Sarah Craven ’85

2010 Distinguished Citizen Award

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The pith helmets that anthropology majors wore during their graduation ceremony in 1985 proved prophetic for Sarah Craven. She is a widely respected leader and advocate for the reproductive health and rights of women and families around the world. It's a career in which that pith helmet would come in handy.

In her current role as chief of the United Nations Population Fund's Washington, DC, office, Craven carries out the organization's mission to improve and save women's lives. While her day-to-day work is fraught with political landmines, Craven says, "The reality of women's lives keeps me going."

After Macalester, Craven attended the University of Cambridge, where she earned a master's in social anthropology. She then worked on women's health issues in the US Senate and earned her JD at Georgetown University, where she was a public interest law scholar.

In the early 1990s, Craven played a key role in bringing grassroots women leaders from around the globe to international conferences in Cairo and Beijing. She continues to create opportunities for women to have their voices heard and change policy—from bringing members of Congress to the mud hut of a traditional birth attendant in Malawi to educating senators about the devastating impact of rape as a weapon of war in the Congo.

Craven has been instrumental in securing US funding for reproductive and maternal health programs that are making a real difference for women in countries in which the UN works.

Throughout her career, Craven has devoted herself to improving women's lives and has done so with intelligence, passion, and grace while maintaining a healthy sense of humor, even amidst the setbacks and inevitable frustrations.