Chief Electoral Commissioner of Sierra Leone Receives IFES’ 2014 Baxter Award
WASHINGTON, D.C. — (July 8, 2014) — The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is pleased to announce Dr. Christiana Thorpe, Chief Electoral Commissioner and Chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) of Sierra Leone, as the 2014 Joe C. Baxter Award recipient.
The annual Baxter Award recognizes the contributions of election professionals whose skills, dedication and sacrifices to the field of election administration epitomize the mission of IFES and embody the spirit of former IFES Senior Adviser for Election Administration Joe C. Baxter.
Dr. Thorpe is the first woman to serve as Chief Electoral Commissioner in Sierra Leone. A former nun, she has spent her life fighting for the rights of the most vulnerable in society and served as an electoral administrator for many years. During her tenure as the head of the NEC, the Commission has implemented meaningful reforms and conducted elections that have been agreed upon by all electoral stakeholders and the international community as being free, fair, transparent and in conformity with international best practices.
"The Baxter Award confirms for me IFES' belief in the democratic culture and walking that talk. I appreciate the recognition that well-administered elections play a great role in stabilizing otherwise fragile states by helping to sustain the peace so that development can take place after years of conflict," said Dr. Thorpe.
Dr. Thorpe will receive the 2014 Baxter Award at a special reception on November 3, during IFES' U.S. Election Program taking place in Washington, D.C. and attended by election practitioners from around the world.
"Dr. Thorpe's career proves difficult challenges to election administration and voter identity can be addressed and resolved in a professional manner when reasonable people are willing to work together. Her leadership in Sierra Leone is both aspirational and inspirational to all of us," IFES President and CEO Bill Sweeney noted.
The Baxter Award is given in memory of the late Joe C. Baxter, a legendary figure in the field of international electoral assistance. Baxter began his work with IFES in 1994 as Chief of Party in Ghana, setting up mechanisms to register 9.2 million voters and train tens of thousands of election officials. In recognition of his efforts, he was named a chief by one of Ghana's largest tribes. From 1997-2002, as a Senior Adviser to IFES, his professionalism, kindness and respect left lasting impacts on the people he worked with during IFES missions to Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
Previous recipients of the Baxter Award include Professor of Political Science and Government at Aarhus University (Denmark) Dr. Jørgen Elklit, former Chairman of the Philippine Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Christian S. Monsod, campaign finance expert Delia Ferreira Rubio (Argentina), Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, and elections expert Rafael López-Pintor (Spain).