2011 Alumni Award Winner, Robin Smalley, J77

Carolyn Kroll, AG66, J92P, M99P, Awards Committee Chair; Barbara Clarke, J88, TUAA President; and Smalley at the 2011 Alumni Awards Dinner

Smalley giving her acceptance speech


Robin Smalley, J77, uprooted her family and moved to Cape Town, South Africa, in 2004 to take the reigns of a tiny, grassroots organization, mothers2mothers (m2m), an NGO that helps to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. As its first executive director, in one year Ms. Smalley grew the program from nine sites in Cape Town to 72 sites throughout South Africa, with affiliated programs in Ethiopia and Botswana. Following her return to the U.S. as m2m’s co-founder/international director, Ms. Smalley continued to guide m2m in its strategic planning as well as developing its partnership, government, and funding relationships. During her tenure, the organizational annual budget has grown to an annual income of $20 million with m2m operating at more than 700 sites in nine sub-Saharan African countries, employing nearly 1,800 HIV-positive women, and reaching one in five of all HIV-positive pregnant women in the world. She and mothers2mothers have been honored by First Lady Laura Bush, and Ms. Smalley has spoken at Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women Conference, the Women Deliver Conference, the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, and she has moderated a bipartisan briefing hosted by Senators Joe Biden and Dick Lugar in the U.S. Senate. Recognitions include the Ambassadors of Caring Award, the 2008 Skoll Entrepreneurial Award, the 2009 Schwab Entrepreneurial Award, a 2009 Ashoka Fellowship, and the Global Health Council’s 2010 Best Practices Award. Prior to mothers2mothers, Ms. Smalley enjoyed a successful career as an Emmy Award–winning television producer/director and transitioned into the non-profit world as executive director of the Media Project, working with television writers and directors in the area of adolescent sexuality and reproductive health. Her contributions at the Media Project were recognized with a Telly Award, Cindy Award, a National Health Information Award, a National Council on Family Relations Award, and a Society for Adolescent Medicine Award. Ms. Smalley is a member of both the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters.

Tufts University Alumni Association Citation

"Robin, your unique and uplifting story embodies a commitment to active citizenship which is at the heart of Tufts.

"Upon graduation you entered the field of television production, aspiring to make a difference and to promote social change. You spent 15 years as an innovative and successful producer and director, credits including “Hour Magazine,” “The Home Show,” “Jones & Jury,” “Public People, Private Lives,” “George & Alana,” “Leeza,” “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous,” “Entertainment Tonight,” and the Emmy Award-winning “Woman to Woman.”

"You have merged your professional success with an unwavering commitment to active citizenship and public service, serving on the Board of Directors of Streetlights, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing job training and placement in the entertainment industry for at-risk youth. As Executive Director of The Media Project, you worked with television writers and producers on adolescent sexuality and reproductive health education, promoting the SHINE Sexual Health in Entertainment Awards, overseeing the implementation of Viacom’s KNOW/AIDS campaign and working with the major networks and studios to provide accurate and honest information on topics such as contraception, teen pregnancy, sexual abuse and assault, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS, and healthy parent/child communication.

"After the tragic loss of your classmate and dear friend, Karen Besser, J78, in 2004, you partnered with her brother, Mitch, to create mothers2mothers: an organization that has worked to fight mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS throughout Africa. With hundreds of sites now in South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi, and beyond, mothers2mothers educates and inspires women throughout Africa, while also serving as a global model to promote AIDS prevention.

"Your recognition at the TIME Health Summit, Fortune Magazine’s Most Powerful Women Conference, White House Conference on Literacy, and Clinton Conference on HIV/AIDS, as well as your receipt of the 2006 Ambassadors of Caring Award, and South Africa’s prestigious Impumelelo Award, are all a testament to your impact.

"The Alumni Association is honored to present you with the Active Citizenship and Public Service Award in recognition of the deeply inspiring role you have served, bringing to life the values of Tufts, while serving as a model for future leaders.


Photos by Matt Moodono

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