Deborah (Kling) Rooney

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‘70 German
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Deborah (Kling) Rooney

Service to Society Award

Deborah (Kling) Rooney (‘70 German) is co-founder of BEADS for Education, a nonprofit that improves the status of Kenyan women by offering business development and girls’ education programs.  Debby first fell in love with the people of the Maasi region of Kenya during a 1991 visit; two years later, she and her friend Lisa Stephens devoted their lives to empowering girls and women living in the region.

BEADS for Education first focused on selling the beadwork of the Dupoto Women’s Group to help those women send their daughters to school.  The organization then began arranging educational sponsorships for elementary school-aged girls and has since funded the education of more than 500 elementary- to college-aged girls.  Older girls supported by the program serve a one-year “internship” teaching or conducting community service projects before beginning college.  BEADS for Education opened its own secondary school, Tembea Academy, in 2013 and recently celebrated the graduation of its first class of students who attended Tembea all four years of high school.

Debby currently resides in New Jersey but spends three months each year in Kenya training teachers and administering various aspects of the organization.

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