2016 Middelthon-Candler Honorees
PEACE PRIZE – Khaliya
Honors leadership in the promotion of fraternity between peoples and nations.
Khaliya is a humanitarian, public health specialist and leading advocate for mental health, committed to grappling with the far-reaching effects of today’s mental health crisis by promoting radical innovation in a field that has not progressed in step with medical innovation as a whole. It is her belief that lasting peace and prosperity can only be achieved if the fundamental requirements for health, both physical and mental, are made available to those in need.
An expert in global pandemics with a background in computer science, Khaliya sees mental health as among the most crucial social issues of the coming century. Together with her partner Thomas Ermacora she co-founded Falkora, a not for profit mental health and neurotech initiative to help put cross disciplinary approaches to mental health at the top of the political agenda in the United States and internationally.
In addition to campaigning to expand the definition of mental illness so future funding can catch up with the scope of the problem, the organization is exploring how new technologies can leapfrog outdated approaches to mental wellbeing. Tech innovations, she believes, could not only reach a wider group of people in need within the U.S. but also bring down the cost of mental health tools worldwide, sparking a necessary paradigm shift in mental health care.
Actively involved with numerous social ventures, Khaliya is an investor in, and head of strategic partnerships for, Guardian Circle, an app that uses the power of crowdsourcing and social networks to keep individuals safe. Additionally, she is founder of two projects currently under production: The League of Extraordinary Minds, a website that celebrates the achievements of exceptional individuals with mental conditions, and Tell Your Story, an app that uses storytelling to support rape victims. She is also on the advisory committee for NeuroLaunch, the leading accelerator for neuroscience apps and Co-executive Producer for Breadhead, an explosive documentary about the looming worldwide epidemic of diet-related neurodegenerative disease.
A graduate with honors, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Khaliya was on the board of the world’s largest private development network from 2006 through 2010 – work that took her to over 30 countries as a health specialist and as part of diplomatic delegations throughout Africa and Asia.
Before that, she was on a research team focused on infectious disease and national security at the Council on Foreign Relations and worked to negotiate lower-cost opportunistic infections drugs for YRG Care AIDS hospital in India. After receiving her B.A. with honors in European Studies and International Affairs at New York University, Khaliya worked two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bulgaria during the country’s rocky post-Communism transition period.
One of the first members of the Board of Directors for Venture for America, Khaliya continues to sit on their entrepreneur board, and is also on the advisory boards of post-natal care nonprofit Embrace, the Nexus Global Youth Summit and Charity Miles, an app that allows amateur runners and bikers to turn their workouts into fundraisers.
Khaliya is part of the Clinton Global Initiative LEAD program for young change makers and has spoken on health issues at The White House United States of Women Summit, The World Economic Forum Family Business Summit, The Near Future Summit, The American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Clinton Global Initiative University, Nexus Global Youth Summit, Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, The United Nations and various others.
JUSTICE PRIZE – First Lady Rosalynn Carter
Honors leadership in effecting positive social change.
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has worked for more than four decades to improve the quality of life for people around the world. Today, she is a leading advocate for mental health, caregiving, early childhood immunization, human rights, and conflict resolution through her work at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The Center is a private, nonprofit institution founded by former President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter in 1982.
A full partner with the president in all the Center’s activities, the former first lady is a member of the Carter Center Board of Trustees. She created and chairs the Carter Center’s Mental Health Task Force, an advisory body of experts, consumers, and advocates promoting positive change in the mental health field. Each year, she hosts the Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy, bringing together leaders of the nation’s mental health organizations to address critical issues.
Mrs. Carter emerged as a driving force for mental health when, during the Carter administration, she became active honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health, which resulted in passage of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980.
She served on the Policy Advisory Board of The Atlanta Project (TAP), a program of The Carter Center addressing the social ills associated with poverty and quality of life citywide, from the program’s inception in 1991 until its transfer to Georgia State University in 1999. In 1988, she convened with three other former first ladies the “Women and the Constitution” conference at The Carter Center to assess that document’s impact on women.
