Every action of ours not only has an impact on our own self but also on the world around us. It is time to consider...what impact will my action have on the environment and the people who live in it? And how will it affect future generations and the human spirit?

The 2010 Fairness Award Honoree Ela Bhatt, the Founder of the Self Employed Women's Association.

2012 Grasstops Honoree

Joyce Banda

President Joyce Banda

Her Excellency, Mrs. Joyce Banda, was sworn in as President of the Republic of Malawi on 7th April, 2012. She was born on 12th April, 1950 in Malemia Village, Traditional Authority Malemia in Zomba. She was first elected Member of Parliament in 2004 under the United Democratic Front (UDF). She served as Minister of Gender, Child Welfare and Community Services (2004-2006) and Minister of Foreign Affairs (2006-2009); and in 2009 she was elected Vice President of the Republic of Malawi. In 2011 she formed the People’s Party (PP) following her expulsion from the then ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). H.E. Mrs. Banda has strong passion for women, children and the under-privileged. In this regard, she has been involved in development and humanitarian work. The first Malawi female President has been a panellist and motivation speaker at a number of international conferences and fora and involved with numerous missions, organizations, and organizations throughout the world.

2012 Grasstops Honoree

Melanne Verveer

2012 Grasstops Honoree: Ambassador Melanne Verveer

Melanne Verveer is the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and was appointed to this newly created role by President Barack Obama in 2009. The President’s decision to create a position of Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues is unprecedented, and reflects the elevated importance of these issues to the President and his entire Administration. In her capacity as director of the Department of State’s new office on Global Women’s Issues, Ambassador Verveer coordinates foreign policy issues and activities relating to the political, economic and social advancement of women around the world. She mobilizes concrete support for women’s rights and political and economic empowerment through initiatives and programs designed to increase women’s and girls’ access to education and health care, to combat violence against women and girls in all its forms, and to ensure that women's rights are fully integrated with human rights in the development of U.S. foreign policy.

2012 Grassroots Honoree

Lucy Kanu

Ms. Lucy Kanu

Ms. Lucy Kanu is a Nigerian social entrepreneur and innovator who has helped build innovative private-public partnerships to serve Nigeria’s underserved and under-represented communities. Ms. Kanu has led a process of economic empowerment that prioritizes local aspirations, introduces outside resources, and builds scalability across sub-Saharan Africa. The success of her organization, Idea Builders, and her model to transition local priorities into powerful engines for development has created a shift that favors local ownership and strategies, and builds on best practices to ensure success. Through Idea Builders, Ms. Kanu has worked with disadvantaged women and youth to provide sustainable livelihood programs that foster entrepreneurial spirit in the SME and agricultural space.

2012 Grassroots Honoree Presenter

The Honorable John D. Podesta

John Podesta is Chair and Founder of the Center for American Progress and the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Prior to founding the Center in 2003, Podesta served as White House chief of staff to President William J. Clinton. Most recently, Podesta served as co-chair of President Obama’s transition, where he coordinated the priorities of the incoming administration’s agenda, oversaw the development of its policies, and spearheaded its appointments of major cabinet secretaries and political appointees. Additionally, Podesta has held numerous positions on Capitol Hill, including counselor to Democratic Leader Sen. Thomas A. Daschle (1995-1996); chief counsel for the Senate Agriculture Committee (1987-1988); and chief minority counsel for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittees on Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks; Security and Terrorism; and Regulatory Reform (1981-1987).

2012 Grasstops Honoree Presenter

The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen

The only woman in U.S. history to be elected both a Governor and a United States Senator, Jeanne Shaheen has been committed to serving the citizens of New Hampshire for decades and is known for her common-sense leadership, hard work and dedication to improving the lives of the middle class. She has served in the United States Senate since 2009 and is a member of the Senate Committees on Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Energy and Natural Resources, and Small Business and Entrepreneurship. As New Hampshire’s Governor, Shaheen helped create nearly 67,000 new jobs while keeping New Hampshire’s tax burden the lowest in the country. Between her time as Governor and election to the U.S. Senate, Shaheen served as the Director of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government. Shaheen was born in Saint Charles, Missouri. She and her husband, Bill, live in Madbury and have three daughters, Stefany, Stacey and Molly, and seven grandchildren.

2012 Special Guest: Master of Ceremony

Mr. Jim Vance

Jim Vance anchors News4 at 6 and News4 at 11 with Doreen Gentzler. Vance has been part of the News4 team since 1969. He started as a General Assignment reporter then moved to the anchor desk in 1972. Vance began his reporting career with The Philadelphia Independent newspaper and radio station WHAT-AM, all while teaching in the Philadelphia public school system. In 2007, the National Association of Black Journalists inducted Vance into its Hall of Fame. Other honors include 17 Emmy Awards, induction into the Journalists Hall of Fame and membership in the Silver Circle of the Washington Chapter of the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences. He also holds the Ted Yates Award for outstanding community service and has been honored as a "Washingtonian of the Year." A native of Ardmore, Pa., Vance holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education from Cheyney University in Cheyney, Pa.

2012 Musical Guest: Special Performance


Founded by Bernice Johnson Reagon in 1973 (with Mie, Carol Maillard and Louise Robinson) at the D.C. Black Repertory Theater Company, Sweet Honey In The Rock®, internationally renowned a cappella ensemble, has been a vital and innovative presence in the music culture of Washington, D.C., and in communities of conscience around the world. Sweet Honey was a 2008 Grammy® Award nominee, composed new material in celebration of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater’s 50th anniversary, and honored to accept an invitation from President and Mrs. Barack Obama to give a concert at the White House on Feb. 18, 2009. Sweet Honey In The Rock members are Ysaye Maria Barnwell, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Aisha Kahlil, Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson, and Shirley Childress Saxton (Sign Language Interpreter).

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