If we are lucky, we have had the chance to cross paths with an exceptional leader in our lives: someone for whom helping others comes as naturally as breathing. Some among us may even be such a leader.
This level of leadership takes a special type of person-someone who is compassionate, who is courageous, who is a risk-taker, and who has a talent for getting things done.
These qualities describe Ray Gatchalian, a Kellogg Fellow who passed away in 2003, and for whom the Spirit of Leadership Award is named. The Ray Gatchalian Spirit of Leadership Award will be conferred at Foro Latinoamericano y Caribeño in Valladolid, Mexico.
All fellows working in Latin America and the Caribbean are eligible for nomination.
Raised in rural Georgia and a graduate of Albany State University and Antioch University Midwest, Shirley Sherrod has been in the business of helping African-American farmers since the late 1960s. Between 1969 and 1985 she and her husband were directors of New Communities, Inc., a communal farm project in Lee County, Georgia, and Sherrod has since worked on behalf of black farmers in Georgia.
Under the Obama administration, Sherrod received recognition for decades of leadership as she gained appointment as USDA Georgia State Director for Rural Development. On July 19, 2010 she was fired from her position after blogger Andrew Breitbart posted video excerpts of Sherrod's address at a March 2010 NAACP event on his website. As is now well known, Breitbart misrepresented Sherrod in his editing of the video and she has received public apologies from President Obama, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and the NAACP for their rush to judgment.
Although she was also offered and chose to decline to be the first person to fill the position of Deputy Director of the Office of Advocacy and Outreach at USDA, she continues to stand up for small farmers in rural Georgia with the vision, passion and energy of a transformative leader.