Nomfundo Walaza to Receive 2010 Woman of Distinction Award

June 02, 2010


Lisa Goodnight,


CEO of Desmond Tutu Peace Centre to Accept AAUW, NASPA Honor on June 3

WASHINGTON — Nomfundo Walaza, chief executive officer of the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, will receive the AAUW/NASPA Women of Distinction Award during the 2010 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. This year’s ceremony, to be held at the University of Maryland, College Park, on Thursday, June 3, marks the 25th anniversary of the conference.

The 2010 Women of Distinction Awards pay tribute to leaders who have made extraordinary contributions in their professions or in their communities. In addition to Walaza, the following individuals will be honored:

    • Dorothy Height (in memoriam), chair and president emerita, National Council of Negro Women
    • Patti Solis Doyle, partner, Utrecht & Phillips, a Washington, D.C., law firm,and the first Hispanic woman to run a major U.S. presidential campaign
    • Christina Lagdameo, deputy director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
    • Marie Tillman, founder and chair of the Pat Tillman Foundation

Walaza and the other 2010 Women of Distinction honorees join a prestigious group of more than 100 women who have been celebrated in conjunction with the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders since the inception of the conference in 1985.

Focused on Fostering Peace
A clinical psychologist who has worked in the human rights field for the last two decades, Walaza has been CEO at the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre since 2007. Co-founded by Archbishop Desmond and Leah Tutu in 1998, the Tutu Centre plays a unique role in building and leveraging the legacy of Archbishop Tutu to foster peace in the world. Walaza has also served as a commissioner in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and as the executive director of the Trauma Centre for survivors of violence and torture, both in South Africa, where she has focused on empowering and healing victims of torture, trauma, and violence, many of whom suffered severely at the hands of the apartheid government.

Passionate about women’s issues and restoring the dignity of those who have suffered as a result of human rights violations and abuses, Walaza served on the subcommittee of the NICRO Women’s Support Centre from 1999 to 2001 and was a consultant editor for Femina magazine from 1996 to 2001. In conjunction with a lobby of progressive women’s organizations in Cape Town, South Africa, Walaza played a leading role in shaping a gendered response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Walaza has addressed audiences and run workshops on human rights issues both in South Africa and internationally. She participated on the BBC program Facing the Truth with Archbishop Tutu and has taken part in dialogues and workshops aimed at teaching nonviolent ways of responding to conflict and developing pathways to mutual acknowledgment in the Middle East. In 2001 and 2002, she was a visiting research scholar at the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

Walaza’s zeal as an activist for human rights extends far beyond the South African borders, as she is also actively involved in Psychologists Without Borders. She is a board member of the Open Society Foundation and the Social Change Assistance Trust and co-chair of the Electoral Commission Code of Conduct (ECCOC) and Women Demanding Dignity.

2010 NCCWSL Events and Sponsors
As part of this year’s 25th anniversary celebration of the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders and its awards program, a special reception will be held for this year’s honorees. Several past honorees will attend this celebration, including Amy Richards, Soapbox: Speakers Who Speak Out, Inc.; Brigadier General Wilma L. Vaught, USAF, and president, Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, Inc.; and Dorothy Gilliam, founder and director of the Prime Movers Media Program at the School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University.

The Ruth Z. Sweetser Honorary Fund and Prudential are platinum sponsors of the 2010 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. Other conference sponsors include the University of Maryland, College Park, and The Princeton Review.

Since 1985, the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders has provided a platform to help thousands of college and university women to develop leadership skills, network with other student leaders, and interact with women who hold leadership positions. The conference is presented each June by AAUW and NASPA.


By:   |   June 02, 2010