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Publication Date: September 25, 2023
Publication Location: Washington, DC
Contact: Abby Henson | [email protected]
The U.S. Department of State in collaboration with World Learning is pleased to announce the fall 2023 Professional Fellows Program Alumni Impact Award winners: Dr. Ana Majko (Albania), Saurav Rimal (Nepal), Sandy Wong (China), and Martin W. Nagy (United States).
With backgrounds in child rights and protection, service to the most underprivileged in society, legal aid for criminal defense and public interest litigation, and community arts education, the Alumni Impact Award winners will return to the Professional Fellows Congress to share their experiences and achievements, as well as the tools and skills they applied to their work after their fellowship, with current Fellows.
The Professional Fellows Congress will be held in Washington, DC, on October 10-13, 2023.
Dr. Ana Majko, Albania (Great Lakes Community Action Partnership, October 2019)
Dr. Ana Majko has more than a decade of experience in the field of child rights and protection, implementing services for children at high risk, running day centers for children, and providing emergency services for children and parents in need for protection and treatment. She is an expert and trainer on issues related to child trafficking, exploitation, abuse and maltreatment, case management, and emergency response. Since 2016, she has been the executive director of the Initiative for Social Change (ARSIS), a local organization in Tirana focused on strengthening child protection systems in Albania, building community empowerment and engagement, designing and piloting new services, and building capacity in child protection, advocacy and lobbying and policy development in cooperation with public and nonpublic institutions.
Majko spent her fellowship at the Alliance for Quality Education in New York focusing on advocacy campaigns to fight discrimination and budget cuts in New York schools. Upon returning to Albania, Majko was able to apply advocacy techniques for child rights in three community centers, integrating her knowledge and increasing the impact to the community by empowering community members.
Majko is a co-author of in-service modules for child protection; the author of several publications and presentations in national and international conferences; a researcher involved in different studies with a focus on victims of abuse and children at high risk; and an activist for child rights protection in Albania. She graduated in 2008 as a psychologist at the Department of Pedagogy and Psychology (DPP), Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tirana and received a master of sciences degree in organizational psychology at the same faculty in 2010. She received her Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Tirana, in 2018. In June 2023 she graduated from the Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria, with a master’s degree in social innovation and management.
Saurav Rimal, Nepal (World Learning, October 2018)
Prior to participating in the Professional Fellows Program in 2018, Saurav Rimal worked with the Investment Board Nepal as a communication officer where he was involved in media management and coordination with various government agencies. But the Professional Fellows Program broadened his global perspective, motivating him to make a deeper contribution to society. For his fellowship Rimal was posted to the Ohio State House, where he met the Speaker, Members of Parliament, Chief Justice, and White House officials, gaining a wider understanding of the power of government and public-private partnerships.
Upon returning to Nepal, he established Discover City, which provides smart solutions to government and non-government agencies. Rimal also founded the Karmayog Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic agency working in the remote areas of Nepal with a commitment to “selfless service to the helpless.” The foundation works to improve literacy, reduce environment degradation, and uplift the living standards of the most underprivileged. Currently, he is President and Community Development Director at Karmayog Foundation. The foundation is also involved in animal welfare and relief assistance. The U.S. Embassy in Nepal called Rimal a “champion for community animals during the COVID-19 lockdown,” as he and other volunteers fed more than 200 monkeys, 150 dogs, and several cows in the Kathmandu Valley from the early days of the lockdown, even while he partnered with Smile Nepal to distribute relief packages to those hardest hit by the pandemic.
As a result of his tireless efforts to serve, the Rimal’s work has been recognized by several institutions and national and international media. He participated in TedX Durbar Marg, and is a motivational speaker on Nepal TV and various other forums. He was awarded with the prestigious Dr. BR Ambedkar Award 2021 in India , the Global Youth Leadership Award 2022 in Bangkok, and the U.S. Volunteers Medal in 2022. In recognition of his social work, he received the Samaj Sewa Ratna medal in 2022 from the President of Nepal. Rimal is an alumnus of Stratford University, Virginia, with a B.Sc. in Business Administration.
Sandy Wong, China (National Committee on United States-China Relations, November 2022)
A professional lawyer from China, Sandy Wong has represented public interest litigation in China, and has worked as a legal aid lawyer in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region for years. He has also represented Uyghur defendants in criminal cases multiple times. At the same time, Wong has also represented parties in environmental protection litigation, LGBT labor discrimination and employment, smoking control litigation, underage campus bullying, and other issues.
Wong participated in the Professional Fellows Program in November 2022 and spent his fellowship in Minneapolis, Minnesota with Tubman, an organization that advocates for the rights of women and children. Tubman’s slogan is “hope, help, and heart.” During his internship at Tubman, Wong deeply felt the professional spirit of American NGOs; whether fundraising, material procurement, victim acceptance processes, court hearings, or post judgment placement, all of these processes were rigorous.
The biggest lesson he gained from the Professional Fellows Program was that working in law can effectively help others, and the reward he received was the opportunity to participate in the Professional Fellows Program in the middle of his career. After participating in the program, Wong became more determined to continue working as a defense lawyer.
Wong received his master’s degree in human rights from Peking University sponsored by the Swedish Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. He spent three years in Xinjiang participating in a legal aid program sponsored by China’s Ministry of Justice. His main job was representing people with disabilities and ethnic minorities. He currently works as a partner in an independent law firm, mainly engaged in criminal defense and public interest litigation cases. He maintains long-term cooperative relationships with environmental protection NGOs, smoking control NGOs, and the China Legal Aid Foundation.
Martin W. Nagy, USA (Fellowship Host for Great Lakes Community Action Partnership)
Martin Nagy is founder and Executive Director of the Arts Council Lake Erie West (ACLEW), a nonprofit regional community arts agency in Toledo, Ohio, that was created in 1983 with a mission to build creativity in the community, increase cultural participation, and engage people in the arts experience. Nagy is active internationally, consulting, escorting, and conducting workshops through U.S. Department of State-funded programs with Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.
Since 2013, Nagy has served as a trainer, mentor, and escort for all the East European delegations that have visited the U.S. through the Great Lakes Consortium/Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (GLC/GLCAP) on their Professional Fellows Program. He has also led U.S. delegations and conducted arts-based community organizing workshops for youth and adults in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia as part of his outward-bound exchange program. Nagy is the designer and chief editor of five volumes published under the title Taking Action, Changing Lives in Minority Communities, which are about GLC/GLCAP Professional Fellows Program activities.
Prior to working in international arts, community arts, and arts education, Nagy founded and chaired the Fine Arts Department at Maumee Valley Country Day School where he taught visual arts to students in grades preK-12 for fourteen years. He also started and taught various arts and teacher training programs for the University of Toledo, Toledo Public Schools, Lucas County Educational System, the 577 Foundation, and Spectrum Friends of Fine Art.
In 2002, Nagy received the Ohio Governor’s Award for his outstanding leadership in arts education. Other awards and honors include being inducted into the Cum Laude Society of Maumee Valley, into Phi Delta Kappa as an Outstanding Friend in Support of Arts and Education, the Roy C. Start High School Hall of Fame, the Outstanding Community Leadership in the Arts Award from the Toledo Federation of Arts Societies, the Outstanding Northwest Ohio Art Teacher of the Year by the Ohio Art Education Association, the Community Impact Award, and the Individual Artist Award from the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo.
Nagy completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1971 from Bowling Green State University and did graduate work at Ohio State University in arts administration, and completed a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Toledo, Ohio. He remains abreast of current arts and arts education affairs by maintaining professional association memberships, conducting presentations, and attending professional association workshops.