Myla Leguro, M.A. ‘10, has been selected to receive the Kroc Institute’s 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award, an annual honor that showcases Notre Dame peace studies graduates whose careers and lives exemplify the ideas of international peacebuilding.
Leguro will receive this prestigious award in person on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 at 4 p.m., and offer a presentation, “Harnessing the Power of Women in Peacebuilding.” The event will take place in the auditorium at the Hesburgh Center for International Studies, and it will also be livestreamed.
A long-time leader with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in the Philippines, Leguro oversees the agency’s social cohesion and church engagement efforts. As a peace practitioner, her work focuses on advancing the inclusion of women in peace processes and political decision making.
“The Kroc Institute is proud to recognize Myla Leguro as an outstanding example of the dedicated and creative work of our alumni all over the world,” said Anne Hayner, associate director for alumni relations at the Kroc Institute. “Myla developed an impressive record of peacebuilding in Mindanao before coming to Notre Dame, and I suspect students and faculty alike learned as much from her as she did from us. With her important work at CRS and commitment to supporting peacebuilding in the Philippines and around the world, she has remained a key resource for the Kroc Institute ever since.”
Leguro has almost three decades of experience working with CRS, where she has helped forge peaceful relationships among rival indigenous, Muslim, and Christian groups and with the government in Manila.
“I have been engaged in peacebuilding work in Mindanao for 25 years now,” she said. “I am passionate and committed, even with the ebbs and flows of peace in Mindanao. I continuously explore various pathways to sustainable peace; it’s a process of creative engagements that makes the work always exciting and fulfilling.”
Before becoming a student at Notre Dame, Leguro spent three months on campus as a CRS-Kroc Institute visiting fellow in 2006 where she documented the peacebuilding experiences of Mindanao in peace education, interreligious dialogue, zones of peace/spaces for peace, and civil society advocacy.
Her work with CRS introduced her to Kroc Institute faculty including John Paul Lederach, with whom she worked to develop the Reflective Peacebuilding Toolkit in collaboration with CRS. Through this initiative, Leguro became interested in deepening her academic learning on peace studies and peacebuilding, and enrolled as a full-time master’s student in 2008. “In this learning journey, I resolved to use my studies at the Kroc Institute to enhance my peacebuilding practice in Mindanao,” she said.
As a master’s student, Leguro was invited to take part in an apprenticeship program, which provided her the opportunity to be mentored by Lederach for two years, supplementing her formal classroom learning. “Through the apprenticeship program, I had an opportunity to work alongside [Dr. Lederach] in his work with The Asia Foundation (TAF), Federation of Community Forestry Users (FECOFUN) and Mahila Shakti Bikash Kendra Nepal (MSBKN) in Nepal with the Bishops/peace process actors in Mindanao.”
Following graduation, Leguro returned to CRS’ Philippines peacebuilding team to support the start-up of a program focused on integrating governance and peacebuilding work. She learned the process of setting up monitoring and evaluation processes and systems that enabled CRS and its partners to measure impact and outcomes of work on the ground.
During this time she began to re-engage with civil society peace process efforts through the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW), working with other local actors to increase influence and visibility of civil society in the Mindanao Peace Process. This experience led to an opportunity to steer implementation of a land conflict resolution project in Central Mindanao.
From 2016 to 2018, Leguro served as program director of a CRS global program, Advancing Interreligious Peacebuilding. This initiative covers four interrelated projects on interreligious dialogue and cooperation in Egypt, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Niger, Nigeria, and the Philippines.
“I engaged in reflective learning processes with colleagues and partners to develop a definition for interreligious peacebuilding and other thematic guidance in relation to gender, youth and political/institutional engagement,” said Leguro.
Following this, from 2019 to 2020, she provided technical support to various peacebuilding engagements in Asia while continuing to hone her civil society engagements in Mindanao.
Leguro considers her research and reflections as a peacebuilder to have come full circle, in a sense. “My MA paper looked at the visibility of women in peacebuilding. The barriers and opportunities for female engagement in peace processes (both formal and informal) are still relevant now.”
As part of her upcoming visit to Notre Dame, Leguro will describe her life’s work, as well as highlight the effect of the historic United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, passed in 2000 – policy that has enabled women to assert their leadership in peacebuilding and creatively navigate power dynamics.
About the Kroc Institute
Notre Dame's Kroc Institute, part of the Keough School of Global Affairs, is one of the world's principal centers for the study of the causes of violent conflict and strategies for sustainable peace. The Kroc Institute offers undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees in peace studies and supports the International Peace Studies concentration of the Keough School’s Master of Global Affairs. The IPS concentration builds on the Institute’s former Master’s in International Peace Studies.
- Anne Hayner, Associate Director for Alumni Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, 574-631-5014
- Lisa Gallagher, Writer & Content Specialist, email@example.com, 574-631-9370