Award-winning film producer, activist and humanitarian Abigail Disney will be recognized Thursday, January 28 by Lawrence University with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.
As part of the degree-granting ceremony in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, Disney will deliver the convocation “Peace is Loud,” an address based on her award-winning 2008 documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” which examines Liberia’s civil war.
A screening of “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” will be held in the Warch Campus Center cinema at 1 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer session with Disney at 2 p.m. All events are free and open to the public.
Disney’s film chronicles the inspirational story of the courageous women of Liberia, whose efforts played a critical role in bringing an end to a long and bloody civil war and eventually led to the 2005 election of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as Liberia’s president, Africa’s first democratically elected female head of state.
Disney served as the producer of “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” which has earned critical praise and collected more than 15 awards, including the Best Documentary Award at New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival, the Cowboy Award Winner – Audience Choice Award at the Jackson Hole Film Festival, the Social Justice Award for Documentary Film at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and the Golden Butterfly Award at the Movies that Matter Festival.
She founded and serves as president of the New York City-based Daphne Foundation, which supports grassroots and emerging organizations that deal with the causes and consequences of poverty, focusing on the creation and implementation of long-term solutions to intractable social problems.
The grandniece of Walt Disney, founder of the Disney media and entertainment empire, she also has played a leadership role in a number of other social and political organizations, among them the New York Women’s Foundation, from which she recently retired as chair, the Roy Disney Family Foundation, the White House Project, the Global Fund for Women, the Fund for the City of New York and the Ms. Foundation for Women.
Disney earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, a master’s degree from Stanford University, and her Ph.D. from Columbia University.