Warren Wilson College names Ray Offenheiser 2016 commencement speakerMarch 7, 2016
Oxfam America president will appeal to College’s change-making graduates
Warren Wilson College is spotlighting its tradition of creating world change-makers with 2016 commencement speaker Ray Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, the U.S. affiliate of Oxfam International that works to end global poverty. Offenheiser’s speech—“Practical Radicals Wanted to Change the World: Are you ready?”—will serve as the charge to nearly 160 graduating seniors.
“Our world today is starved for a new idealistic generation that cares deeply about poverty, human rights and the planet, is committed to challenging the status quo in constructive ways and is filled with hope and confidence,” said Offenheiser. “I’m delighted to join the 2016 class of Warren Wilson College and their families to celebrate turning this year’s group of practical radicals loose on the world. Those of us in this work await you.”
Both Offenheiser and Warren Wilson College President Steven L. Solnick previously served as overseas representatives of the Ford Foundation. While the pair worked in distinctly different areas—Offenheiser in Bangladesh and the Andean and Southern Cone regions of South America and Solnick in Moscow, Russia, and New Delhi, India—they now both lead organizations dedicated to global engagement.
“The Oxfam International affiliates around the world make up the largest humanitarian assistance organization on the planet,” said Solnick. “For a campus where our students are dedicated to making a difference in the world, this is an excellent opportunity to hear from a person and about an institution doing just that.”
The 2016 Warren Wilson College Commencement ceremony is slated for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 14, on the Sunderland Residence Hall Lawn. “Our students will hear about a life and a career dedicated to helping others around the world,” Solnick added.
Since Offenheiser joined the Boston-based Oxfam America in 1995, the organization has grown more than sevenfold and become a leading voice in the U.S. on a broad array of public policy issues from international development, to human rights and foreign policy.
Before Oxfam, he directed programs for the Inter-American Foundation in both Brazil and Colombia and worked for Save the Children Federation in Mexico. At the 2012 G Meeting, he was appointed by the Obama administration to represent civil society interests on the Leadership Council of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa.
Offenheiser currently sits and has served on numerous boards and advisory bodies for a diverse array of both national and international institutions, including but not limited to the World Economic Forum, Clinton Global Initiative, World Agricultural Forum, Gates Foundation, and Kellogg Center at the University of Notre Dame, his alma mater. He was a co-founder and board member of the ONE Campaign, Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network and Food Policy Action Network. He also served as honorary President of Wetlands International.
In addition to commencement, Warren Wilson College presents honors and awards to numerous students at a separate ceremony slated for Friday, May 13.
For more information about Ray Offenheiser and Oxfam America, visit http://oxfamamerica.org.
Additional information about Warren Wilson College’s graduation ceremonies is available at http://www.warren-wilson.edu/about/commencement.