Gunning Service Award Winners for 2016 Announced at DAI Global Staff Conference

October 04, 2016

On October 4, at the DAI Global Staff Conference in Rockville, Maryland, DAI was delighted to announce the 2016 winners of the David H. Gunning Award for Community Service.

They are Samuel Njakai, who volunteers at a rescue center and home for orphans and vulnerable children near Nairobi, Kenya, and Rocio Sanchez, who supports a small charity dedicated to assisting marginalized Mayan villages.

The Gunning Award was created in 2013, after DAI Board Director David Gunning’s retirement, to honor his extraordinary service to the firm. A continuous presence on DAI’s Board from its inception in 1970, Gunning was a steady advocate of the company’s social mission. In that spirit, the award was established to recognize DAI employee service in the community.

Each Gunning Award winner receives $5,000 for donation to the social service organization of his or her choice.

Samuel Njakai, a grants specialist for the East Africa Trade and Investment Hub in Nairobi, volunteers at the Community Progressive Focus Centre, which shelters more than 140 orphans and vulnerable children from the alcoholism, drug abuse, prostitution, and HIV/AIDs in their community. The center, which includes a school, was founded in 2000 by Salyvish Njoki, a local woman who dedicates her life to helping the youngsters. Samuel convinced his family and friends to equip the center with a water storage tank, finance construction of sinks, and donate food. He says the Gunning funds will be used to expand the center’s accommodations, school facilities, and greenhouse.

Rocio Sanchez, an operations and systems manager in Bethesda, volunteers at Natik Esperanza, a small charity that supports grassroots projects in Mayan villages in Guatemala and Chiapas, México. Rocio supported Natik’s accounting needs by improving how its micro-grants and costs are captured. In turn, Natik’s staff trains local grantees on how to use basic accounting to centralize, expedite, and simplify financial accountability and tracking. Upgrading the organization’s accounting capabilities will enable it to compete for larger grants from more established donors. Rocio plans to invest her award in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala, specifically in 1) the Puerta Abierta Traveling Library that brings books to rural schools, to the deep gratitude of teachers and children; and 2) the Ruk’ux Language and Cultural Immersion project, which certifies local students to teach Spanish as a second language to foreigners and international volunteers—and thereby boost their income.

More than 650 staff from DAI headquarters in Washington and London and from project locations all over the world are convening this week, celebrating success stories and absorbing lessons learned from across the company’s multiclient portfolio, while discussing ways to improve collaboration and deepen our impact in the field.

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