By Devin Hibbard

What an incredible experience in Monaco accepting the PeaceJam Billion Acts award for Best Non-Profit of 2017. This title is named by 14 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, including Oscar Arias, the former President of Costa Rica.

Not only is this a remarkable recognition of the transformative power Street Business School has in helping women lift their families out of poverty, it is personally a deep honor for me.

I enrolled at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs in 2001 and on the first day met Dean Marc Lindenberg. He’d spent his career alternating between academia and working with CARE and other international development agencies. Marc was an inspiring leader who welcomed everyone’s ideas and referred to his students as ‘colleagues.’

Fluent in Spanish and wicked on the harmonica in the student talent shows, Marc, his wife Cathy, and their family had lived in Costa Rica for years and became confidants of Oscar Arias. Marc often spoke of his time with Arias- what he had learned from this brilliant president, and how Arias navigated the difficult politics of Latin America.

Marc died suddenly at the end of my first school year and I was devastated. As someone who wanted to spend her career in global development, he was a shining example of someone who understood the global issues, while still caring deeply about each human interaction. One of the proudest moments of my life to this day, is when Marc singled out my paper for praise in a class he taught. After he died, I became the first Research Assistant at the Marc Lindenberg Center for Humanitarian Action, International Development, & Global Citizenship.

As I encounter challenges at BeadforLife, I often wonder what Marc would advise. He has held an unseen presence as we have grown over the years, and was in my mind as we launched Street Business School as an effective strategy to help 1 million women lift their families from poverty.

The last time I saw President Arias was when he flew in to speak at Marc’s memorial. This past weekend, I met President Arias and told him of my friendship with Marc. I shared how his mentorship of Marc had turned into impact through BeadforLife, creating a full circle of connection. Seeing his face light up during this moment, was yet another moment I will never forget.

It was a true honor to accept the Peace Jam award from President Arias, and I dedicate it not only to the million women who will lift their families out of poverty through our work, but also to the legacy of Marc Lindenberg.