Children’s Place International Hero Awards

At the annual Place the Hope celebration, Children’s Place International honors individuals who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to helping children overcome extreme poverty.

Individuals can be nonprofit team members, philanthropists, private sector leaders or volunteers who have played a significant role in helping children overcome extreme poverty.

Past Hero Award Recipients

F. Chite Asirwa, MD

Dr. F. Chite Asirwa is a leader and pioneer in the treatment of cancer in children and adults in Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Asirwa is the Field Director of the Oncology and Hematology Program at AMPATH, Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Visiting Faculty at Moi University & Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. AMPATH is a consortium of North American universities, led by Indiana University, collaborating with Kenya’s Moi University. AMPATH provides healthcare to hundreds of thousands of Kenyans. Under Dr. Asirwa’s leadership, the number of patients treated at AMPATH’s cancer clinic in Western Kenya has grown from 400 patients in 2011 to 10,000 patients in 2017. A hematologist and medical oncologist, Dr. Asirwa’s many contributions include providing direct clinical care to cancer patients, building Kenyan and, more generally, Sub-Saharan African capacity to address cancer through oncology education and training and leading and participating in numerous research studies. Through Children’s Place International’s Healthcare Partners for Access initiative, Dr. Asirwa and the AMPATH team are currently collaborating with a team from Takeda Pharmaceuticals to establish a program to address Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a particularly aggressive form of pediatric cancer.

Honorable Princess Kasune Zulu of Zambia

Honorable Princess Kasune Zulu of Zambia s an HIV-positive woman from who gained international recognition for her advocacy on behalf of children, especially those affected by HIV/AIDS. In 2016 she was elected to Zambia’s Parliament, the first member to openly declare her HIV-positive status. Her advocacy began in her teens, soon after she lost her parents and siblings to AIDS. As a young girl, Princess volunteered in local hospitals to care for HIV/AIDS patients. As a young woman, she hitch-hiked across Zambia to educate truck drivers about HIV/AIDS. Princess launched two NGOs to help those impacted by illness, including Foundation of Life, a school and home for orphans. The nonprofit now partners with rural communities to build schools, clinics and clean water capacity. Princess also hosted her own HIV-focused radio show called “Positive Living.” Sponsored by UNICEF, it ran for five years, broadcasting in eight languages. She has met with many world leaders and spoken at health forums across the globe, including Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Romania, Spain, Thailand, the United Kingdom and, more extensively, in the United States.

Konbit Lasante pou Limonad

There is no English term similar to the Haitian Creole word “Konbit,” but a rough translation would be “cooperative” or “working together.” And that’s what this nonprofit is all about – Working Together for Health in Limonade, Haiti. Konbit was founded in 2006 by a group of caring people in Columbus, Indiana who made a connection with the community of Limonade, Haiti. The organization is focused on improving the health and wellbeing of the people who live in this northern agricultural area.

Konbit is Children’s Place International’s longest continuing partner, supporting our work since 2008. Its contributions total nearly $200,000. Konbit has directly impacted the lives of hundreds of vulnerable children through sponsorship of projects in Limonade targeting impoverished families. With funding from Konbit and other partners, Children’s Place International provides Haitian children affected by HIV/AIDS and their families with biweekly visits and basic needs including food and clean water, medical care assistance and supportive services.

Gary Harper, PhD, MPH

Gary Harper is a Professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and a member of the Children’s Place International Board of Directors.  For more than 20 years Dr. Harper has worked to respond to the needs of young people, especially those marginalized by poverty, sexual orientation, or race. He has worked collaboratively with community partners to develop and evaluate culturally and developmentally appropriate health interventions for thousands of youth in the U.S. and Africa. Since 2004, Dr. Harper worked with Children’s Place International to train front line child-serving organizations in Botswana to provide psychosocial support, benefiting an estimated 10,000 vulnerable children and adolescents. In 2014, Dr. Harper and Children’s Place International were recognized by the American International Health Alliance for their work in Botswana. Since 2015 Dr. Harper has led a team to develop an intervention to help families in Mozambique to support their HIV positive adolescents. In addition to his academic, research and field activities, Dr. Harper is also a member of the Behavioral Leadership Group within the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions.

James B. McAuley, MD, MPH, DTM&H, MDiv

Dr. James McAuley is a Pediatrician and Global infectious Disease Specialist. He has committed his career to helping underserved populations in the U.S. and Africa. Beginning in Chicago, Dr. McAuley served as Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Rush University and was the consulting Medical Director for Children’s Place International. Dr. McAuley began working in Africa in 2011 with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a medical officer for PEPFAR Zambia (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). He led two major public-private initiatives Saving Mothers Giving Life and Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon.  In 2014 he was named the CDC Zambia Country Director. While in Zambia, he provided care for patients and taught infectious disease trainees at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka. Dr. McAuley twice served in Sierra Leone 2014-15 as the CDC Team Lead where he helped direct the U.S. response to the Ebola epidemic. In 2016 he received the CDC Global AIDS Program Kellie Elizabeth Lartigue-Ndiaye Humanitarian Award for exceptional compassion in carrying out the Global AIDS Program mission. He is now the Clinical Director at the Whiteriver Indian Hospital which serves the White Mountain Apache Tribe on the Fort Apache Reservation in Arizona.

