This endowment was established in 2000 in the name of the late Marjorie Severyns Ravenholt, an expert on Asia who worked for government, news and non-profit organizations. Born in 1920 in Sunnyside WA, Marjorie Severyns Ravenholt was an adventurous, bold, and public-spirited woman. Her ties to Asia and the Pacific Rim began when she was an exchange student in Japan, Korea and Manchuria. She graduated from the University of Washington and studied at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. In World War II, she served in India and China as an intelligence agent for the United States Office of Strategic Services, and later became a correspondent in China for Life magazine. She also worked briefly for the United States Board of Economic Warfare during the war.
After the war, Severyns Ravenholt served as an analyst for a United States economic mission to China and later was director of education and information for the Sino-American Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction, which modernized much of Taiwan. She also spent more than 30 years helping to run the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, a program funded through the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation that honors public service and transformative leadership in Asia.
She and her husband, Albert Ravenholt, were among seven veteran journalists who returned to China in 1985 at the invitation of the Government.
Past Severyns Ravenholt Lecturers have included:
- 2000: Frank Ching - Senior Editor, Far Eastern Economic Review
- 2001: Jose Ramos-Horta - Nobel Peace Prize Winner
- 2003: Long Yongtu - Secretary-General, Bo'Ao Forum for Asia; Former Vice Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation of the People's Republic of China Former Chief Trade Representative
- 2004: Zainah Anwar - Executive Director, Sisters in Islam, Malaysia
- 2006: Anwar Ibrahim - President, Anwar Ibrahim & Associates; Former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and former Minister of Finance
- 2009: Jingjing Zhang- Director of Litigation, Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims in China
- 2010: Ban Ki-moon - United Nations Secretary General
- 2011: Madame Yang Lan - Chairwoman, Sun Culture Foundation, Television host, "Yang Lan One on One"