United States

Lifetime Advocacy Award Given to IES Abroad President & CEO

“Our hope resides in the next generations of such talented young people.”

A similarity between IES Abroad's mission and our President and CEO, Mary M. Dwyer, Ph.D., is how crucial they view diversity and inclusion in their work. It comes as no surprise to IES Abroad staff, then, that Dr. Dwyer was recently honored with the Lifetime Advocate for Inclusivity Award at the Women in International Education (WIE) Awards in Berlin on November 2.

The award, sponsored by Lead5050 and the Global Leadership League, recognizes women in leadership roles for their commitment to diversity and inclusion in international education. In addition to being one of the first female CEOs of a study abroad provider, Dr. Dwyer is also a highly effective leader and has been committed to improving and diversifying the field during her tenure. Sarah E. Spencer, Director of Global Strategy for The Global Leadership League, said: "Mary has been an amazing leader within the study abroad field for many years. I am honored to recognize her leadership to make international education more inclusive—from the many things that expand access for students—to her support of women professionals in and outside of IES Abroad."

Dr. Dwyer’s unwavering commitment to IES Abroad’s mission in ensuring as many students as possible have the opportunity to study abroad has allowed us to award over $5 million in study abroad scholarships and aid during the 2019-20 year. This solidifies IES Abroad as one of the most financially generous study abroad program providers throughout its almost 70-year history.

To grow our underrepresented student enrollment, IES Abroad launched the Initiative to Diversify Education Abroad (IDEA) in 2011. Dr. Dwyer cited the importance of the IDEA initiative in her acceptance speech at the WIE award ceremony, but also recognized that there is always room to grow: “We know that the true benefits of diversification are not limited to increasing numbers. We are focusing on re-tooling our curriculum to take full advantage of the learning that diversification in classes can bring to all of our students."

However, Dr. Dwyer understands that our focus is not only on the diversity and inclusivity of our student body—representation is also necessary within the international education profession. She has made considerable efforts to support her fellow female colleagues in the field, which include the members of the IES Abroad board. In addition, she has also been a committed proponent for the inclusion of women on key committees through serving in influential roles such as one of the U.S. Congressional appointees on the Abraham Lincoln Commission on Study Abroad; a founding member, Board Vice Chair, and Board Chair of the Forum on Education Abroad; and the Chair of the Rhodes Scholars Selection Committee for the Midwest region for seven years.

Dr. Dwyer has also previously been awarded the PIE News Outstanding Contribution to the Industry, Notable Women Executives Over 50 list by Crain's Chicago Business, and the Coffey Award (alumna of the year) from Loyola University Chicago, to name a few. Her leadership continues to be an inspiration to those in the field, both inside and outside of IES Abroad.

“I’m confident that if we listen to our better voices, we will see societal improvements,” she said to her colleagues at the awards ceremony in Berlin. “I’m very privileged to be able to serve in a field that is committed to understanding cultures and building bridges, not walls… Together, we can make a transformative difference for a brighter future.”

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Lina Hu

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