The Dordt College Alumni Council has named Michelle (Bootsma) Bekkering as the 2015 recipient of the Dordt College Distinguished Alumni Award. Bekkering is an Iowa native who studied at Dordt from 1994 to 1998 and graduated with a major in political science.
“Michelle embodies the mission of Dordt College and it’s refreshing to see her Christian perspective coming through in her international work, which advances freedom and democracy worldwide,” said Dordt Alumni Director Brandon Huisman.
The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves through service in their communities and who give evidence of living out a reformational worldview through valuable contribution to their field of study.
Bekkering recognizes the role Dordt College played in shaping her for a life of service: “When I was at Dordt, I was challenged to consider and understand the Reformed worldview and how it applies to every area of life. The fact that God is sovereign and encompasses every sphere has been motivating in my professional career.”
This motivation has served Bekkering well in her work. She is currently director of governance for the International Republican Institute (IRI) in Washington, D.C. The IRI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to advancing freedom and democracy. In her position, Bekkering oversees the institute’s global democratic governance programs designed to help governments implement transparent and accountable practices and promote citizen engagement. Since 2005, Bekkering has worked with IRI in communities across the globe in several positions:
- Resident country director for Indonesia
- Overseer of the Institute’s “Winning with Women” program
- Director for the Women’s Democracy Network
- Deputy director for Eurasia
- Overseer of the Baltic-Eurasia Inter-Parliamentary Training Institute
- Representative for the Institute as a guest academic lecturer, trainer, and accredited election observer on five continents
“I cannot overemphasize the benefits of the Dordt community,” said Bekkering of the role Dordt played in her development. “Not only did I learn a lot while there, but I developed a support structure that has carried through the rest of my life.”
Bekkering’s advocacy efforts on behalf of women’s political empowerment were rewarded when Bekkering was named a 2013 Top Global Woman by the global affairs magazine Diplomatic Courier. “I see my calling as a Christian in the field of politics and international relations is to act as God’s servant and to strive to bring mercy to the needy and justice to the oppressed. Through my work with marginalized communities (women primarily), I strive to advocate for legislation that offers them protection from abuse and discrimination.”
As the 2015 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, Bekkering will honored with the award during Dordt’s Defender Days.