University of Scranton and Creighton University Alums Named 2020 Emerging Leaders for Justice Award Recipients

BY ISN STAFF | September 9, 2020

In partnership with the family of Moira Erin O’Donnell, the Ignatian Solidarity Network announces the 2020 recipients of the Moira Erin O’Donnell Emerging Leaders for Justice Award: Elena Habersky (University of Scranton ‘13) and Will Rutt (Creighton University ‘12).

The O’Donnell Award honors young adults who have received an undergraduate degree from a U.S. Jesuit university and have demonstrated significant social justice leadership in their communities. The 2020 awards will be presented at the virtual event Ignite: A Celebration of Justice on September 23, 2020. 

Elena Habersky is a 2013 graduate of the University of Scranton, and earned her master’s degree in migration and refugee studies at the American University in Cairo (AUC). She currently holds the position of project manager for the Refugee Entitlements in Egypt Project at the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies at AUC. Elena previously worked with urban refugee communities in Amman, Jordan on a Fulbright ETA Fellowship at the Jesuit Refugee Services and Collateral Repair Project. She has also worked at IOM Egypt. Her photographic and written work from ethnographic work conducted in Amman,Will Rutt and Elena Habersky, Emerging Leaders Cairo, and Kampala has been published by the Oxford Monitor of Forced Migration, Muftah Magazine, America Magazine, and The Forward.

Will Rutt is a 2012 graduate of Creighton University. He currently serves as the director of Ignatian service and advocacy at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a graduate of Brophy and additionally holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of San Francisco. During his time at Creighton, Will worked in the Father Schlegel Center for Service and Justice, as a student staff member, where he first cultivated his love for advocacy and interest in migrant justice. During his tenure at Brophy, he co-founded a student group called the Brophy Culture Project, which provides a platform for student narratives that disrupt the many times singular narrative that permeates many of the Jesuit prep schools. For the past three years, Will has helped oversee the DreamOn campaign, which empowers students to leverage their Catholic identity and utilize the power of narrative while seeking justice for those who are undocumented in the United States. Over the last year, Will has assisted in the development and capacity building for community organizing across the Jesuits West province. 

Moira Erin O’Donnell had only served as ISN’s executive director for less than a year when she passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 33.

While her time in service to the Ignatian family was brief, her exuberance and passion for the work of justice can serve as an inspiration for future decades of emerging leaders. In honor of the 10th anniversary of Moira’s passing, on October 9, 2005, the Ignatian Solidarity Network, in partnership with her family, established the annual award to recognize social justice leaders exemplifying a similar commitment to justice in the Ignatian tradition.

Previous recipients of the Moira Erin O’Donnell Emerging Leaders for Justice Award include Sara Beste (Boston College ‘05), Annie Boyd-Ramirez (Marquette University ‘11), Eric Clayton (Fairfield University ‘11), Meaghan Fanning (Rockhurst University ‘12), Andrew Lunetta (Le Moyne College ‘12), Danny Swan (Wheeling Jesuit University ‘09), Kristen Trudo (Loyola Marymount University ‘14). 

Event sponsors include, at the Magis Circle level, Loretta Holstein; at the Loyola Circle level, the University of San Francisco, Robyn and Vince Caponi, Ann Magovern and Kate Carter, and Santa Clara University; at the Xavier Circle level, the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center, Jeannie Anderson-West and David West, Jesuits West, and Loyola University Chicago; and at the Arrupe Circle level, Michael R. Anderson, M.D., Bellarmine College Preparatory, Brophy College Preparatory, the Very Rev. John J. Cecero, S.J., The Church of St. Francis Xavier, the Very Rev. Robert Hussey, S.J., Jesuit High School, Annette Lomont, Peter Albert and Charlotte Mahoney, Bob and Jackie O’Donnell, Baxter and Lorie Rice, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary—Ontario Province, and Xavier University.

Register for Ignite: A Celebration of Justice here, and mark your calendar to join us for the event on Wednesday, September 23, 2020 at 8PM ET live on Facebook!

1 reply
  1. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Working for justice is a mission second to none. Jesus, John the Baptist, Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi – they were all fore-runners on the justice trail. Congrats to Elena Habersky and Will Rutt for their sense of justice.


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