Past Buffett Award winners

2018 Buffett Award winner: Fred Swaniker

Swaniker is the founder of the African Leadership Academy (ALA) and the African Leadership University (ALU).

His experiences living in African states with both good and bad leaders is why he believes teaching good leadership in Africa is so important, and it inspired him to develop programs that help train and educate leaders for Africa’s future. Fred Swaniker accepting the Buffett Award

“I’ve found that leaders I’ve most admired in history had three key traits: a deep commitment and passion for their work, a willingness to continuously learn and grow through seeking knowledge and advice from others, and above all, humility,” he says. “Effective leadership begins with having a mindset of service and an authentic commitment to solving any of the many pressing global challenges we face today.”

Swaniker visited Northwestern on April 25 to accept the award. 

Other nominees:

  • Achraf AoudiTunisian activist and academic that founded the watchdog organization I WATCH after the Tunisian Revolution in 2011. The organization is committed to preserving the victories of the revolution, and as such, organizes young people around transparency, good governance, and anti-corruption.
  • Lusanda Worsley: the founder and CEO of Empire Innovations Agency, a creative public relations and experiential marketing consultancy. Worsley's company is committed to developing African creative talent through storytelling.
  • Saskia Niño de Riverapresident of the nonprofit organization Reinserta, which she founded when she was just 24 years old. Reinserta is committed to creating a safer Mexico by supporting its invisible, imprisoned populations. 


2017 winner: Regina Agyare Honu

Regina Agyare Honu accepts the 2017 Buffett AwardHonu is the founder and CEO of Soronko Solutions, a software development company and social enterprise startup based in Accra, Ghana. She is also the founder of Soronko Foundation, the company’s nonprofit arm, which runs several development programs in West Africa that teach youth how to code and use technology to solve social issues. Read a Q&A with Honu to learn more about her.

Honu visited Northwestern on April 18 to give a public lecture and meet with student groups.

Other nominees for the 2017 award were:

  • Cristina Jimenez: co‐founder and executive director of United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth‐led organization in the nation.
  • Vuyo Kayi: founder and head coach of the South African women’s soccer team RV United, and program coordinator with Grassroots Soccer, a non-profit that uses soccer to empower and educate adolescents, with a focus on HIV and AIDS and sexual health.
  • Estefania Palomino: global health lawyer, Latin American feminist, and entrepreneur, and program manager of the women's rights, Latin American Division at the Wyss Foundation.

2016 winner: Khalida Brohi

Khalida Brohi giving the inaugural Buffett Award LectureKhalida is the founder of Sughar Empowerment Society, a nonprofit organization that provides socioeconomic opportunities to rural and tribal women of Pakistan.

Khalida launched the Sughar Empowerment Society in 2009 to fight against such customs and restrictions on women. The Sughar Empowerment Society seeks to provide opportunities for these women, including resources to create and sustain rural, woman-owned businesses.

With the successful launch of her nonprofit, Khalida’s plans for the next 10 years are to change the lives of one million women in Pakistan. Learn more about Khalida.

Other nominees:

  • Julie Carney: co-founder of Gardens for Health International (GHI), an organization that provides seeds, tree seedlings and small livestock to patients at public health centers in Rwanda. 
  • Alan Hurt: founder and Chief Lighting Officer of Light Up Africa, an organization that works in the renewable energy sector and helps improve access to energy for those living in the developing world. 
  • Anoop Jain: founding director of Sanitation and Health Rights in India, a nonprofit organization that works to improve sanitation infrastructure and health education in India. 
  • Shiza Shahid: CEO and co-founder of the Malala Fund, helping the organization award more than half a million dollars in grants supporting girls’ education throughout the world.