Erin M. Boyd '99
Erin Boyd has run marathons. She has rowed the waters of Worcester’s Lake Quinsigamond and Henley’s River Thames. She has climbed Kilimanjaro and Everest.
Clearly, here is a woman unafraid to set goals, embrace challenges and test physical limits. So we are fortunate she is helping lead a battle—one that has taken her to some of the most devastated places on Earth—with an ancient, deadly foe. Hunger.
When life in a part of the world is unimaginably dire—think of Pakistan, Haiti, Kosovo, Darfur, Ethiopia—Erin, a nutritionist and humanitarian relief worker, is on the ground, not only ensuring that food is reaching people, but also, often amid chaos, training workers, organizing systems and establishing the policies that will enable survival.
War, natural disaster, and other crises bring the pervasive problem of hunger into sharp focus. The World Health Organization reports that hunger is the single gravest threat to public health. The less severe condition of undernourishment affects about 925 million people, or about 14 percent of the world population.
International relief work is extraordinarily complex. Well-intentioned impulses without understanding repercussions can make a devastated situation even worse, as Erin regularly explains to journalists, including CBS News in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake. It is critical that coordinated emergency response and carefully developed policy untangle these complexities. Donations of powdered milk may seem like a solution, for instance, but, in an emergency, breastfeeding cannot be displaced or disease can increase, especially the risk of cholera. Training people, organizing relief operations, educating aid organizations and volunteers, that is the work—the battle—
of Erin Boyd.
After her Holy Cross career (which included study in Australia and a double major in psychology and anthropology), Erin entered the Peace Corps, serving for two years in Nepal, where she helped a group of Nepalese women market their handcrafted pillow covers to raise funds for the education of women and girls. After the Peace Corps and work with the Red Cross in Cambodia, she studied food policy and applied nutrition at Tufts University where she received a master‘s degree, and then worked for Oxfam in Ethiopia and Senegal.
Today, through her work in Darfur with UNICEF, she has planned and implemented clinical research on malnutrition prevention in children under five; managed and trained field staff; coordinated with United Nations’ and government agencies; and advocated for adoption of new nutrition policies and programs. She is widely recognized for her skills in research design, data analysis, and management of nutrition surveillance projects.
For serving on the front lines of humanitarian efforts around the world, for her expertise and skills as a researcher, advocate, and policymaker, and for the tenacity of her beliefs and actions toward lasting peace and justice for those who are suffering, the College of the Holy Cross presents to Erin M. Boyd the Sanctae Crucis Award.