Haas awards honor two civic-minded alumni



Zivorad Kovacevic with his wife, Margita, at student demonstrations in Belgrade in 1997. The sign behind them says "Walk with us."
photo courtesy Jelena Kovacevic

14 March 2001 | A Yugoslavian resistance leader and a local advocate for foster children will receive two campus honors presented annually to alumni who have made significant contributions at home and abroad.

Zivorad Kovacevic will receive the Elise and Walter A. Haas International Award, and Amy Lemley is the recipient of the Peter E. Haas Public Service Award.

Both awards will be presented at the Charter Day ceremony, 10 a.m. to noon, Friday, March 23, in Zellerbach Auditorium. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

That afternoon, each recipient will give a free public lecture in the Morrison Reading Room, Doe Library. Kovacevic speaks at 2 p.m. on “The International Community and the Yugoslav Crisis,” and Lemley speaks at 3 p.m. on “Guiding Foster Children to Adulthood.”

Haas International Award
Zivorad Kovacevic, formerly a mayor of Belgrade and ambassador to the United States from Yugoslavia, was a key figure in organizing public resistance to the totalitarian regime of former Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milosevic.

Recipient of a 1960 master’s degree in political science at Berkeley, he is the 32nd recipient of the Haas International Award, which recognizes an alumnus from outside the United States who has a distinguished record of service to his or her country. The award was established in 1964 by Mr. and Mrs. Walter A. Haas Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Peter E. Haas, and Mr. and Mrs. Richard N. Goldman.

Kovacevic’s nomination was endorsed by many alumni and faculty and by two former U.S. ambassadors to Yugoslavia. Alumni Mary Hafner, ’53, and Richard Hafner, ’50, lauded his “strong personal dedication to the public resistance to the Milosevic regime, both in the streets and in the news media.”

Born in Yugoslavia in 1930, Kovacevic studied journalism and diplomacy at the University of Belgrade before coming to Berkeley, and he later studied international relations at Harvard. He has published widely and his work has helped protect the environment and promote improved relations among neighboring countries in the Mediterranean and Europe. For two years he led the European Movement in Serbia, a group that opposed the Milosevic regime and its policies.

He was recalled as Yugoslavian ambassador to the U.S., he says, because he “rejected all the pressures to be made a cat’s paw of Milosevic.”

“I packed my bags without remorse and bitterness,” he says, and returned home to participate in all public protests against the policy of totalitarianism and aggression of the government.” He and his wife Margita were active in mass demonstrations during the winter of 1996-97 against corrupt local elections. “Rain or shine we went there every day for 88 days,” he says.

Haas Public Service Award
Amy Lemley, ’98, is the co-founder of the First Place Fund for Youth, a non-profit organization that helps young people in their transition from foster homes to independence and adulthood. She is the second recipient of the Haas Public Service Award, established by Mrs. Peter E. Haas to recognize an alumnus who has made a significant contribution in community service, health care, the environment or education in the United States.

Lemley’s involvement with foster children stems from her studies in the Goldman School of Public Policy at Berkeley, where she submitted a graduate thesis on the use of welfare in San Francisco by former foster youth. Her work documented the situation of former foster children, who can be ill-equipped to deal with finances, housing and similar responsibilities.

“Foster youth have enormous potential,” Lemley says. “But because of structural barrier in the foster-care system, their opportunities are very limited. The best reward that I see in my work is when foster youth are able to access their personal strengths to achieve what’s important to them and to take control of their futures.”

The First Place program, founded in 1998, provides micro-loans to cover start-up housing costs and offers counseling and training in practical financial skills.

Lemley also spearheaded development of the Alameda County Foster Youth Alliance, a network of community resources for young people who have recently “aged out” of foster care. The alliance includes a network of property owners who help provide affordable housing.


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