Wesler Lambert

Wesler Lambert, MD, MPH

Dr. Wesler Lambert is Deputy Executive Director of Partners in Health Haiti. The mission of Partners in Health is to provide health services to the poor. Dr. Lambert was born and raised in Haiti and joined Partners in Health in 1997. He helped launch the world’s first community-based AIDS prevention and treatment program on the Central Plateau in Haiti which has been a model for organizations all over the world. Dr. Lambert and Partners in Health – in collaboration with Children’s Place International – are implementing Access to Health: Project Haiti, an innovative initiative to improve health outcomes through investments in clean water and sanitation, housing, connectivity between rural households and clinics, and access to nutrition and medications.

Chris Reddick

Chris Reddick, MD, PhD

Dr. Chris Reddick co-founded Healthcare Partners for Access, an organization dedicated to improving health outcomes for individuals living in poverty through innovative partnerships between healthcare companies and nongovernmental organizations. Since 2012, HPA has engaged leading healthcare companies to support access to health and medicine related projects. In 2015, HPA initiated Access to Health: Project Haiti, an innovative collaboration between Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Children’s Place International and Partners in Health Haiti to improve health outcomes for over 500 individuals. Dr. Reddick has spent his professional career in drug discovery and development and clinical development and medical affairs.

Marjorie Craig Benton

Marjorie Craig Benton

Marjorie Craig Benton has dedicated her life to advocacy for women and children, peace activities, and community development. She has served as U.S. Ambassador to UNICEF; a U.S. Commissioner, International Year of the Child; Board Chair of Save the Children Federation and as Board Chair for the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago. Marjorie has served as the Public Delegate to the Special Session on Disarmament, a Co-Chair of the Americas for the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) and Special Advisor for the United Nations Disarmament Commission. Marjorie co-founded the Chicago Foundation for Women. Since 2011, as a Board Member for Partners in Health, Marjorie has worked with others to fund the development of a women’s clinic and two new hospitals in Haiti which care for thousands of underserved children and families.

Judy Harpenau

Judy Harpenau

For nearly 25 years, Judy Harpenau has made a commitment to improving the future for the people of Limonade, Haiti. Co-founder of the “Friends of Haiti” group at St. Bartholomew Church in Columbus, Indiana, Judy has helped raise more than $2.5 million and has directly impacted the lives of hundreds of vulnerable children. Currently, Friends of Haiti sponsors 300 children, preschool through college, covering tuition, books and uniforms. Friends of Haiti also established two nutritional centers that are a critical source of food, medical care and social support. In 2006, Judy co-founded Konbit Lasante pou Limonade, a 501c3 charity focused on addressing health needs in Limonade. Konbit partners with Children’s Place International and a public clinic to provide care to hundreds of families.

Nancy Joseph Ridge

Nancy Joseph Ridge, MD

Dr. Nancy Joseph-Ridge served as General Manager of the Pharmaceutical Development Division for Takeda, one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies and as a member of Takeda’s Research & Development Executive Committee and a corporate officer. In her position she oversaw global medical and clinical development strategies, such as Takeda’s 2013 partnership with Global Health Innovative Technology Fund to find new treatments for malaria. Nancy was formerly President of Takeda Global Research & Development Center, Inc. She earned her medical degree from University of Illinois, residency in Internal Medicine at Rush University Medical Center and fellowship in Rheumatology at University of Chicago. Nancy and her three brothers were raised in the Chicago area by her family who hails from Haiti and other Caribbean islands. She now serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at TerSera Therapeutics.

Diane Ware

Diana Ware

Diana Ware’s involvement with Children’s Place began in the 1990s when she first supported the organization’s Chicago programs serving children affected by HIV/AIDS. Over the years, Diana and her family have contributed to Children’s Place in a variety of ways, including “adopting” a struggling family — a mother and four young children living in various homeless shelters — enabling them to have their first apartment, furniture, new clothes, school supplies, food and, most of all, hope. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, Diana served as Chair of the Once Upon a Time Gala, Children’s Place Association’s annual black-tie fundraiser. Due to her efforts, hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial support were generated, resulting in a profound and life-saving impact for children facing extreme poverty and illness in Chicago and overseas. In 2013, Diana joined the Place the Hope committee for Children’s Place International, resulting in a substantial increase in funds raised to support extremely vulnerable children in Haiti. Diana is the Vice President, Corporate Senior Risk Manager with Alliant/Mesirow Insurance Services.

Howard Rossman

Howard Rossman, PhD

Dr. Howard Rossman was the Chairman and Founder of Mesirow Advanced Strategies and served as the Vice-Chairman and Member of the Board of Directors of Mesirow Financial. He is the founder of the Civic Leadership Foundation. Dr. Rossman’s vision is generations of young people educated to become compassionate, entrepreneurial and engaged citizens empowered to take responsibilities for their own lives and for making a difference in the world. CLF partners with principals, teachers and programs like Children’s Place International to offer a comprehensive curriculum, teacher training and ongoing implementation support to teach young people leadership skills through student-developed and student-led civic projects.