HKS Fund Outstanding Alumni Award

THIS YEAR THE HKS Fund Outstanding Alumni Award will be shared between two individuals who continue to donate to HKS while serving populations in need: Amelita Armit MC/MPA 1979 and Hamissou Samari MPP 2012.

Amelita is a retired public service professional actively engaged in community volunteer work. She worked both with the Alberta provincial government and the Canadian federal government for over 25 years in various senior positions in industry and commerce, intergovernmental affairs, and human resources management. To date, Amelita is the only Filipino who has achieved the rank of assistant deputy minister in the Canadian public service. She concluded her public service career as president and CEO of the Parliamentary Centre, an NGO committed to strengthening parliamentary democracy and good governance practices around the globe.

Hamissou is a senior program officer at the Division of Monitoring and Evaluation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government foreign assistance and international development agency. Hamissou is also the cofounder of LiftTogo, a nonprofit organization with the twofold mission of helping African immigrants in the United States to achieve their higher education goals while raising funds to provide material support to school-age children from low-income parts of his native Togo.

Amelita, who has donated to HKS for over 30 years, and Hamissou, who has given every year since graduating, share a similar interest in giving back and ensuring that incoming students and School programs have the funding they need to succeed. “My donations are my way of saying ‘thank you’ and paying it forward, so that current and future students of lower-income backgrounds could be afforded a chance to achieve their dreams,” Hamissou says.

“I believe in what the Kennedy School stands for—the importance of public service and public policy leadership in our democratic society,” Amelita says. “Enabling or ensuring that this work continues, especially in these complex and challenging times, is essential. Every contribution counts, big and small—time, money, resources, etc.”

Beyond his reasons for giving, Hamissou also focuses his generosity on programs he feels can scale up to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

“I make a living trying to understand how and why some development projects succeed or fail in comparison to others,” he says. “One of the things that I’ve learned is that the size of the investment is very important. But equally important is the capacity of the project implementer to manage it well enough to achieve the greatest impact. Over the years, HKS has established an outstanding track record of making sure that the funds go to areas of greatest need and true potential.”

“I believe in what the Kennedy School stands for—the importance of public service and public policy leadership in our democratic society.”

Amelita Armit MC/MPA 1979

Giving back to HKS to generate learning opportunities for public leaders is not just an aspiration but something Amelita experienced during her time at the Kennedy School. “To be open to ideas, to other points of view—to look at the whole and not just the parts. In today’s language, the terms are ‘healthy dialogue,’ ‘inclusivity,’ ‘collaboration’—these were all part of my learning experience in the Kennedy School—my classmates came from different professions, different countries, different levels of government, and I benefitted from all the varying perspectives they brought to the School,” Amelita says.

Together, Amelita and Hamissou are helping the Kennedy School to improve public policy and leadership so people can live in societies that are more safe, free, just, and sustainably prosperous. They have experienced this mission firsthand and by giving back they create change for the next class of public leaders.

Photograph by Pius Utomi Expei/Getty images