About Larraine Matusak
Larraine Matusak passed away on March 26, 2021 leaving an outstanding leadership legacy in higher education and philanthropy that has profoundly impacted people’s lives around the world. Larraine served in academic leadership roles from 1971 through 1982, including being only the second president of the Thomas A. Edison State College in Trenton, NJ from 1979-1982.
In 1982 she became a Program Officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation where she directed the Kellogg National Fellowship Program and founded the Kellogg Leadership Scholars Program (KLSP). Larraine retired from the Kellogg Foundation in 1996 and authored her book “Finding your Voice” in 1997. She has been awarded too many Honorary Degrees and Leadership Awards to list – a truly amazing contribution to leadership around the world.
The Larraine R. Matusak Courageous Leadership Award
The Courageous Leadership Award was created in 2007 and is given biannually to recognize bold and courageous leadership in the face of social difficulty and injustice. In the words of Dr. Matusak . . .
The purpose of this award is to recognize and reward those individuals who boldly take a risk to stand up for what is right and just; who work for the common good; who are willing to take an unpopular stand even if doing so may jeopardize their jobs, cast them in an unpopular light or even cause them to lose friends. They are willing to act authentically and speak up when silence would mean colluding with the problem, and they boldly take actions that tangibly improve the human condition.
Courageous Leadership is defined as the ability and passion to attain positive results by encouraging others and by working with and through others to achieve a common good. True leaders are courageous people. They are not afraid to take a risk and they don’t waste much time worrying about what other people might think of them; they are more concerned about doing what is right and effective. They make every attempt to weave a shared vision, to align others toward a goal, and then with enthusiasm, energy, and commitment they are willing to walk near the edge and even do things that raise the eyebrows of those around them in order to achieve a positive goal that effects the common good…. to do what is right! Their risk taking is creative, reinforced by sound judgment, common sense and a profound sense of responsibility, honesty and truth.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must look fear in the face and do the thing you think you cannot do.” This Courageous Leadership Award is a call to courage that requires a belief in something much larger than the individual; the type of courage fueled by a passion for the common good and a commitment to principles greater than self-interest; the kind of courage that once exhibited galvanizes others.
The Alliance is pleased to announce those recognized through the 2021 Matusak Courageous Leadership Award! The 2021 Courageous Leadership Award was sponsored and presented by The Alliance of Leadership Fellows (ALF) in conjunction with the International Leadership Association (ILA) annual meeting in Geneva, Switzerland in October 2021. ILA was also founded by Larraine Matusak.
In 2021, we received a record number of nominations, 64 from all parts of the globe for this award. An independent panel of distinguished scholars and leaders carefully reviewed every nomination and the supporting materials that were given us. I must say that all those identified for their work and brought to the attention of the committee must be thanked and recognized for their important efforts everywhere they are making a difference. Still, the committee recommended three honorees as deserving of special attention for what they each are doing to bring greater economic, political and social progress to their communities, their nation, and the world:Sibusiso Innocent Zikode of Durban, South Africa, Shirley Sherrod of Albany, Georgia, and Kehkashan Basu, of Toronto, Canada.
- Kehkashan is a 21 year-old advocate for climate change, equal rights for women, and the voices of youth around the world. She does her primary work through the Greenhope Foundation of Toronto, Canada. Already at her relatively young age she has been recognized for her leadership and advocacy across Canada and around the world with designations including the International Children’s Peace Prize and her recognition as a United Nations Human Rights Champion in 2016.
- Shirley Sherrod has been a staunch defender of equal rights for Black Farmers and minorities in the United States for several decades. Shirley has been a pioneer in the community food movement and has had a number of high-level appointments to federal and state positions where she has consistently demonstrated integrity and courage in public service. Among many recognitions, Ms. Sherrod was also named in 1993 a Kellogg Foundation National Leadership Fellow.
- S’Bu Zikode is leading an African-wide NGO bringing issues of equitable economy, healthcare, and represents the “shack dwellers” movement across South Africa and the African continent. His organization is built on the commitments and determination of 80,000 members and affiliates. As you hear his story you will recognize not only the amazing leadership skills it takes to influence a movement of such breadth and importance, but also the courage it demands—and his response to these challenges. S’Bu was chosen to receive the 2021 Larraine R. Matusak Courageous Leadership Award.
These three individuals most fittingly represent the kinds of courageous leaders that Dr. Matusak described when she established the award in 2007:
- ….individuals who boldly take a risk to stand up for what is right and just; who work for the common good; who are willing to take an unpopular stand even if doing so may jeopardize their jobs, cast them in an unpopular light or even cause them to lose friends.
- (These are) women and men willing to act authentically and to speak up when silence would mean colluding with the problem, and they boldly take actions that tangibly improves the human condition.
Past Courageous Leadership Award Recipients