USD's Aker Joins Women's Hall of Fame

Dee Aker, interim director of University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, has been named to the San Diego Women’s Hall of Fame in the category “Trailblazer” for creating the Women PeaceMakers and WorldLink programs and the Nepal Peacebuilding Initiative. Aker joins just 65 other women who have been inducted into the hall, including the institute’s founding donor, Joan B. Kroc. Join the IPJ and the Women’s Museum of California at the induction ceremony and dinner this Friday, March 28th.

According to the organization, “The Women's Hall of Fame is an annual induction ceremony that recognizes five women from San Diego whose actions and accomplishments have visibly made a difference for women in the community. The five women honored every year will be remembered for their efforts in a Hall of Fame exhibit housed at the Women's Museum of California.” The Women’s Hall of Fame seeks to recognize women who have greatly impacted the quality of life for others in San Diego County.

President of USD, Mary E. Lyons expressed pride in hearing of Aker’s recognition. “Dee’s service to others and her capacity for compassion is unparalleled. She is one of USD’s true treasures that we are proud to share with the world. She could not be more deserving of this prestigious award.”

Aker, currently interim director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice (IPJ), is a psychological anthropologist and conflict resolution professional with over 40 years of experience working with international communities and individuals in transition. At the IPJ, Aker created and has directed the Women PeaceMakers Program, WorldLink Program, and the Nepal Peacebuilding Initiative.

Her work includes whole community approaches to peacebuilding — providing needed skills and environments for youth, women, political and business leaders, and security sector personnel to develop their capacities to communicate, collaborate, and negotiate as joint stakeholders in just and peaceful democratic processes.

Aker has facilitated training, communications, and negotiations for groups and individuals in conflict and transition in Europe, Africa, Central America, and South Asia. Before coming to the IPJ, she worked with Carl Rogers at the Center for Studies of the Person and the Carl Rogers Institute for Peace, on conflict transformation efforts in Europe and Central America.

In addition to her work peacebuilding, Aker has extensive experience in higher education in the United States and Kenya, including senior administration, teaching and curriculum development. She worked for 10 years as a regular TV host, columnist, and freelance journalist covering women and gender concerns. In collaboration with KUSI-TV in San Diego, she produced 234 30-minutes interviews with women pioneers and survivors from around the world.

She a delegate at the Global Forum of Women (in Ireland in 1992 and Taiwan in 1993), and the NGO Forum and UN Fourth World Conference on Women (in Beijing, China in 1995). She has been a United Nations Association (UNA) delegate or IPJ delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women since 1998, and served as a UNA-San Diego delegate to the UN Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (in Durban, South Africa in 2001), the UN Special Session on Children (in New York in 2002), and the UN DPI/NGO conferences in 2002-2004.

If you would like to attend Friday’s induction ceremony or learn more about this year’s inductees, please visit

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.


Denise Ward
(619) 260-4659