News and analysis
November 23, 2015

SXSW Award Winners Include Ali Gohar for Peace Efforts in Pakistan

The key to modern peace lies in the past. That belief drives Ali Gohar, founder of Just Peace Initiatives, to promote conflict resolution in his native Pakistan through jirgas, an ancient network of community-justice councils.

For this work, and his advocacy on behalf of Afghan refugees, Mr. Gohar was named one of 10 winners of the 2016 Dewey Winburne Community Service Awards.

The awards, to be presented in March at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Tex., honor the late Dewey Winburne, a conference co-founder with a passion for education and technology. Winners get $1,000 and an opportunity to discuss their work at the popular event.

The nine other recipients are:

  • Kara Andrade (Austin, Tex.), founder of, a citizen-journalism website that people in Latin America use to share information in indigenous and other languages.
  • Richard Bbaale (Kampala, Uganda), founder of BanaPads, a company that manufactures biodegradable sanitary pads for village girls, and Sovhen, a nongovernmental organization that supports vulnerable children.
  • Maria Rose Belding (Washington, D.C.), a founder and the executive director of the MEANs Database, a nonprofit website that connects food banks and pantries with interested donors.
  • Emile Cambry Jr. (Chicago), founder of the technology incubator Blue1647 and president of the Chicago International Social Change Film Festival.
  • Robi Damelin (Ramat-Efal, Israel), Israeli spokesperson for Parents Circle Families Forum, a group of Israeli and Palestinian families that advocate for peaceful reconciliation.
  • Marissa Jennings (Washington, D.C.), chief executive of Socialgrlz, a digital magazine for African-American girls.
  • Meghana Reddy (La Mesa, Calif.), founder of Limbs with Love, which provides free prosthetic limbs to people who need them.
  • Marty Tenenbaum (Cambridge, Mass.), founder of Cancer Commons, a nonprofit network that provides treatment recommendations based on clinical trials.
  • Priya Verma (Alberta, Canada), founder of Child, Youth, Women and Environment, a nonprofit website that raises awareness about efforts to solve global problems.

Send an email to Rebecca Koenig.