Houghton College Alumnus Steven Grudda Named 2016 CCCU Young Alumni Award Winner

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Houghton College Alumnus, Steven Grudda, has been named the winner of its inaugural CCCU Young Alumni Award by the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.

Steve Grudda (left) working with crop farmers in Sierra Leone

Even more important in the context of this award, Steve represents the powerful impact for good that the graduates of his generation from all the CCCU colleges and universities are having.

Houghton College Alumnus, Steven Grudda, has been named the winner of its inaugural CCCU Young Alumni Award by the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.

Grudda, a 2010 graduate of Houghton with a degree in international relations and French, is currently an associate at Endsight Consulting, where he serves as the lead on African agribusiness. Based in Washington, D.C., Endsight Consulting is a firm that advises in the area of business development in frontier markets around the world, with a special focus on Africa. (The full text of his award nomination, which outlines his work in Africa, is available below.)

“Thank you – this is a real honor,” Grudda said. “I’m proud to be recognized among such a great group of candidates.”

“Steven Grudda’s work in sustainable development in Africa, especially in Sierra Leone, has contributed to the flourishing of many communities. It is exactly this sort of life-changing impact that led us to develop the CCCU Young Alumni Award, as we want to recognize both the influence our graduates are having in the world and the work of our campuses in providing an education that trains both the mind and heart,” said CCCU President Shirley V. Hoogstra.

“We are delighted that the CCCU will honor a Houghton alumnus, Steve Grudda, as the first recipient of the CCCU Young Alumni Award. Steve embodies all that we at Houghton hope for in our graduates: a commitment to use his God-given gifts creatively and courageously to advance God's loving, just and redemptive purposes in our world,” said Houghton College President Shirley A. Mullen. “Even more important in the context of this award, Steve represents the powerful impact for good that the graduates of his generation from all the CCCU colleges and universities are having – and will continue to have – amidst the complex and ever changing circumstances of our 21st-century world.”

The CCCU Young Alumni Award is given to individuals who have graduated within the last 10 years and have achieved uncommon leadership or success in a way that reflects the values of Christian higher education. Thousands of people cast their votes for the 30 nominees, narrowing the selection down to 12 finalists before casting the vote for the winner. Votes were weighted against the full-time enrollment (FTE) of the institution.

About Steven Grudda

Steven Grudda is currently an associate at Endsight Consulting where he serves as the lead on African agribusiness. Based in Washington, D.C. and established in 2011, Endsight Consulting is a firm that advises in the area of business development in frontier markets around the world with a special focus on Africa.

Grudda graduated from Houghton College in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and French. While at Houghton, he was highly involved on campus, assuming the roles of class president, resident assistant and co-resident director. During his time as a student, he also traveled to Sierra Leone and completed a research project on how mango farmers could be included in a business’s supply chain. The research was submitted to World Hope International (WHI).

After graduation, Grudda returned to Sierra Leone for eight months to coordinate the Mango Out-Growers Project. This project, a joint endeavor between WHI and Houghton College, aimed to connect smallholder farmers in Sierra Leone to a fruit concentrate manufacturer called Africa Felix Juice (AFJ). Sierra Leone has been striving to build the country’s economy after their civil war, which ended in 2002. Through the Mango Out-Growers Project, farmers were able to gain a source of income from mangoes, which would otherwise have gone unharvested. During this time, Grudda met former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a prominent individual in the promotion of African development, and informed him about the mango project. The project was also presented during the Accord Network’s “Developing Excellence Forum” in Baltimore in 2011.

Following his responsibilities with the Mango Out-Growers Project, Grudda became the Special Economic Zone operations manager in Sierra Leone with First Step Inc., a subsidiary of World Hope International. The purpose of Special Economic Zones is to encourage the economic growth of the country in which the zones are situated. First Step was instrumental in the formation of pineapple farm plots, which farmers could use as a source of income in addition to the mangoes, which already grew in abundance.

After holding this position with First Step for almost a year, Grudda became the Chief Operations Officer of AFJ in 2013. AFJ promotes the economy by providing jobs for the employees of the processing facility and income for the farmers who supply the mangoes and pineapples. AFJ is the first fruit concentrate manufacturer in Sierra Leone and sells the concentrate around the world.

Grudda went on to his current position after serving with AFJ for one year.

Through his career, Grudda has been able to promote the well-being of others. Communities in Sierra Leone have benefited from the work he has done in his various roles. Through the sale of mangoes and pineapples, farmers were able to purchase animals and the seeds needed to grow food, pay school fees and medical bills, better maintain wells, and save money for the future. Recently, Grudda was featured in the book "Solving Problems that Matter (and Getting Paid for It)." His vocational journey is placed alongside the profiles of 100 individuals with STEM-related educational backgrounds or skills who have used their careers to contribute to global sustainable development.

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