Pictured: Helene Dudley accepts the 2013 Lillian Carter Award (Photo credit: Amber David Collins)
Working in the Office of Alumni Relations, we often have the opportunity to meet extraordinary alumni and Helene Dudley MS ’90 is one such difference-maker. Recently, Duane Wiles, Associate Vice President and Executive Director of the Alumni Association met with Helene and had the honor of reconnecting her with FIU. Professor John Stack, Director of the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), took part in the meeting and was so inspired by Helene’s story that he insisted sending one of his Masters students to intern with her because he knew the student would have a life changing experience.
In 2013, Helene was honored with the Peace Corps’ Lillian Carter Award, presented by President Jimmy Carter at a ceremony at the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA. The award is given biennially by the Peace Corps to a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who has “served in Peace Corps as a senior (age 50+) and shown a demonstrated commitment to the Peace Corps’ Third Goal: to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.”
Helene served twice in the Peace Corps: 1968-70 in Colombia at age 22, and 1997-99 in Albania/Slovakia at age 50. Since returning from Peace Corps Slovakia, Helene has been an active member of the board of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of South Florida (RPCVSF), Inc., served two years on the NPCA board and published several articles in the Miami Herald with the goal to educate South Floridians about the ongoing work of Peace Corps and to promote Peace Corps values.
One of Helene’s proudest contributions has been The Colombia Project – Global, a micro-loan program which has funded more than 1,100 projects in Colombia since 2000. Up until 2014, The Colombia Project (TCP) operated under the umbrella of RPCVSF to raise awareness and funds in the U.S. and to recruit non-profits that are already working effectively to serve marginalized communities in Colombia. These Colombian organizations add micro-loans to their anti-poverty toolkit. Helene has made more than a dozen trips to Colombia at her own expense, to visit program sites and conduct workshops.
As of January 2014, she and the other team members of TCP Global provide pro bono assistance to help organizations replicate the successful Colombia Project micro-loan program.
Helene has also provided a home-stay for 4 Colombians and 2 Slovaks who have come to the United States through Partners for the Americas, League of Women Voters and the Soros Foundation. While learning about the U.S. institutions, these interns also served as informal ambassadors for their countries, ‘bringing the world back home’ in a very personal way.
Read the full story about Helene and the Lillian Carter Award at www.peacecorpsconnect.org.