Class XIII (2015-2016)

4. SAILA HUUSKO

Sponsor Club: Luoteis-Helsingin Rotaryklubi, Helsinki, Finland, District 1420 

Host Club Rotary Club of Logan,  Logan, AUS, District 9630 

Saila Huusko is an independent documentary filmmaker, journalist, and international conflict resolution professional. Her work has appeared online at Al Jazeera America, The Guardian, and GlobalPost – among many others. She worked for three years as the multimedia producer for Crisis Management Initiative, a conflict resolution organization founded and chaired by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Martti Ahtisaari. She has worked in several conflict and post-conflict areas, including West Africa, South Sudan, and Afghanistan. Her work, covering a range of themes from gender-based violence to the art of peace mediation, was screened at the European Parliament and the United Nations, and was distributed throughout the African Union. 

Saila holds a BA magna cum laude with honors in Political Science from Middlebury College, where she also was a Davis UWC Scholar. She spent a semester studying Conflict Resolution in Washington D.C. and a semester in Santiago, Chile. She recently earned a Master of Science in Journalism with honors from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Born and raised in Finland, she is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation Journalism Fellowship, the Joan Konner Scholarship in Broadcast Journalism, and the Judy F. Crichton/duPont Award for best documentary in her graduating class at Columbia. She completed high school at the Mahindra United World College (UWC) of India as a scholar of the Finnish Cultural Foundation. Later, she volunteered to help start a UWC in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The experience had a profound impact on her. When the school opened in 2006, it was the first time in over a decade that young people from the different ethnic groups in Mostar shared a classroom. 

Saila is currently co-directing her first feature-length documentary, which tells the story of a gay and Mormon professor who runs to become the president of the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American tribe in the United States. The documentary is slated for release at film festivals and a national broadcast in the United States within the next two years. Saila is interested in real-life stories that highlight underdogs and those fighting for positive change.