IES Abroad President & CEO Receives Lifetime Advocacy Award, “Our hope resides in the next generations of such talented young people”

ies abroad logo
IES Abroad
November 4, 2019

Diversity and inclusion are not only incredibly important to IES Abroad’s mission, but also central to the work of our President and CEO, Mary M. Dwyer, Ph.D., who was recently honored with the Lifetime Advocate for Inclusivity Award at the Women in International Education (WIE) Awards in Berlin on November 2.


It certainly wasn’t surprising to IES Abroad staff that Dr. Dwyer would receive such an honor, after all, she is one of the first female CEOs of a study abroad provider, a highly effective leader, and has been committed to improving and diversifying the field during her tenure. The award, sponsored by Lead5050 and the Global Leadership League, recognizes women in leadership roles for their commitment to diversity and inclusion in international education. Sarah E. Spencer, Director of Global Strategy for The Global Leadership League said: "Mary has been an amazing leader within the study abroad field for many years. I am honored to recognize her leadership to make international education more inclusive—from the many things that expand access for students—to her support of women professionals in and outside of IES Abroad." 


Dr. Dwyer’s unwavering commitment to IES Abroad’s mission to ensure as many students as possible have the opportunity to study abroad has led us to award over $5 million in 2019-20 in study abroad scholarships and aid. This solidifies IES Abroad’s placement as one of the most financially generous study abroad program provider throughout its almost 70-year history.


In 2011, IES Abroad launched the Initiative to Diversify Education Abroad (IDEA), which has significantly grown our underrepresented student enrollment. In her acceptance speech at the WIE award ceremony, Dr. Dwyer cites the importance of the IDEA initiative, but knows that there is always room to grow: “We know that the true benefits of diversification are not limited to increasing numbers. We are focusing on re-tooling our curriculum to take full advantage of the learning that diversification in classes can bring to all of our students.”

“We know that the true benefits of diversification are not limited to increasing numbers.”
Dr. Mary M. Dwyer • accepting the Lifetime Advocate for Inclusivity Award

But, it’s not just about diversity and inclusivity in our student body: Representation is also necessary within the international education profession. Dr. Dwyer has made considerable efforts to support women in the field, both inside and outside of IES Abroad, as well as with the IES Abroad board of which many members are women. She has also been a committed proponent for the inclusion of women on key committees by serving in such influential roles as a U.S. Congressional appointee on the Abraham Lincoln Commission on Study Abroad; a founding member, Board Vice Chair, and Board Chair of the Forum on Education Abroad; and the Chair of the Rhodes Scholars Selection Committee for the Midwest region for seven years.


In addition to this honor, Dr. Dwyer has also been awarded the PIE News Outstanding Contribution to the IndustryNotable Women Executives Over 50 list by Crain's Chicago Business, the Coffey Award (alumna of the year) from Loyola University Chicago, as well as others.


Dr. Dwyer’s leadership continues to be an inspiration to those in the field, both inside and outside of IES Abroad. “I’m confident that if we listen to our better voices we will see societal improvements,” she said to her colleagues at the awards ceremony Saturday night in Berlin. “I’m very privileged to be able to serve in a field that is committed to understanding cultures and building bridges, not walls … Together, we can make a transformative difference for a brighter future.”

Learn more about IES Abroad and our commitment to diversity. If you’re interested in working with us to educate the next generation of global eaders, check out our job listings.  

IES Abroad News

Read More

IES Abroad regularly publishes news stories, articles, student stories, and other helpful study abroad content. Stay up to date on the latest from IES Abroad by reading our recent posts.

View All IES Abroad News