By Maylee Sands
Not a single seat was vacant in Fordham University’s Keating Hall; the electric buzz in the packed auditorium evidenced the importance of the evening.
On March 4, Sarah Weber, 2005 graduate of the International Political Economy and Development (IPED) masters program, received the distinguished Swanstrom-Baerwald Award, which recognizes excellence in the service of faith through the promotion of international peace and development. Speakers at this event included His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, past chair of the Board of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and current Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York; Fordham University President Joseph M. McShane, S.J.; and Dr. Henry M. Schwalbenberg, director of IPED.
Sarah Weber’s dedication toward international development and peace has been cornerstone to her impressive professional accomplishments. Weber received her BA in Environmental Studies from Sarah Lawrence College in 1997. Following her undergraduate studies, Weber was accepted into the prestigious Fulbright Fellowship, where she led independent research on environmental community development in Botswana. Weber continued her passion for international relief; in 2001, Weber became a Peace Corps Volunteer in Côte d’Ivoire. During her time in the Peace Corps, she advised local governments on sanitation, HIV, and AIDS education and initiatives.
In 2003, Weber joined Fordham University’s IPED program as an Arrupe Fellow. In conjunction with her academic studies, Weber interned at Trickle Up, a nonprofit microfinance organization in Timbuktu, Mali. For the past decade, Weber has devoted her efforts to the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), a faith-based humanitarian agency. Her work at CRS has taken her to Ghana, Liberia, and Benin. Weber’s CRS highlights include emergency food aid program management and securement of a $21 million USAID proposal, the procurement of the $100 million Global Fund public health grant portfolio, and the development of training programs for resource acquisition and grant writing.
Honored and humbled, Weber graciously accepted the Swanstrom-Baerwald Award.
“International politics is a very challenging field, so you have to be an optimist,” Weber said.
Weber’s faith, enthusiasm, and tenacity have allowed her to thrive professionally. She extended her gratitude to her family, CRS, and Fordham’s IPED faculty.
Established by Friedrich Baerwald, the award celebrates the collaboration between CRS and Fordham’s graduate International Political Economy and Development program and serves to honor Baerwald’s legacy.
Baerwald, an economist and member of the German Catholic Party, was a member of the Department of Political Philosophy at Fordham University; Baerwald’s earliest student was Bishop Edward E. Swanstrom. Following World War II, Swanstrom assisted in the founding of CRS and was the executive director from 1947 to 1976. Today, CRS touches more than 100 million lives, spanning across 93 countries.
Without a doubt, Weber’s work has greatly contributed to the management of global health crises, such as AIDS, TB, and malaria. As a Senior Technical Advisor at CRS, Weber’s expertise coupled with the social responsibilities outlined in the Catholic social teachings has been paramount to her achievements. CRS and the Fordham community are incredibly proud of Weber’s accomplishments.