Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes with Akilah Graduates
The Frazier Family
The Soaring Eagle Distinguished Alumnus Award was instituted in 2014 to recognize an alumnus of St. John’s Episcopal Parish Day School who is a leader in their field or community and who continues to demonstrate the core values, mission, and philosophy of the School, being “grounded by a commitment to spiritual and ethical values, a love of learning, and the development of strong character.”
If you believe you know a Soaring Eagle, please click here to go to our application form. The final selection of the Soaring Eagle will be made by a committee comprised of faculty, staff, Trustees, other alumni, and parents.
The 2015 Soaring Eagle Distinguished Alumna was Elizabeth Dearborn Hughes.
After graduating from St. John’s, this honoree went on to Berkeley for high school and to Vanderbilt University for her undergraduate degree. Only a month after graduating from Vanderbilt, when she was only 21, she moved to Rwanda, where she noticed that Rwandans were intensely focused on moving forward after the genocide, and she began to envision ways to contribute. After two years spent volunteering, she decided to start the Akilah Institute to prepare young women for leadership roles and professional careers.
Akilah is now an accredited college offering diplomas in Entrepreneurship, Information Systems, and Hospitality Management, the three highest-growth sectors of the East African economy. Sixty-eight percent of students are the first women in their family to attend college. Newsweek and The Daily Beast recognized Elizabeth as one of the 125 Women of Impact and Forbes named her one of the World’s Most Influential Female Social Entrepreneurs. Elizabeth received the Woman of Peace award from the Women’s Peace Power Foundation in October 2009 and was selected as a Praxis Fellow in 2013.
The inaugural Soaring Eagle Distinguished Alumna was Elizabeth Frazier, awarded in May 2014. Elizabeth’s personal and professional achievements make her uniquely qualified to receive this award. The bulk of her career has been focused on building the capacity of individuals and communities to affect positive change, and leveraging private funding for the public good. She is a role model as a professional, volunteer, mother, and friend.
A native of Tampa, Elizabeth spent many years in the Washington D.C. area, where she held Director-level positions with The SEED Foundation, a national non-profit that provides innovative educational opportunities to at-risk youth. As Executive Director of the Lightning Foundation and Vice President of Philanthropy and Community Initiatives, Elizabeth led a transformation of the Foundation. She is actively engaged in the broader community, is a frequent presenter on the local, regional, and national stage, and was a finalist for the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s “Businesswoman of the Year” award.