30th Anniversary Awardee Portraits

In celebration of the Roth Endowment’s 30th anniversary in 2017, we produced a series of twelve awardee portraits featuring the stories and accomplishments of our incredible awardees. 


December Portrait – William Rivera

After his return from a Fulbright to Sweden, Bill graduated from Stanford University Law School and continued his work on child support and social welfare at the US Departments of Justice and of Health and Human Services. Among other volunteer positions, he joined the Board of the Roth Endowment, where he continues to help represent our alums, and served as the President of the Hispanic Bar association of the District of Columbia. Since 2015, Bill has continued his work for social justice as the Senior Vice President for Litigation of the AARP Foundation . . . read more


November Portrait – Bonnie Scarth

Suffering is subjective, impacted not just by a person’s internal self, but by multiple unique elements surrounding the person: culture, environment, support systems available at the time, whether or not they were believed and supported, among so many other factors. Basically, survivors of trauma want to be included in the community and respected like everyone else—truly heard and validated…and then allowed to have some autonomy over what constitutes healing for them personally. This might seem obvious, but as people’s narratives show, it is not that easy to come by. . . read more


October Portrait – Haley Peterson

Norway also reinforced my aversion to borders between disciplines. An exhibition is simply a mostly-still performance; a performance is a live exhibition. For my thesis, I decided to create a highly personalized, appropriated Norwegian costume integrating my own multinational identity (Turkish-American-Norwegian), and then wear it to participate in the Norwegian Independence Day parade. I was the craftsperson, performance artist, filmmaker, and exhibition designer in a staged foray, as an outsider, into Norwegian nationalism. . . read more


September Portrait – William Lempert

My desire to become an anthropologist had many roots. The importance of understanding how historical legacies impact the present was instilled into me at a young age. Undertaking a series of interviews with my 92-year-old grandmother, I learned more about the personal history of her life and our family; although she lost most of her extended family in Nazi Germany, as a teenager she was able to save her parents from certain death at the Dachau concentration camp. My perspective expanded further when I undertook volunteer work in the aftermath of . . . read more


August Portrait – Ethelene Whitmire

I became interested in my new book project, Searching for Utopia: African Americans in 20th Century Denmark, in a very unusual way. I first went to Denmark on a whim in May and June 2010. I was on the first sabbatical leave from my job as a university professor and was finishing my first book, Regina Anderson Andrews, Harlem Renaissance Librarian (2014). I wanted to go on a writing retreat in another country—and selected Denmark because I was watching a lot of Danish films at the time. . . read more

July Portrait – Fae Korsmo

“When I applied for a dissertation fellowship from the American Scandinavian Foundation in 1989, I didn’t know that the Lois Roth Endowment existed. When I received a positive response from the ASF, however, I also received a letter—a very encouraging and substantive letter from Richard (Dick) T. Arndt, the Endowment’s founder, offering me additional funds for my dissertation research. With funds in hand, I set off for Sweden for the first stage of a comparative politics research project  . . . read more 


Elizabeth KostovaJune Portrait – Elizabeth Kostova

I was first drawn to Bulgaria because I’d heard and sung some of its famous folk music and wanted to see where it came from. I arrived with a couple of college friends in November 1989, a week after the Berlin Wall fell, to do fieldwork on village singing. We took the overnight train from Belgrade to Sofia. As I woke early that morning to see the first mountains of western Bulgaria coming into view, I remember having the strange feeling that I was coming home to something. Over six months, I visited towns, villages, and city choirs, while the monolith of communism came down . . . read more

New Zealand 5
May Portrait – Ani Kainamu Murchie

This fifth of twelve portraits in 2017, honoring alumni from thirty years of Roth Endowment programs, features Ani Kainamu Murchie. Ani received the Robin and Avril Winks Award in 2013; unlike our other Project Support awards, which go to Americans going overseas, this one goes to a New Zealand Fulbrighter coming to study and/or do research in the United States. In her portrait, Ani explains the cultural roots of her ecological work . . . read more


Monica and her immediate family April Portrait – Monica Alcalde

Our April Portrait features Monica Alcalde, who won our Gill Jacot‐Guillarmod Award for Locally Engaged Staff in 2015. Monica, who has recently retired after forty years of service, writes: “My new life in the south of Chile is to work with my husband in an ecological adventure. We now live next to the Alerce Andino National Park in the Lake Region. I have changed my nice office clothing for jeans, boots and a warm jacket and look forward to new challenges and serving the community in this beautiful area of my country . . . read more


Photo: Patrick Phillips

March Portrait  – Patrick Phillips

This third of twelve portraits in 2017, honoring alumni from thirty years of Roth Endowment programs, features noted author Patrick Phillips. Read about his publications to date at www.patrickthemighty.com! Patrick won a Project Support Award to Denmark in 2014 to help him undertake research for his next book project. He teaches creative writing, literature and literary translation at Drew University, where he also directs the Creative Writing Program.The winner of many fellowships and honors, he has published three volumes of his own poetry . . . read more


Erika Larsen

February Portrait – Erkia Larsen

This second of twelve portraits in 2017, honoring alumni from thirty years of Roth Endowment programs, features photographer Erika Larsen. You can see Erika’s amazing work at www.erikalarsenphoto.com. Erika won a Project Support Award while she was a Fulbrighter in Sweden in 2010, working on a photography project on the social world of reindeer herding among the Sámi people of northern Scandinavia. Her Roth Endowment award helped her take advantage of a series of opportunities to share her work . . . read more


Mary YatesJanuary Portrait – The Honorable Mary Carlin Yates 

Mary won the Lois Roth Award in 1997 for her performance as a Cultural Affairs Officer in Kinshasa from 1993 to 1995. During her years in Zaire, Mary established relationships with new political groups and the Zairian intellectual community with creativity and ingenuity. Her work not only assisted the US in regaining its former status as a force for justice and the promotion of democracy in the region, but also made a lasting impact on the nature of American-Congolese relations . . . read more