The Award for Courage and Leadership


The McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University’s Award for Courage and Leadership is presented each year to honor an individual who has stood unwaveringly for fundamental values and has inspired the world through acts of selfless courage. By recognizing this service to humankind, the McCain Institute hopes to nurture the courage in each of us to stand for what we know is right. The recipient is selected based on his or her acts of personal courage on behalf of human rights, humanitarian compassion, justice, freedom, and human dignity.

In 2015, the McCain Institute was honored to present its inaugural Award for Courage and Leadership to Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.

2016 Award for Courage and Leadership

dikembeWe are delighted that this year’s award was presented to Dikembe Mutombo, a Congolese American humanitarian.

Mutombo came to the United States as an undergraduate student at Georgetown University in Washington. At 7’2”, he was soon chosen to play basketball on the University’s team. Thereafter, Mutombo had an 18-year career in the NBA.

Mutombo never gave up his goal to improve the health conditions of the people in the DRC and he decided to build a hospital in Kinshasa, the capital of the country. To that end, he created the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in Atlanta in 1997. The Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital, named after his mother, was inaugurated in July 2007 and it opened its doors to patients in December 2007. Mutombo personally contributed more than $23 million to build and equip the hospital.

The hospital currently has close to 170 beds with an ultimate future capacity of 300 beds. It is a modern facility offering the following services: primary care, internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, OB-GYN, surgical subspecialties such as neurosurgery, orthopedics, urology and ENT. Hospital management espouses the following values: respect for the dignity of the patients, professionalism, continuous quality improvement, transparency, and accountability. Currently, the hospital is the most modern, if not the best in the country, and has treated close to 200,000 patients.