At a recent Washington, D.C. ceremony the Peace Corps awarded Middlebury Institute alumnus Ravi Dutta MPA ’09 one of its highest honors: the Franklin H. Williams Award.
“Serving in the Peace Corps was a life-changing experience,” says Dutta, who served in Peace Corps in Namibia from 2003-05. “It made me want to work in international development, but I needed a bridge towards higher level work in the field, and the Institute was that bridge.”
Established in 1999, the Franklin H. Williams Award “pays tribute to returned Peace Corps Volunteers of color who continue the Peace Corps mission through their commitment to community service, and who support the agency’s third goal of promoting a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.”
After graduating, Dutta moved on to positions with Save the Children in Indonesia, the Emerging Markets Development Advisers Program (EMDAP) in Jordan, and the Carter Center’s South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Program. Most recently, he worked as an EMDAP adviser and coordinator with the American Chamber of Commerce in Laos.
Dutta’s Peace Corps experience led him directly to the Institute. During his service, “some Peace Corps staff members recommended MIIS. I also discovered that MIIS alumni and faculty included Sam Farr, the Peace Corps’ strongest advocate in the U.S. Congress; Peter Grothe, an important figure in drafting the original legislation for the Peace Corps; and Beryl Levinger, former vice president of CARE and Save the Children and founder of the Peace Corps Fellows program. Finally, I visited MIIS and saw that one third of the students were from all over the world and many of the American students had similar experiences to mine.” Says Dutta: “That’s when I knew it was the place for me. MIIS gave me the tools to take this passion to the next level.”
The Franklin H. Williams Award is named for the former Peace Corps Regional Director for Africa and U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, who was “instrumental in assisting the first Peace Corps Director, Sargent Shriver, in advancing the agency’s mission across the globe.” Four awards were given this year, with Dutta receiving the award for the West region of the U.S.