Every year, the World Youth Alliance recognizes outstanding contributors to the WYA mission through the Mary R. Smith Award. Established in 2013, the Mary R. Smith Award was named after one of the earliest and important supporters of the WYA mission. The organization honors her legacy by presenting this award to individuals who have been identified for their distinguished service in supporting WYA’s beliefs and works.
WYA is proud to have Vincenzina “Vinnie” Santoro as this year’s Mary R. Smith Awardee. Vinnie began her career as an international economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and then worked as a Vice President and economist of JP Morgan and Co. for 27 years before stepping down. Aside from being an economic consultant to various foreign trade and investment entities and writing about international economic and social issues for a number of publications, Vinnie currently represents the American Family Association of New York at the United Nations.
“I work with WYA at the United Nations where we support one another. At the UN, I have been collaborating with the WYA advocacy representatives on major issues for several years,” shares Vinnie when asked about her encounters with the organization. “WYA is special. It has a universal reach and attracts so many young people from countries around the world who dedicate their time, talent, and energy for a few years at the start of their professional lives to enhance the organization, carry out its tenets, and gain a holistic experience.”
Vinnie also comments how some of WYA programs like FEMM greatly benefit their mission to adhere to the spirit of the UN’s charter. “Given the tremendous emphasis on sexual and reproductive health, services and rights, the creation of FEMM presents a comprehensive and clear strategy to bring back the global discourse at the UN on a life-affirming path.” She also acknowledges the role of WYA’s internship and training programs in shaping the lives of future leaders. “As they (WYA alumni) leave the organization, they take with them a firm grounding in morality, human dignity, and practical advocacy experience. WYA forms alumni to make significant contributions to the world at large. WYA is an example of globalization at its best.”
Truly, Vinnie’s professional contribution to WYA’s cause is a real testament of generosity and solidarity in action. As we present the Mary R. Smith Award at the WYA Dinner this October 10, Vinnie warmly sends her only advice to WYA members of the past, present, and future: “Abide by what Anna Halpine has taught you!”