Press Release

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Announces Two New Hilton Humanitarian Prize Jurors

March 12, 2019

Leymah Gbowee and Zainab Salbi Accept Invitation to Serve on Prestigious Jury

Westlake Village, Calif. (March 12, 2019) – The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation today announced that Leymah Gbowee, Nobel prize recipient and founder and president of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa based in Liberia, and Zainab Salbi, global humanitarian and founder of Women for Women International, will join the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize jury, beginning with the selection of the 2019 recipient. Gbowee and Salbi become jurors as Strive Masiyiwa, humanitarian and founder and executive chairman of Econet Wireless, and Princess Salimah Aga Khan, international ambassador for SOS Kinderdorf International, complete their terms.

Leymah Gbowee Zainab Salbi

Leymah Gbowee and Zainab Salbi.

The Hilton Humanitarian Prize is the world’s largest annual humanitarian award at $2 million, presented to nonprofit organizations judged to have made extraordinary contributions toward alleviating human suffering. To date, 23 NGOs have been named Hilton Humanitarian Prize laureates.

“We are honored with Leymah Gbowee and Zainab Salbi’s participation on this jury. They each represent the highest ideals of leadership, strength and compassion through their boundary-breaking work with girls and women around the world,” Hilton Foundation President and CEO Peter Laugharn said. “It is impossible to overstate the ways each of them has dramatically affected the life outcomes for millions of people around the world. I speak for the entire Foundation when I share my excitement at welcoming them to this distinguished panel of international jurors who together will select organizations doing remarkable work and further highlight the need for greater humanitarian aid in the world.”

Gbowee brings with her an esteemed background full of achievement. In 2011, Gbowee won the Nobel Peace Prize for her leadership in the women’s peace movement that helped end the Second Liberian Civil War. She was behind the mobilization of an interreligious coalition called the “Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace” movement, which played an instrumental role in encouraging women to take part in nonviolent protests and more to promote peace in the region. Gbowee is a global leader whose participation was in demand at meetings of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and other major international conferences. She went on to found Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, which seeks to provide leadership and education opportunities across Africa. Gbowee’s story was featured in the 2008 documentary film “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” and her 2011 memoir, “Mighty Be Our Powers.”

“There are among us, activists and organizers and community builders who every day seek to heal the injustices of the world,” Gbowee said. “Their spirit of care and relentless hard work opens the gates of opportunity for those experiencing poverty or pain. I am so pleased and honored to join the Hilton Humanitarian Prize jury to bring light and recognition to those working to recalibrate the course of humanity for the better.”

Salbi’s achievements have been recognized by numerous organizations, including People Magazine naming her as one of the “25 Women Changing the World” in 2016, Foreign Policy Magazine naming her as one of the “100 Leading Global Thinkers,” and Fast Company identifying her as one of the 100 “Most Creative People in Business.” Salbi is a best-selling author of such books as “Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam,” “If You Knew Me You Would Care,” and her latest, “Freedom is an Inside Job.” She is also the host and creator of several TV shows, including “#MeToo, Now What?” on PBS and a new original series with Yahoo News! “Through Her Eyes with Zainab Salbi.” Early in her career, at age 23, Salbi founded 2006 Hilton Humanitarian Prize laureate Women for Women International, a grassroots humanitarian and development organization dedicated to serving women survivors of wars. The organization offers support, tools, and access to life-changing skills to move from crisis and poverty to stability and economic self-sufficiency. Under her leadership, Women for Women International grew from helping 30 women upon its inception to more than 420,000 women in eight conflict areas and has also distributed more than $120 million in direct aid and microcredit loans that impacted more than 1.7 million family members.

“The Hilton Humanitarian Prize recipients and all those who are nominated show tremendous courage and fullness of the human spirit, often in the face of the most unyielding circumstances,” Salbi said. “It is with the greatest respect for their work, perseverance and resilience, and the inspiration we draw from them, that I am honored to join the Hilton Humanitarian Prize jury. I look forward to participating in what I know to be a deep and rewarding experience that advances effective ways to address society’s most pressing needs.”

As the two new jurors come aboard, Princess Salimah Aga Khan and Strive Masiyiwa will complete their jury service. Princess Salimah Aga Khan was appointed in 2000 as the first SOS-Kinderdorf International Ambassador for Children, itself a Hilton Humanitarian Prize laureate, and is actively involved in that organization’s work. Masiyiwa is the founder and executive chairman of Econet Wireless, a global telecommunications company whose activities include mobile cellular telephony, fixed networks, enterprise networks, fiber optic cables and satellite services.

“We are grateful for the contributions both Masiyiwa and Princess Salimah have made through their many years of service on the Hilton Humanitarian Prize jury, and we have a deep well of gratitude for their dedication and commitment to the selection process,” said Maggie Miller, director of the Hilton Humanitarian Prize at the Hilton Foundation. “We feel exceptionally fortunate to welcome two new, extraordinary individuals to the jury, both of whom bring a wealth of wisdom and experience to the panel.”

Recent recipients of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize include SHOFCO (Shining Hope for Communities), icddr,b and the Task Force for Global Health. A list of all Hilton Humanitarian Prize laureates can be found here.

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