2021 Global Achievement Award
Anna Belle Illien, Nurs '56
Anna Belle Illien has dedicated her life to helping vulnerable children anywhere in the world. Growing up in a small town in Kentucky, she considered her father as role model. He was a family doctor who served in WWII and treated families regardless of their ability to pay. Her life changed direction when she adopted a baby from India in 1980. When she saw the need of these children and saw that she could make a difference in their lives, she started an international adoption agency, Illien Adoptions International, Inc., in 1982. The Agency expanded its work all over the world and placed more than 2,500 children from Guatemala, El Salvador, Nepal, Cameroon, Colombia, Russia, Ukraine, Venezuela, Nigeria, Honduras, Chile, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Ethiopia in permanent families in the US. Illien Adoptions is still licensed today, but international adoption has been negatively affected by current government restrictions. However, she has expanded her original discovery and concern for legally abandoned children to see a much broader scope of children in need, and she is now working with organizations whose mission is to serve vulnerable children. She is serves as the only international consultant to an all-Indian national non-profit organization called the Children Foundation in New Delhi, India, and raises funds for it in the Indian community in the US. Now 85, she is committed to her mission to serve the vulnerable children in the world.
“There is no such thing as failure.”
Anne Rimoin, BSPH '03
Anne W. Rimoin, is one of the world’s preeminent experts on global epidemiology and emerging infectious diseases. In November 2021, she was named to the new Gordon-Levin Chair in Infectious Diseases and Public Health at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Her pioneering research in Central Africa has led to fundamental understandings of the re-emergence of human monkeypox virus in rural populations and long-term immune responses in Ebolavirus disease survivors, and yielded important discoveries, including the identification of new pathogens in populations at the animal-human interface. Dr. Rimoin has been a strong advocate for capacity building in low resource settings and conducting disease surveillance in complex emergencies. A leading voice on the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Rimoin appears frequently on television and radio and is a regular guest on local, national, and international news media including BBC, CNN, CNN international, MSNBC, Fox, and Fox Business News. In her home community, she is currently leading several COVID-19 studies including research on asymptomatic infection and immunity, occupational exposures, and vaccine hesitancy in health workers, first responders, and other essential worker populations. She directs the Center for Global and Immigrant Health at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, where she is a Professor of Epidemiology. She has worked in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since 2002, where she founded the UCLA-DRC Health Research and Training program to train U.S. and Congolese epidemiologists to conduct high-impact infectious disease research.
Denise Rollins, SAIS '88
Denis Rollins is a Senior Coordinator, Africa Ebola Unit Bureau for Africa, U.S. Agency for International Development. She rejoined USAID in March 2015 as the new Senior Coordinator for the Africa Ebola Unit after having retired in October 2014. She directed the Africa Bureau’s response to Ebola crisis. She chose to return to USAID because she felt a tremendous commitment to help those in need. Prior to retiring, she served as USAID’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Asia overseeing its Asia Bureau portfolio covering 32 countries in Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia and the Pacific. The Bureau manages a complex portfolio of development programs of more than $1.2 billion. Ms. Rollins was a member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service attaining the rank of Minister Counselor, and has more than 25 years of international experience. Prior to her appointment to the Asia Bureau, Ms. Rollins was named in 2007 as USAID’s Mission Director in Bangladesh, where she provided executive leadership for four years to USAID’s largest development program in South Asia, implementing a $200 million assistance program in one of the United States’ most important partners in Asia.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” – Maya Angelou
Karen Schneider, Med '02, BSPH '05
Karen Schneider is a pediatrician and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. She teaches and focuses her practice on pediatric medicine in developing countries through a Tropical Medicine elective offered to pediatric residents and fellows. She is also a Sister of Mercy for 38 years. Karen earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from the State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn. She completed a pediatric residency at Yale Children’s Hospital and a pediatric emergency medicine fellowship at Johns Hopkins before joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins University in 2002. She then earned a Master of Public Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2008. Karen has received six honorary doctorates for her international medical work in the service of children, and in 2018, the Johns Hopkins Martin Luther King Award. She coordinates the Pediatric Tropical Medicine elective, for which she supervises clinical experiences for residents in Haiti, Guyana, and Kenya and Nigeria; lectures on tropical medicine to pediatric residents; coordinates shipping of supplies and medicines to out-of-country clinics; and updates out-of-country physicians and health workers on medical topics. In 2010 a pediatric surgeon joined the team and more than 1,800 surgeries have been provided for very poor children in remote regions. Her trips have provided disaster relief to Haiti in the flood of 2008 and earthquake 2010. In total Karen has worked in nine countries, and provided 66 international course trips for 350+ for Hopkins pediatric residents, fellows, nurses and faculty. Karen’s tireless efforts have gained the attention of the national media. She has been featured on CBS News, CNS (Catholic News Service) and CNN, as well as in the National Catholic Reporter. In 2010, she was named “Person of the Week” by Washington D.C. area ABC news affiliate, WJLA. “My reason for doing these trips is twofold, to serve poor children and to open the eyes of the fortunate to the less fortunate,” she noted in a January 2014 National Catholic Reporter interview. “I long to make people a little more aware that children are suffering. and that. with just a little bit of money or a small intervention, their lives can be changed.”
“While we place our confidence in God, we must act as if all depended on our exertion." – Mother Catherine McAuley
Keenan Wyrobek, Engr '03
Keenan Wyrobek credits his time at Hopkins for helping him create Zipline, a medical product delivery company that designs, manufactures, and operates delivery drones. Keenan was motivated to start Zipline after learning about the medical conditions in under-resourced countries and the challenges physicians faced in helping patients because they lacked basic supplies. In some under-resourced countries, transportation networks are limited and medical deliveries are usually lost in transport. Keenan realized that drones could reach these areas. Today, the company has solidified its presence in Rwanda and begun expansion into Ghana, with plans to further expand into Africa and Latin America. In April of 2020, they began to move COVID-19 test samples. In May, the company partnered with Novant Health in North Carolina to start long-distance deliveries of PPE and critical medical supplies to frontline workers. The company has raised more than $225 million from some of the world’s top investors and a large grant from the UPS Foundation. The company also recently partnered with Walmart to create a first-of-its-kind drone delivery operation in the U.S. to facilitate the delivery of health and wellness products to areas with limited access. Keenan has also given back his time to Johns Hopkins. He has participated in several student-facing events and currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Johns Hopkins Alliance for a Healthier World. His innovative work in robotics has disrupted the medical field and made the world rethink how medical supplies are delivered to difficult to access communities.