, and growing the organization’s foundational pieces. I feel such tremendous momentum and hear regularly from young people and their mentors, the Award framework makes a difference to their well being and future. I look forward to the Award being available across the US as it ambitiously scales,” said Buffy Higgins-Beard, Award USA’s CEO.

“Buffy has built a solid foundation for Award USA on every level, from donors to staff to program partners, that positions us well to achieve our next set of aggressive goals to become the leading youth achievement organization across the country,” shared Ryan Ruskin, Award USA’s Chair of the Board of Directors. “She brought the ideal combination of competent leadership, collaborative spirit, results focus, and professional management that is needed to launch and scale a new business model. Yet, I believe that her legacy will also include her unwavering dedication to young people’s well-being, while always seeing the best in those she works alongside, as evidenced by the deep respect of her Duke of Edinburgh Award peers and colleagues in the U.S. and in so many other countries around the world. I cannot thank her enough for her incredible passion and partnership in our work together to help young people become #worldready.”

During this time of transition, the Board voted to approve the appointment of Dr. Lisa Metzger-Mugg, Award USA’s current Vice President of Program and Operations, as Interim CEO.

“I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Buffy for her exceptional leadership in building our organization to where it is today. It has been a privilege to work alongside her to empower young people in America through Award USA. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished together. I’m thrilled to take on this role and continue our mission of inspiring young people from every background and community to discover their purpose, passion, and place in this world. I am inspired by the positive impact of our participants, the dedication of my Award USA colleagues, and the enthusiasm of our Award Centers,” said Dr. Lisa Metzger-Mugg.

Lisa is passionate about youth education and has been with Award USA for over five years. Previously, Lisa was Chief of Staff in the Office of the Executive Vice President at Northwestern University and teaches in their School of Education and Social Policy. Lisa will be supported by the Governing Board’s leadership team. The Board has set up a Transition Committee to search for a permanent CEO.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is a global, non-formal education framework which challenges young people to develop new skills, get physically active, learn about teamwork and leadership through adventurous journeys and volunteer giving back within their communities.  The US office is entering in 2024 its 8th year of operations since opening July 2016.  It is part of the world’s leading framework operating in over 130 countries and territories around the world, available to all young people ages 14 to 24 inclusive of their background, culture, physical ability, skills, and interests.

The transitions taking place at Award USA will showcase our organizational values in perseverance, inclusivity, leadership, and teamwork. We look forward to finding our next dynamic leader with a deep dedication to Award USA’s mission to help more young people find their purpose, passion and place in the world.




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