Amber M. Koonce
2012-2013 Luce Scholar
Humanitarian Legal Assistance Foundation in Manila, The Philippines
Amber Koonce, from Charlotte, North Carolina, was called to serve as an activist at an early age. Upon matriculating to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), her commitment to amplifying the voices of marginalized groups within structures of power led her to pursue a B.A. in Public Policy and Cultural studies, with a Minor in Entrepreneurship. While at UNC, Amber has advocated for a minority and elderly neighborhood against gentrification, assisted a policy professor with the creation of an electronic welfare system in NC, and spearheaded the creation of a policy proposal to socioeconomically integrate local schools. Currently, Amber is the youngest individual appointed by the Governor to serve as a board member for the NC Council for Women. In this capacity, she works to project the consequences proposed legislations will have on the status of women throughout the state. These involvements earned Amber the Girl Scout's Young Woman of Distinction Award in 2010 and the Pearson Prize for Higher Education in 2011. Amber's most rewarding role has been as a mentor for incarcerated youth. For three years, Amber has led a student group to regularly work with incarcerated juveniles in Durham, North Carolina. Her concern for the plight of these youth prompted her to work within international juvenile detention centers located in Ghana and Scotland. Amber is also the founder and Executive Director of BeautyGap, a non-profit organization that distributes dolls of color to girls of color, internationally. BeautyGap earned her recognition as "The Social Entrepreneur" in Glamour Magazine's 2011 Top Ten College Women list, and also as one of the nation's "Top 25 Young Futurists" by The Root. An aspiring juvenile attorney, Amber aims to gain more knowledge of Asian juvenile rights and continue to raise global awareness of their needs.