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A Beacon of Hope

Young Government Leaders (YGL) and GovLoop present the NextGen Public Service Awards for superior public service and achievement. The 5th Annual NextGen Public Service Awards will be given at the 2015 NextGen Award’s Ceremony, which will kick off the NextGen Training Summit on July 20th and 21st in Washington, DC. This year we have 30 finalists – the NextGen 30. Over the next month we will introduce you to our finalists through this blog series.

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 Meet the finalist:

Who: Joan Mower, Head of International Media Training and Development at the Broadcasting Board of Governors

Achievement: NextGen Public Service Finalist, Advocate Category

“In an agency once described as ‘practically defunct’ by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and certifiably ‘dysfunctional,’ according to the Office of Inspector General, Ms. Mower and her staff distinguish themselves by their devotion in support of the agency’s mission to promote democracy and freedom worldwide. Joan Mower is the definition of intelligent and exuberant. As the Director of Development and International Media Training at the BBG, she leads a small team dedicated to working with other government agencies to use broadcasting to improve women’s rights, freedom of expression, democracy, health and education around the world.” –Doug Boynton, Broadcasting Board of Governors. Boynton nominated Mower for the NextGen Advocate Award.

Freedom of the press: Joan Mower lives by these four words. As the head of International Media Training at the Broadcasting Board of Governors, or the BBG, Mower has spent her career defending this principle at home and abroad. Speaking from her extensive time spent traveling to the earth’s furthest corners, Mower said, “[f]or the people around the world, [the United States] remains a beacon of hope.” Mower works to keep it that way. Traveling to “remote and sometimes dangerous places,” Mower acts with the BBG to promote press freedom internationally by organizing town hall meetings, funding informative news broadcasts and training journalists.

The BBG is a federal agency that runs all of the U.S.’s non-military international broadcasting. Programs such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Middle East Broadcasting Network and Radio Free Asia deliver news and information in 50 languages to an audience of over 200 million people around the world.

Mower travels to underdeveloped countries to disseminate important health and human rights information. Now she’s training others to do the same. Serving as a liaison between BBG and other agencies with government-prioritized broadcasting projects, Mower has impacted millions of people’s lives.

When the Centers for Disease Control was combatting polio in Northern Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, they relied on Mower and the BBG to broadcast accurate reports on how the condition is transmitted and information about vaccines. With funding from the CDC, Mower orchestrated a campaign of several PSAs and broadcast them over BBG networks. According to BBG’s Doug Boynton, “Since the campaign, polio has declined to just one case in Northern Nigeria – and is on the verge of being eradicated worldwide.”

In addition to her work as a media liaison between government agencies, Mower is passionate about guiding the next generation of journalists. Mower raises funds for international media training and special broadcasting around the world, with a special focus on Africa. Through these programs, she and her staff “train journalists on how to report fairly, what role journalists play in a democracy and how to cover specific topics like health and women’s rights,” said Boynton.

Having grown up in Africa, Mower said, “I’ve always had a passion to work in developing countries and to work with the media.” According to Mower, the press is in a state of decline; journalists are often the victims of attacks for simply spreading information in “less free” countries. She believes the U.S.’s biggest distinguishing factor from any other country is its First Amendment press protections. “The free flow of information is about the most important thing that you can have and people around the world will die for that,” Mower said.

When asked what motivates her, Mower said, “I’m a public servant because I believe that there’s no higher calling than serving the public.” She believes that giving back is one of the most important and rewarding things an individual can do. She explained, “Money doesn’t buy happiness, money doesn’t buy success, money doesn’t buy you fulfillment.” To her, public service is rewarding in a way that most jobs are not. Working for the greater good – for millions of people abroad, Joan Mower is the real beacon of hope.

We will be talking to all the NextGen Public Service Award finalists in the upcoming weeks. See the full list here. Finally, register to attend the Awards Ceremony to get to know the NextGen 30 in-person!

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