Outside the center, Mrs. Carter is president of the board of directors for the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI), which was established in her honor on the campus of her alma mater, Georgia Southwestern State University, in Americus, Georgia. Through research, education, and training, the RCI promotes the mental health and well-being of individuals, families, and professional caregivers; delineates effective caregiving practices; builds public awareness of caregiving needs; and advances public and social policies that enhance caring communities.
A mother of four, with 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, she has maintained a life long dedication to issues affecting women and children. In 1991, she launched with Mrs. Betty Bumpers, wife of former U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers of Arkansas, Every Child By Two, a nationwide campaign to protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases by raising awareness of the critical need for timely infant immunizations. She also works with Habitat for Humanity, participating in the annual weeklong Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project that in 1984 began building homes for the needy, and Project Interconnections, a public/private nonprofit partnership to provide housing for homeless people who are mentally ill. She served as distinguished centennial lecturer at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, from 1988-1992 and is currently a distinguished fellow at the Emory University Department of Women’s Studies in Atlanta.
Since graduating from Georgia Southwestern College in 1946, Mrs. Carter has received many honors, among them the Volunteer of the Decade Award from the National Mental Health Association; the Award of Merit for Support of the Equal Rights Amendment from the National Organization for Women; the Notre Dame Award for International Service; the Eleanor Roosevelt Living World Award from Peace Links; the Kiwanis World Service Medal from Kiwanis International Foundation; the Jefferson Award from the American Institute for Public Service; the Georgia Woman of the Year Award from the Georgia Commission on Women; the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health from the Institute of Medicine; the United States Surgeon General’s Medallion; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. In 2001, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
She has written five books: her autobiography First Lady from Plains; Everything To Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life, a book about life after the White House co authored with President Carter; Helping Yourself Help Others: A Book For Caregivers (with Susan K. Golant); Helping Someone with Mental Illness: A Compassionate Guide for Family, Friends, and Caregivers (with Susan K. Golant), which was selected as the winner of the 1999 American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Book Award in the service category; and Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis (with Susan K. Golant and Kathryn E. Cade). She continues to travel and speak throughout the world, is a deacon at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, and enjoys fly-fishing, bird-watching, swimming, and biking in her free time.
MILLENNIUM GATE PRIZE – Kessel Stelling
Honors excellence in the arts, sciences, or business.
Kessel Stelling serves as Chairman and CEO of Synovus, a $29 billion asset bank. Mr. Stelling leads a talented team of bankers, investment professionals, and support teams in developing strategies designed to drive growth. He guides a team consisting of commercial, retail, corporate, and financial management services professionals in building long-term relationships while also ensuring the company remains focused on fostering a great working environment, effectively managing risk, reducing expenses, and increasing shareholder value.
Mr. Stelling began his career with Synovus in March 2006 when the company purchased Riverside Bancshares, Inc., and merged it with Bank of North Georgia, headquartered in Alpharetta. In June 2008, he was promoted to Synovus Regional CEO for the Atlanta market. Mr. Stelling was named Synovus President and Chief Operating Officer in February 2010 and was named President and Chief Executive Officer in October 2010. He became Chairman of the Board in January 2012.
In addition to his Mr. Stelling serves the chairman of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, the Treasurer of the Financial Services Roundtable, a board member of the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) Foundation Inc., the 2014 Chairman of the Dean’s Advisory Council of the University of Georgia Terry College of Business, and serves on the board of Georgia Power and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Stelling has been honored with the Leadership Character Award from the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership and the Blue Key Service Award from the University of Georgia Chapter of the Blue Key National Honor Society. He has been named to the list of the “100 Most Influential Georgians” by Georgia Trend Magazine every year since 2009, and was awarded the “Distinguished Alumni Award” by the University of Georgia Terry College of Business.
In 2007-08 the United States and the world suffered one of the greatest financial recessions in history. Banks and great financial institutions were failing almost daily for a period of time. Mr. Stelling’s deft management and wise, steady strategy and planning brought about a renaissance at Synovus, one of the nation’s largest banking institutions, saving thousands of jobs and billions of dollars. He has been a great steward to Georgia and the nation.