2012 Global Hero Award: Therese Caouette

By Nina Carduner

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn presented the second annual Global Hero Award, which recognizes a Washington-based change agent who has made significant contributions to global issues. In light of Seattle’s Next 50 celebration, Mayor McGinn shared his appreciation for being the mayor of a city that is full of people dedicated to connecting locally in efforts to leverage global social change. He recalled that, 50 years ago, Seattle sowed the early seeds of innovation and outward facing compassion when the city hosted the ambitious 1962 World’s Fair. We may not have fully understood the challenges we would face, but thanks to those early innovators, Seattle is “known for caring,” leadership in creativity, innovation, and deep compassion for everyone in the world. As a city and a community, McGinn said, Seattle reflects a group of people who connect their values both locally and globally.

This year, the Global Hero Award went to Therese Caouette, Executive Director for Partners Asia, in recognition of three decades’ work with organizers and advocates in Southeast Asia. Caouette’s work has emphasized community engagement as a means to building leadership and skills to bring resources to the local levels where they are most needed. Using participatory models in research and development projects has been the cornerstone of her work with refugees, migrants, and displaced persons across Southeast Asia and most recently, on the Myanmar border. In a brief acceptance speech, Caouette spoke movingly of the progress made by refugee and displaced persons communities on the borders of Myanmar. She is currently a faculty member at the University of Washington, Seattle University, and Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand.