Creating is the name of the game for Ann Tutwiler ’80. Before she came to Davidson, there was no international studies concentration. She and other political science majors worked with Prof. Lou Ortmayer to build the case for the Dean Rusk Program. At the Harvard Kennedy School, she had to build her own concentration in development.
Every position she has held in her professional life did not exist before her. Today, Davidson students can discover the same “ah-ha” moments that have shaped Tutwiler’s life and find ways to create their own way.
“I studied abroad in Spain, and seeing the rural poverty there was numbing,” she says. “It opened my eyes to the disparity between urban and rural areas as well as political and economic disparities.”
Following Davidson, where Tutwiler enrolled as a transfer student sophomore year, she went to Kenya and wound up as a headmistress of a school. What she soon realized is that she had a choice to make: Help people on a one-to-one basis or tackle systemic issues. Confronting the bigger picture—agriculture, hunger, production—was how she would make a difference.
Aligned with her experiences is the M. Ann Tutwiler Developing Country Travel Fund, which she supports today with current-use gifts and will continue to support through a bequest.
“I firmly believe if you don’t understand people from other places and the options they have on a deep level, you can’t be a global citizen,” she says. “Students are comfortable traveling to London or Montpelier, but I want them to have incentive to go to India or Tanzania, too.”
Tutwiler explains the career whiplash she experienced, going straight from a schoolhouse in Kenya to the 96th floor of the World Trade Center. Since then, she has held multiple leadership roles in the global food, agriculture and biodiversity space, including time spent in President Obama’s administration and with the United Nations and, today, as an advisor and board member for several organizations. Her global impact and perspective will influence even more Davidson students when she comes to campus next spring as the James K. Batten Professor of Public Policy.
Tutwiler has created change, opportunity and jobs her entire life. Her generosity and teaching will inspire the next generation of change-makers to strive for equality the world over, too.