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Dr. Deborah Harding is the founder and President of the Liberian Education Trust, a transition initiative to help rebuild the education system destroyed by a 14-year civil war. The Trust brought access to education for thousands of Liberian children, especially girls and market women. She was Co-Founder of the Network for Human Rights in Liberia in the mid-80s. In 2013 President Johnson Sirleaf appointed Debbie Dame Grand Commander Humane Order of African Redemption for her support to the Liberian Nation.
Deborah served for nine years as the Soros Foundation/Open Society Institute’s International Vice President until she retired in 2005, championing the rights of Roma and supporting civil society and human rights and democracy building in East and Central Europe. She was also the Program Officer for political development in Central and Eastern Europe at the German Marshall Fund of the United States from 1986 until 1996. She was awarded the Knight’s Cross Order of Merit by the President of Poland for her work in support of Polish democracy.
Deborah was the founding Executive Director of the Peace Corps Institute from 1981 until 1983. She has served Peace Corps in multiple roles over decades as a trainer in 23 African countries; Acting Deputy Director, Cameroon; Director of Placement; and Special Assistant to Directors Dellenbach and Payton. She negotiated Peace Corps’ re-entry into Tanzania, and developed the strategy for Peace Corps entry into Eastern Europe in the early 1990’s. Her contributions to issues of women and girls globally have their roots in her work to systematically open Peace Corps recruitment, placement and programming to women, and to amend the Peace Corps Act to include Women in Development language in 1977.
She has served on many NGO boards, including chairing Peace Links: Women Against Nuclear War and currently serves on the board of the Finca Vigia Foundation.. Following a year in Malawi, she received a Ph.D. at UCLA in Theoretical Linguistics in 1966, specializing in the Bantu language.
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