Ex-Pittsburgher cited for work in Nicaragua

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Donna Tabor, a former Pittsburgher and ex-TV producer who lives and works in Nicaragua as a full-time volunteer, will be one of six honorees to receive the first National Awards for Citizen Diplomacy.

Recipients will be recognized Feb. 12 at a ceremony at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

The awards are sponsored by the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy in Des Moines, Iowa -- www. uscenterforcitizendiplomacy.org -- founded in 2006 to promote the role that private citizens can play in cross-cultural relations.

The event will be held in conjunction with the 2008 National Summit on Citizen Diplomacy, a two-day conference to recruit more Americans to serve as citizen diplomats.

In addition to the award, Ms. Tabor will receive a $5,000 cash donation from the center. She will contribute the money to Building New Hope -- www.buildingnewhope.org -- the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit for which she volunteers. The group has done grass-roots development in Central America since 1992.

Ms. Tabor, a former Peace Corps volunteer, has lived in the Nicaraguan city of Granada for more than a decade. In her work with BNH, she has directed much of her energy toward at-risk youth.

Among her projects: a school and residence for barrio children; Cafe Chavalos, a highly regarded restaurant and culinary arts workshop run by teens; Granada's first lending library; a reading program that brings books to the schools; scholarships, cultural field trips and mentoring for young adults; a veterinary clinic for street animals and work horses; and a fair-trade partnership between BNH and a worker-owned coffee cooperative.

She also has brought several Nicaraguan children to the United States for donated medical care. And during Hurricane Mitch in 1998, she worked nonstop to get food, water and medicine to homeless victims.

"I can't think of anyone more deserving of this award," said Barbara Wein, director of Building New Hope. "Donna is a true citizen of the world, building bridges of understanding and hope wherever she goes."

The other awardees are:

  • Anjali Bhatia of Kinnelon, N.J., who, at age 16, founded the student-run Discover Worlds, to help orphans of Rwanda genocide stay in school.
  • Tarik S. Daoud of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., a business leader who champions cross-cultural understanding through the International Visitor's Council of Detroit.
  • Khris Nedam of Livonia, Mich., a teacher who, with her sixth-grade students, founded Kids4AfghanKids, to help restore schools in Afghanistan.
  • Greg Mortenson of Bozeman, Mont., who has raised funds to build 64 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and is co-author of the best-selling book, "Three Cups of Tea."
  • Jillian H. Poole of Arlington, Va., whose Fund for Arts and Culture in Central and Eastern Europe helps arts organizations adjust to a free-market economy.

Sally Kalson can be reached at skalson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1610.


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