The 2019 Bernice Behrens Founder’s Award committee is happy to announce Ms. Diane Mitchell Henry and Ms. Robin Winter Odem as the recipients of 2019 Bernice Behrens Founder’s Award. 

Our committee has chosen Ms. Diane Mitchell Henry and Ms. Robin Winter Odem for their extraordinary efforts to implement the mission of the organization. Both have provided AWIU with opportunities to continue to create an international network of women to foster understanding and goodwill.

Ms. Diane Mitchell Henry is being awarded the Bernice Behrens Founder’s Award for her work in the governance of AWIU, enhancement of its mission as well as for her role in providing opportunities for young women in the D.C. area to attend an educational symposium on international careers and for her efforts to provide young women with career opportunities in international relations through Career Opportunities through International Relations (COIR).

Ms. Robin Winter Odem is being awarded the Bernice Behrens Founder’s Award for her contributions to the governance of AWIU, enhancement of its mission, for her dedication to women’s issues as well as for her role at the chapter level in promoting woman to woman understanding and for her role in educating her chapter members in international understanding.

Diane Mitchell Henry

Diane Mitchell Henry is a global social justice advocate, humanitarian entrepreneur and marketing consultant. Diane joined American Women for International Understanding (AWIU) in 2012.  From 2012-2018, she served as a member of the AWIU Board of Directors and Chair for the Los Angeles County Chapter (LACC).  Diane is currently Co-Chair of the LACC. Other AWIU committee positions held include the International Women of Courage (IWOC), Internationalism Award (Chair), Nomination (Chair), Development and Finance.

Passionate about youth global engagement, Diane is the Founder and Chair of the AWIU Career Opportunities for International Relations (COIR) Program, an empowerment leadership initiative designed for students and young adults interested in engaging in projects, events and activities that offer international career and diplomacy options, internships, volunteer and entrepreneur opportunities. COIR started in 2015 and for the past 4 years COIR and the U.S. Department of State have collaborated to offer the program in Washington, D.C.

Mindful of the AWIU mission Diane introduced and coordinated several programs and events in collaboration with other local and national individuals and organizations engaged in international relations and diplomacy.

Diane Mitchell Henry is honored to receive this award and to be a part of AWIU, “The AWIU organization is a dedicated transforming cornerstone in the global arena. As a powerful group of women, we continue to Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Brilliant to Be Better in order to responsibly embrace the opportunities that address the issues affecting the equity and humanity of women around the world and around the block.”

Robin Winter Odem

A native of Iowa, Ms. Odem owned property in Wapello, Iowa until recently.  She graduated from and University of Iowa and received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Nebraska.  Ms. Odem’s first job was at University Hospitals in Iowa City where she was the first social worker in Iowa evaluating patients for kidney transplants before coverage by Medicare.  Then she was with the Adolescent Unit before becoming the Acting Director of the Division of Behavioral Sciences at La Rabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago, and ending her career as a Licensed Clinical Worker for the Chicago Public Schools.

Upon retiring, Ms. Odem joined the President’s Club at the University of Iowa and developed a Scholarship Program in 1998 in memory of her mother and husband to help students with their education.  Ms. Odem has helped 40 students, and was recognized by the University of Iowa Center for Advancement and the students for twenty years of contribution.  Ms. Odem is Film Discussion Chair for International Women’s Association (500 members) and was Social Committee Chair and played tennis for the Chicago Advertising Tennis Society. Ms. Odem founded the Social Work Dinner Club and is a Friendship Force hostess for incoming foreign visitors to Chicago.

Robin Winter Odem joined the Chicago Chapter of the American Women for International Understanding in late 1995.  Ms. Odem was interested in how AWIU decided to help women worldwide in their daily activities and to make a living.  Ms. Odem was mentored by Ms. Pat Hutar and Ms. Martha Atherton, legends in AWIU history.  Ms. Odem learned from ‘experts’ about AWIU and history of the organization.

Becoming Co-chair and Chapter Chair many years ago, was a daunting task, but time for consistent new activities.  An Executive Planning Committee was developed, and an email list was initiated to bring in new members.  We were the first Chapter to have a relevant program on Human Trafficking with a dynamic speaker, showing movies, going to the theater, having AWIU night, having fundraisers, as well as hearing from actual participants.  We even partnered with International Women’s Association on showing an Award winning movie on Human Trafficking.

Also, in addition to other activities on the local level, Ms. Odem has been on the Board of Directors and served on many committees, such as the Delegation, Membership, Chair, Berneice Behrens Committee, Attended IWOC Celebrations, Hostess at IWOC, Legacy Award in 2006, Heritage member, and participated in eight Delegations.  The 50th Anniversary of AWIU held in Chicago received many compliments, as have other National activities in Chicago of which Ms. Odem was the host.  Ms. Odem was recently elected as a  2019 Board Member.