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From Atlanta to Abu Dhabi: 100 dinners to celebrate 100 years

Alumni volunteers carry the popular Bloomberg Centennial 100 Dinners program around the world
Posted June 14, 2016
Tolbert Nyenswah, MPH '12 (third from left) gathered alumni on a Monrovia, Liberia, beach to celebrate the Bloomberg School in January. Tolbert Nyenswah, MPH '12 (third from left) gathered alumni on a Monrovia, Liberia, beach to celebrate the Bloomberg School in January.

Tolbert Nyenswah, MPH '12 stood out in the crowd just a bit. He wore a shirt and tie while his compatriots, all Hopkins alumni, sported an array of shorts and flip-flops as they gathered for a group photo on a beach in Monrovia, Liberia. Nyenswah, the nation's deputy minister of health for disease surveillance and epidemic control, is virtually always on call — but he's never too busy to make time for the Bloomberg School of Public Health. That's why, in January, he volunteered to help host one of the school's Centennial 100 Dinners, a worldwide celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Bloomberg School, at a restaurant near that beach.

"Hopkins is a very high priority for me," said Nyenswah, who received the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association's 2015 Outstanding Recent Graduate Award for his exceptional efforts to bring Liberia's Ebola epidemic under control. Counsel and support from his Hopkins mentors and fellow alumni played a major role in his success during one of his biggest professional challenges, he says.

"What makes this school so great is that we have people — alumni — hard at work, all over the world, saving lives, especially here in West Africa. As an alumnus, I want to contribute and give back."

The school's Office of Constituent Relations oversaw the Centennial 100 Dinners program and provided organizers with resources such as invitation templates, menu ideas, and party games (Cards FOR Humanity, anyone?) But the office relied heavily on dozens of alumni and other volunteers to step forward as hosts. When they launched the program in July 2015, says Director of Constituent Relations Jimmie Lou DeBakey, the goal of having volunteers organize the 100 dinners in one year seemed far-fetched. But the response was overwhelming; by the end of 2015, they'd surpassed the century mark. As of mid-April 2016, more than 130 dinners had been hosted or planned.

"We've had events on six continents, and we're holding out for Antarctica next year," DeBakey says. "That's all a testament to our alumni volunteers. These events have helped us connect communities of our alumni and begin building an engaged global network."

Learn more about the Centennial 100 Dinners in Brennan Jensen's article in Johns Hopkins Magazine and see photos from several events from around the world on the Bloomberg School's website.