The World Food Prize Foundation

2018 Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Humanitarian Award Honors Those Who Led the Campaign Saving Thousands of Victims of the Cambodian Genocide


The World Food Prize announced today that it will honor 14 individuals and organizations with the 2018 Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Humanitarian Award. The award will be given to those who, following the late Iowa Governor Robert D. Ray’s inspired humanitarian leadership, made Iowa SHARES into a statewide campaign that delivered lifesaving food, medicine and volunteer doctors and nurses to the Cambodian border of Thailand where thousands of victims of the Khmer Rouge Genocide had escaped. Today would have been Governor Ray’s 90th birthday. 

“I was with Governor and Mrs. Ray in that refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodia border in October 1979 where we saw the worst human suffering any of us had ever witnessed,” said Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation. “Thirty thousand emaciated victims of the Cambodian Genocide were strewn across an open field, many too weak to move or help themselves. They were dying at the rate of 50 to 100 a day. The descriptions and images Governor Ray brought back to Iowa sent an electric current across the state which galvanized thousands of Iowans to come together to provide lifesaving assistance. This unusual number of recipients of the Robert D. Ray award reflects the many individuals and institutions that played a key role in one of the greatest humanitarian endeavors the state of Iowa has ever undertaken.” 

The Iowa SHARES campaign, led by Governor Ray, brought Iowans together across all political, religious and cultural differences to rush lifesaving food, medicine and volunteer doctors and nurses to the Cambodian border in Thailand, where thousands of victims of the Pol Pot Khmer Rouge Genocide were suffering and dying in unimaginable circumstances. Over a two-year period, approximately $550,000 was raised from small contributions from thousands of Iowans across the state, which would be the equivalent of approximately $2 million in 2018. 

The announcement was made today at the Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Hall of Laureates by Ambassador Quinn. Michael Gartner and Scott Raecker also spoke at the press conference. 

“Iowa SHARES should have been named Iowa Receives,” said Gartner, then editor of the Des Moines Register.  “While the state of Iowa and its people compassionately shared almost everything they had — their time, their houses, their money, their families — they received much more in return. The people brought to this land by Governor Robert Ray and Ken Quinn have forever enriched this state and the lives of all of us who live here. Iowa SHARES was a wonderful program — for all of us.”

Three traditionally separated elements in our society - government, religion and the press - were drawn together through the Iowa SHARES campaign. Upon his return, the Governor shared deeply affecting photographs with reporters, who incorporated the photos into news articles. These stories led to editorials, public television documentaries and news stories across the state. An interfaith coalition of religious leaders endorsed the campaign and urged Iowans to unite in the efforts to aid the refugees.

Leaders of both political parties joined with the Governor in creating a non-profit organization that inaugurated the SHARES campaign a day before Thanksgiving.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 1979, the campaign raised over $125,000 and rushed food and medicine during the week of Christmas to 30,000 refugees in two separate camps. In addition to sending lifesaving food and medicine, Iowa sent volunteer doctors and nurses to provide medical care in the refugee camps. Iowa SHARES continued to raise money over the next two years that supported Iowa doctors and nurses serving in hospitals at the border. 

  1. Nichola Schissel, then member of Governor Ray’s staff and co-director of Iowa SHARES
  2. Michael Gartner, then president and editor of the Des Moines Register and Tribune
  3. Rabbi Jay Goldberg from the Temple B‘Nai Jeshurun
    • Accepting the award on his behalf is Rabbi David Kaufman
  4. Diocese of Des Moines - Bishop Maurice Dingman
    • Accepting the award on behalf of Bishop Dingman, Bishop Richard Pates
  5. Reverend Frederick Strickland, Corinthian Baptist Church
  6. The Des Moines Register & Tribune - Editor Michael Gartner, Gil Cranberg (editorial page editor), reporters William Simbro and David Yepsen 
    • Accepting the award on behalf of the Register and Tribune, Carol Hunter, Executive Editor of the Des Moines Register
  7. Roxanne Conlin, then United States Attorney and member of the Iowa SHARES board 
  8. Sheldon Rabinowitz, treasurer for Iowa SHARES Campaign 
  9. Davis Brown Law Firm -  A. Arthur Davis and Bruce Campbell
    • Accepting the award on behalf of all is Gene La Suer, Davis Brown Law Firm
  10. Iowa Public Television - Mary Jane Odell (host of “What You Need to Know About Cambodia”) and Dan Miller (program director) 
    • Accepting the award on behalf of the organization and Ms. O’Dell -  Susan Ramsey Director of Communications for IPTV
    • Accepting the award on behalf of the late Dan Miller, his wife Diane Graham
  11. Rick Morain, then editor of the Jefferson Bee
  12. Sister Carolyn Farrell, then Mayor of Dubuque and regional advocate for Iowa SHARES
  13. Catholic Relief Services and Monsignor Robert Charlebois
    • Receiving the award on the organization’s behalf, Teresa Dunbar, Catholic Relief Services Des Moines 
    • Receiving the award on Msgr. Charlebois’ behalf, Jim DeHarpporte, regional director of Catholic Relief Services CRS West
  14. The late Dr. Rosenfeld, representing the more than 10 Iowa medical professionals who volunteered to serve in Cambodian camps through Iowa SHARES. 

BACKGROUND: The World Food Prize Foundation established the Robert D. Ray Iowa SHARES Humanitarian Award in 2013 in recognition of the exceptional leadership that former Governor Ray demonstrated in dealing with multiple situations affecting refugees in Indochina, and to honor him on his birthday (September 26). In doing so, the award was named after the Iowa SHARES campaign, which the Governor created in 1979 in order to send desperately needed food and medicine to suffering and dying refugees from Cambodia. Iowa SHARES stands for Iowa Sends Help to Aid Refugees and End Starvation. Previous recipients listed at

ABOUT THE WORLD FOOD PRIZE:  The World Food Prize is the foremost international award recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The Prize was founded in 1986 by Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, the World Food Prize has honored 48 outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions throughout the world. The World Food Prize annually hosts the Borlaug Dialogue international symposium and a variety of youth education programs to help further the discussion on cutting-edge global food security issues and inspire the next generation to end hunger. Press credentials for covering the October World Food Prize Week of events can be requested at

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