Susan Sygall, executive director of Mobility International USA, named as the recipient of the 2011 Matusak Courageous Leadership Award for her leading role as an advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities.
DENVER – The Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance, KFLA, has named Susan Sygall, executive director of Mobility International USA, as the recipient of the 2011 Matusak Courageous Leadership Award for her leading role as an advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities. As the award winner, Sygall will have the opportunity to share her story and experiences at the KFLA bi-annual Forum in Washington, D.C. The award also carries a $2,500 prize which she will donate to Mobility International. The Matusak Award was created to recognize individuals "who have shown courage to act authentically and speak up when silence means colluding with the problem."
As co-founder and executive director of Mobility International USA (MIUSA), Sygall works to remedy the lack of services and leadership opportunities for women with any type of disability. From her wheelchair, Sygall inspires people to achieve more than they and society thought possible. She has changed the lives of countless women, often in the poorest and most isolated parts of the world. She encourages budding leaders and policymakers to secure rights and opportunities for disabled persons that will permit them to contribute more fully to their communities.
Sygall’s strategy melds leadership development with economic and social development at local, national and international levels. Her work spans not only the design of architectural environments, but the design of international programs. Individuals who have been isolated by shame or lack of access to transportation, educations and work have found the self-confidence to change their own lives and break through barriers.
Sygall’s adventurous spirit has taken her to destinations around the globe, backpacking through Europe and Israel, hitch-hiking through New Zealand, riding local buses through Mexico, Guatemala, Indonesia and Thailand. At the University of Oregon, while completing her master’s degree in therapeutic recreation, she co-founded Mobility International USA (MIUSA). Sygall has received numerous awards in recognition of commitment to the rights of people with disabilities, including the President’s Award from Bill Clinton in 1995 and a MacArthur Fellowship in 2000.
Intrinsic to Sygall’s work is a focus on the issues of women with disabilities. To this end, MIUSA spearheaded such gatherings as the 1995 International Symposium on Women with Disabilities in Beijing, the 1997 Women’s Institute on Leadership and Disability (WILD) and the 1998 International Symposium on Microcredit for Women with Disabilities.
The Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance Matusak Courageous Leadership Award is sponsored by Larraine Matusak, former Leadership Scholar at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and director of the Kellogg National Fellowship Program. Along with other traits, the Award recognizes those who are “creative risk takers, driven by sound judgment, common sense and a profound sense of responsibility, honesty, and trust.” For additional information please see http://www.kfla.org/programs/?p=p&c=5.
KFLA, www.kfla.org, is a network of more than 1,200 leaders throughout 40 countries worldwide committed to positive change and to giving back in their communities. The KFLA connects, renews and leverages its Kellogg Fellows' network and partners as an effective, humane change agent in addressing today’s critical issues.