Nebraska Society of Washington honors philanthropist Natalie Hahn

November 15, 2018

WASHINGTON — Natalie Hahn’s career in international development spanned most of four decades and took her to New York, Rome and many parts of Africa.

And it was all rooted in her Nebraska farm childhood.

The Nebraska Society of Washington, D.C., honored Hahn on Wednesday night with its annual Distinguished Nebraskan Award.

Past Distinguished Nebraskan Award recipients have included politicians, business leaders and entertainers from the state.

A native of Polk, Nebraska, Hahn, 73, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska before going on to earn advanced degrees, including a Harvard doctorate.

She guided a range of projects through United Nations programs, particularly in Africa, over the years. She was especially focused on agricultural development efforts and traced her interest in that work to her days as a youngster in 4-H.

And then, after returning from one of her assignments in Africa, she faced a question from her mother: “Honey, I love what you’re doing for the women in Africa, but what are you doing for Nebraska?”

That helped prompt Hahn, who now lives in Central City, Nebraska, to start the Malaika Foundation with the mission to introduce global issues and better understanding of other cultures into Nebraska’s schools.

Hahn spoke at Wednesday night’s award presentation about the thousands of teachers trained through the foundation and the dozens of teachers it has helped send abroad.

“Once a teacher comes back when they’ve been abroad they see their classroom and their students very, very differently,” Hahn said.

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