Debra, a dedicated speech therapist, has made a significant impact through her over 30 years of work with school children. Her role as a speech therapist and her volunteering for AFS are interconnected, as they both revolve around helping children reach their full potential, particularly in addressing emotional and medical needs. Debra firmly believes in promoting the value of young people and fostering an environment where differences are not merely tolerated but encouraged.

Debra’s involvement with AFS extends beyond her professional life. She has hosted over 20 students, enriching her understanding of the world and forming global connections. Debra’s contributions at the local level are numerous, including roles as a Liaison, Chapter Chair, Liaison Coordinator, Support Coordinator, and Compliance Coordinator. She represented her Area Team at the National Volunteer Summit as their delegate and chaired the Compliance Advisory Group for six years. During her tenure as the National Council Chair, Debra led a transformative overhaul, making the National Council more efficient and focused on the needs of the organization.

Notably, Debra played a pivotal role in steering AFS-USA through the challenges posed by the pandemic, contributing to the rebirth of Teams after a year without hosting students. She wrote charter documents and helped shape policies still in use today. Debra’s commitment to effective communication is evident in her professional and volunteer roles, advocating for young ambassadors to value their exchange opportunities and fostering the principles of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) in AFS-USA’s mission statement.

Debra’s advocacy extends to international conferences, where she supports educational outreach to the broader community. Her mentorship extends beyond AFS volunteer positions and into her professional life as a Speech Pathologist, where she listens to and advocates for students. Her leadership and policy-making skills have had a lasting impact, and her legacy as a humble, gracious, and dedicated leader will endure for years to come. She exemplifies the essence of a globally active citizen, leaving a profound mark on those she encounters and the AFS community as a whole.

“Debra Maly’s unwavering dedication to improving the lives of children and fostering intercultural experiences makes her a deserving recipient of the Galatti Award, recognizing her outstanding contributions to AFS.”

—Volunteer Recognition Committee, AFS USA

AFS Galatti Award

Established in 1983, the AFS Galatti Award honors AFS volunteers whose longtime commitment, dedication and exceptional journey with the organization have advanced the AFS mission and created an impact. It is awarded in honor of Stephen Galatti, who was Director General of AFS for more than 28 years (1936-1964) and who built and transformed AFS into a world-wide organization that promotes peace and global awareness through intercultural learning experiences.

In 2023, winners of the AFS Galatti Award winners were Debra Maly, AFS-USA and Kazuko Nakano, AFS Japan.