Campus honors outstanding alums for public service

By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs

27 March 2001 | A Yugoslavian resistance leader and a local advocate for foster children were honored on Charter Day with two campus honors given annually to alumni who have made significant contributions at home and abroad.

This year's Elise and Walter A. Haas International Award went to Zivorad Kovacevic, Class of 1960, for his longstanding defense of democracy and the environment in his native Yugoslavia.

In remarks upon accepting his award medallion, Kovacevic noted that when he received notice of the honor last September, Serbians were still "under the shield of a dictator," and his pleasure at being named was therefore mixed with "melancholy and grief."

But shortly thereafter, he said, his people rose up to throw Slobodon Milosevic out of office. As a result, he said "My satisfaction today is absolute."

Kovacevic, in an afternoon lecture at Doe Library, addressed issues of responsibility for the series of conflicts that has rocked the Balkans over the past decade.

In the wake of those events, he said, the region's fundamental choice today "is to become more Balkan, in the worst sense of the word, or more European in the best sense of the word."

Amy Lemley, who graduate in 1998, received the Peter E. Haas Public Service Award for her advocacy on behalf of foster youth.

Lemley, who grew up in a small town in Iowa and received her master's degree from the Goldman School for Public Policy, is cofounder of First Place Fund for Youth, an East Bay nonprofit organization that helps young people in their transition from foster homes to independent adulthood.

Half a million children and youth are involved in the foster care system in the United States, Lemley said in her afternoon lecture. Each year 25,000 of them turn 18 and "age out" of foster care, often without a home to live in, a job, or "the support of a caring adult." Many have gown up in institutionalized group homes, she said, and lack even the basic survival skills, including how to pay the bills, do laundry or find housing.

Her prescription for revamping the foster care system includes real support for low-income families, including such social supports as health insurance and affordable daycare, recruiting more foster parents, and dramatically reducing the use of group homes.


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