On Friday, May 16, 2014, Wheelock College will recognize three honorary degree recipients, talented leaders who embody the spirit of the undergraduate and graduate Commencement theme of “Innovation. Access. Opportunity.” Through their tireless dedication to increasing access to quality healthcare and education, they have improved the lives of innumerable children and families throughout the world. Honorees include Howard K. Koh, David C. Banks, and Mary Tiseo.
Since 1998, Mary Tiseo has been the founding Executive Director of South Africa Partners, a nonprofit organization facilitating mutually beneficial partnerships between U.S. and South Africa in the areas of health and education. Working with community organizations, academic institutions, and state and local government, SA Partners brings together practitioners from both countries who are committed to addressing social, political, and economic needs in a manner that strengthens communities, builds institutional capacity, and fosters local leadership. In addition to supporting partnership development, SA Partners is responsible for several development projects, including an empowerment and advocacy network for people living with HIV and AIDS, a community based Early Childhood Development initiative in the Province of the Eastern Cape, and the transfer of Harvard School of Public Health executive leadership training methodologies to two universities in South Africa.
Over the past twenty-five years, Tiseo has traveled extensively in South Africa, developing a broad network of contacts that serve as formal and informal advisors to the work of South Africa Partners. Her involvement has included raising funds to support anti-apartheid activities in South Africa and the frontline states of Tanzania and Zambia, organizing support for South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, and facilitating institutional partnerships between the United States and South Africa in the areas of health and education.
“We are thrilled to be honoring three exceptional leaders who share an unwavering commitment to our mission of improving the lives of children and families,” said Wheelock President Jackie Jenkins-Scott. “Our Commencement theme truly reflects the life work of our three honorees.”
It’s also worth noting that South Africa Partners was instrumental in the launch of Wheelock College’s South Africa service-learning trip. Wheelock is South Africa Partners’ U.S. partner in the Early Childhood Project in the Eastern Cape (similarly, Harvard is their partner in a healthcare leadership project). This summer, Professors Bobbi Rosenquest and Lenette Azzi-Lessing will spend two weeks, along with South Africa Partners staff, in East London, South Africa, launching this Early Childhood project.