The AAUW Alumnae Recognition Award

The AAUW Alumnae Recognition Award honors a past recipient of an AAUW fellowship or grant who has attained outstanding success and national or international distinction as a result of her AAUW award in her chosen profession or life’s work. Through this award, AAUW recognizes the accomplishments of an alumna who empowers women and girls and advances the goals of AAUW. The award was first given in 2013 and is presented biennially at the AAUW National Convention.

2017 Recipient

Tererai Trent

Tererai Trent

Tererai Trent, Ph.D., is one of today’s most internationally recognized voices for quality education and women’s empowerment. Distinguished as Oprah Winfrey’s “All-Time Favorite Guest,” Trent is a scholar, humanitarian, motivational speaker, educator, author, and the founder of Tererai Trent International whose mission is to provide quality education in rural Africa.

Rooted in humble beginnings, Trent grew up in a cattle-herding family in rural Zimbabwe. Despite facing many obstacles, she never lost sight of her dreams of an education. Trent could not have imagined that her steadfast determination, hard work, and belief in her dreams would eventually earn her a prominent global platform with world leaders and international audiences where she leads the global charge in the fight for quality education and women’s rights. Trent has been a keynote speaker twice at the U.N. Global Compact Leaders Summit, where she used her growing voice to appeal to international businesses to invest in equal access to quality education, and is currently an adjunct professor in Monitoring and Evaluation in Global Health at Drexel University’s School of Public Health.

Trent’s new picture book, The Girl Who Buried Her Dreams in a Can, is based on her story of perseverance. She has become a symbol of hope and living proof that anything is possible. Her favorite motto is “tinogona,” which in Shona means, “It is achievable!”

2015 Recipient

Faith Ringgold

Photo by Graces Matthews, 1993

Photo by Graces Matthews, 1993

Faith Ringgold, internationally renowned artist, educator, and social activist, has used her art to draw attention to racism and gender inequality. Born in Harlem, she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts from the City College of New York. Today, Ringgold is professor emerita in the visual arts department at the University of California, San Diego.

Ringgold was a pioneer in the women’s arts movement of the 1960s, organizing protests against major museums for excluding works by black and women artists. She helped found the Women Students and Artists for Black Liberation group to ensure that African American art exhibitions equally represented women and men.

Ringgold is best known for her story quilts — painted narratives on fabric. Her work has been exhibited all over the world and in the permanent collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art. She received the 1976–77 AAUW Creative Arts Award, given in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts to practicing artists with exceptional talent. She was also featured in the PBS series Makers: Women Who Make America and in a Time magazine photo essay about contemporary artist legends.

Ringgold has written or illustrated 14 children’s books, including the award-winning Tar Beach. She is the founder of the nonprofit Anyone Can Fly Foundation, which aims to bring more African American artists and traditions into the established canon.

2013 Recipient

Melissa Harris-Perry


Academic, award-winning author, expert news commentator, and professor of politics and international affairs at Wake Forest University, Melissa Harris-Perry has covered an impressive range of fields in her career, all grounded in race and gender issues. A regular guest on prime-time radio and news programs, Harris-Perry now hosts her own show on MSNBC, where she discusses gender equity, racial issues, politics, and religion. She also writes a monthly column for The Nation magazine under the pen name Sister Citizen. Her books have earned national acclaim, including the 2005 W.E.B. DuBois Book Award and the Best Book Award from the Race and Ethnic Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. Harris-Perry was a 2001 AAUW American Fellow, and she credits her fellowship for helping her earn tenure.

Learn more about AAUW awards.