Since graduating from Whitworth, in 1993, Anna Schowengerdt has dedicated her life to providing humanitarian aid around the globe. In 1998 she began working for Catholic Relief Services, leading efforts to provide disaster-relief food and supplies to countries hit by disaster, including tsunami-ravaged Indonesia, in 2004, and Haiti, after the devastating earthquake of 2010. She later managed a food-aid program in Liberia, West Africa, and served as senior program manager and acting country representative in Uganda, East Africa, administering projects in areas including agriculture, micro-finance, HIV/AIDS, education, emergency response and peace-building. She also provided ongoing physical and emotional support to help rebuild persecuted communities in southern Iraq, spending a year onsite in Basra.
Schowengerdt discerned her vocation as a student at Whitworth, when she spent eight months in an independent study-abroad program in Kenya, East Africa. While helping to organize food and blanket distributions for Somali refugees near the Kenya-Somalia border, she realized that “the emotional high of responding to a humanitarian emergency would stay with me forever.”
The breadth of her experience and her passion for humanitarian-relief work make Schowengerdt an invaluable resource for Whitworth students who are also drawn to assist developing countries in need. She has returned to campus several times to speak about her work and her organization’s role in the recovery of countries and communities damaged by conflict or natural disaster. Schowengerdt received the Recent Alumna Award in 2003 and provided the keynote address for Whitworth’s 115th Commencement, in 2005.