The IUSA has awarded Ms. Noeline Blackwell the Distinguished Alumni Award and Mr. Lye Ogunsanya the Emerging Leader Award in a ceremony on 11th May 2022. The following Citations were read out for each award winner by IUSA President Chris MM Gordon with the award conferred by IUSA President Emeritus Kate Acheson.
Citation for Emerging Leader Award
In selecting the recipient of this year’s Emerging Leader Award, the committee looked for demonstrated potential for leadership in the candidate’s chosen profession, for a commitment to Ireland’s relationship with the United States and an outstanding contribution in service to society, the community or philanthropy. All of those nominated for this year’s award excelled in these areas, but one particular nomination stood out from amongst the others for his sustained commitment and tireless philanthropic efforts both within Ireland and internationally. I am delighted to present this year’s award to Lye Ogunsanya.
Lye is an experienced advocate in the area of Direct Provision with organisation Dídean (DEE-DAWN). Prior to Dídean, he was a Portfolio Manager at The One Foundation where he led change driven innovation programs in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Colombia and the Mediterranean. Lye has also worked with UNICEF, and was awarded their Champion for Children Award in 2018 for his work with Syrian and Libyan refugees; he also assisted UNICEF with securing funding for Africa’s First Humanitarian Drone and Data Academy. Lye is a published academic author, a co-founder of Millennia Aviation; House of Akina – a social enterprise and lifestyle brand; and finally of CENF – a think tank at the Federal Polytechnic of Ilaro Nigeria, to facilitate ethical diaspora knowledge sharing for local development. He has also recently been appointed as a Board Member of the prestigious Temple Bar Galleries+Studio Dublin and currently serves on the board of the IUSA.
Lye completed an IVLP on the topic of regional responses to Refugee and Migration Issues in 2018. Lye has an incredible professional track record, and is always open to assist when the alumni call on him.
Lye is a tireless advocate for the voiceless and shining example of commitment, service and dedication. Lye is also confidant, a friend and a consistent reliable source of positivity and action. I am inspired by few as much as I am by Lye.
I am incredibly honoured to present this year’s award to Lye, a hugely worthy recipient – congratulations.
Citation for the Distinguished Alumni Award
The IUSA Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Ireland-United States?Alumni Association?(IUSA). The purpose of the award is to honor alumni of U.S. exchange programs who have outstanding contributions to society and have demonstrated a commitment to promoting the special relationship between the United States and Ireland.
I am incredibly honoured to present this year’s award to Noeline Blackwell. Noeline is a household name here in Ireland for her incredibly admirable work. Noeline is a human rights lawyer and CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, a voluntary organisation which works to prevent the harm and heal the trauma of sexual violence. Prior to this, she was Director General of access to justice organisation FLAC, the Free Legal Advice Centres for ten years. She previously ran a solicitor’s practice where she had a particular interest in refugee and immigration issues and in family law. Noeline has shown incredible leadership throughout her time advocating for women, immigrants and international human rights. She was selected for the Boston College Irish Institute programme “Alumna Joined-Up and Crosscutting Policy Making” and has been awarded a Leadership Fellowship with Columbia University Business School. We received some truly remarkable nominees for this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award, however Noeline’s work speaks for itself, she is an incredible nominee and a worthy winner.
There are few people that are as down to earth, warm and relatable BUT who are also inspiring, notable, crusading and brave as Noeline.
In recognition of her professional excellence, her commitment to the U.S. – Irish relationship, and her outstanding contribution to society I am delighted to present Noeline Blackwell with this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award.