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Amber Koonce

Class of 2012-2013

About Amber

updated 6/2013: As a Luce Scholar, Amber Koonce serves as policy coordinator for the Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation of the Philippines. In this capacity Amber lobbies Senate and Congress members to maintain a minimum age of eighteen for incarceration, monitors the cases of children who are currently illegally incarcerated in adult prisons, and produces articles highlighting the rehabilitative progress young Filipino offenders make when they are enrolled in constructive programs. She wrote an internationally published editorial addressing the plight of incarcerated youth in the Philippines. Amber also continues to document interviews with police officers and local government leaders, highlighting ways in which Filipino communities can better support their at-risk youth. Amber graduated Highest Distinction and Phi Beta Kappa with Highest Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned a dual degree in Public Policy and Cultural Studies in 2012. During her undergraduate years, Amber organized with an elderly neighborhood against gentrification, assisted a policy professor with the creation of an electronic welfare system in North Carolina, spearheaded the creation of a policy proposal to socio-economically integrate local public schools, and completed an honors thesis illuminating the plight of black farmers in North Carolina, challenging the federal government for the ownership of their land. Amber was also appointed by Governor Purdue as the youngest board member of the North Carolina Council for Women. Her continual efforts to improveher local community earned Amber the Girl Scout’s Young Woman of DistinctionAward in 2010 and the Pearson Prize for Higher Education in 2011. Internationally,Amber’s concern for the development of young girls of color sparked her founding ofthe non-profit BeautyGap, an organization committed to providing girls with dolls that look like them. To date, BeautyGap has distributed over 200 dolls to girls in Kenya, Ghana, Haiti, and the Philippines. BeautyGap earned Amber recognition as one of thenation’s Top Ten College Women of 2011 by Glamour Magazine, the 2012 GlobalHumanitarian Award by Pfeiffer University, as well as features from HelloBeautiful, The Root, and the BET Black Girls Rock Campaign of 2012. An aspiring juvenile defense attorney, on a local and global scale, Amber has been a tireless advocate for forwarding the rights of incarcerated youth, serving juveniles in Ghana, Scotland, the United States, and now the Philippines. Ultimately, Amber focuses on pushing towards the day when all children are given the services they need to become fully recognized, contributing citizens to their societies, and to live their lives with dignity.

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