Lynn Cole, Executive Director of RISE International, Works to Provide Access to Education in Angola — Making Her the 2022 Red Cross Global Citizenship Hero, Sponsored by United Airlines

Executive Director of RISE International, Lynn Cole, is the 2022 Red Cross Global Citizenship Hero Award recipient. During a 1998 trip to Angola with her husband, Andrew, the Coles witnessed the devastating effect of 27 years of civil war in the country and were moved to help. They learned that the after-effects of the civil war in Angola had prevented many children from access to basic education. Believing every child has a right to education, in 2003, the Coles built their first school in Angola, and committed to building five more. The Coles founded RISE International, an organization dedicated to building primary schools in rural Angola to educate children, empower communities and contribute to the rebuilding of the country.

Lynn Cole, Executive Director of RISE International


In 2004, Andrew died unexpectedly, and Lynn decided to continue to carry out and expand their mission. Today, Lynn leads RISE International and the organization has built 192 schools and helped more than 138,000 children in Angola receive an education. In Angola, the organization works in partnership with local leaders and provides children with a safe place to learn. In the process of building schools, jobs are created, including construction workers, teachers, principals and more. Lynn is now leading a project along with a team in Angola to build a 10-classroom school in an area where 1,000 children have no access to education.


The American Red Cross of Illinois celebrates the everyday heroes in our communities and honors their acts of great bravery, dedication and service through their annual Heroes Breakfast event. The event also serves as a way for the organization to highlight partnerships with corporations like United Airlines that make the lifesaving mission possible.


As the sponsor of the 2022 Global Citizenship Award, United Airlines makes it possible for the Red Cross to be prepared to respond to more than 60,000 disasters nationwide. Dawn Segura, Manager of Humanitarian Response for United, says they are “proud to support the American Red Cross and the Chicago Heroes Breakfast to honor local heroes who carry out the mission of the Red Cross and strengthen the needs of the communities in Chicago during times of need.”

Red Cross Heroes Breakfast
Local Heroes honored at annual Red Cross Heroes Breakfast — Lynn Cole and Red Cross CEO Celena Roldán (far right, standing)


To learn more about the 2022 Red Cross Heroes or nominate a Hero in your life, visit the Better’s previous content on the Red Cross.

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