VILLANOVA, Pa. – The Center for Peace and Justice Education at Villanova University will present its 2014 Adela Dwyer-St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award to Kevin Ryan, President and CEO of Covenant House, the largest privately- funded charity in the Americas providing loving care and vital services to homeless, abandoned, abused, trafficked, and exploited youth. Ryan will accept the Award and present a lecture, “Together: A Voice for Our Children,” Friday, Nov. 21 at 3 p.m. in Driscoll Hall Room 132. The event is free and open to the public. Since 1990, the Adela Dwyer-St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award has recognized an individual or group annually for outstanding contributions to the understanding of the meaning and conditions of justice and peace in human communities.
Ryan, a father, activist and child advocate, currently runs Covenant House International, reaching more than 56,000 vulnerable young people annually in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala. Through Covenant House, Ryan works to prevent the murder and exploitation of street youth. Under his leadership new homes have been opened for children in Anchorage, Atlanta, Philadelphia, with Mexico City scheduled to be added next year. During the 1990s, Ryan spent nearly a decade on Covenant House's frontlines, working with homeless and trafficked children on the streets of New York and New Jersey. In 2003 he was named New Jersey’s first public Child Advocate. As Child Advocate, Ryan exposed illegal overcrowding conditions in many of the State’s juvenile detention centers and the plight of children languishing in the State’s then-floundering foster care system.
Ryan and former New York Times reporter Tina Kelley, are the authors of “Almost Home,” a national bestselling book published in 2012 which chronicles the extraordinary true journey of six homeless teenagers in the United States and Canada. He has appeared as a guest on the “Today Show,” CNN and Fox television networks and “60 Minutes." His advocacy earned him front-page stories in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Ryan earned his B.A. from Catholic University, a J.D. from Georgetown Law Center, and an L.L.M. from NYU Law School. He is a former Skadden Fellow and Wasserstein Fellow at Harvard Law School.
“Kevin Ryan has spent decades advocating on behalf of some of the most vulnerable among us,” said Kathryn Getek Soltis, PhD, Director of Villanova’s Center for Peace and Justice Education. “Whether on the streets with homeless youth or at the helm of Covenant House, his vision of human dignity and justice has transformed countless lives and teaches us about the sort of society we must strive to become.”
The University’s Center for Peace and Justice Education selects the award recipient from a list of candidates nominated by members of the Villanova University community. Past winners include NETWORK; Wendell Berry; Leymah Gbowee; Noam Chomsky; Daniel J. Berrigan, SJ; Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ; Project H.O.M.E.; and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.