While studying political science at the University of Colorado in the mid-1980s, Ken Rutherford decided to work in international development. Since graduating in 1985, he has worked in Bosnia for the Department of Defense and Department of State, and in Africa for the Peace Corps (Mauritania), United Nations High Commission for Refugees (Senegal) and International Rescue Committee (Kenya and Somalia).
After losing his legs to a landmine in Somalia in 1993, he has traveled worldwide to speak out to promote awareness of the mass suffering caused by these weapons. Rutherford has testified before Congress and published articles on the landmine issue in academic and policy journals. Rutherford was awarded the 1999 Leadership in International Rehabilitation Award presented by the Northwestern University Institute for International Rehabilitation and is co-founder of the Landmine Survivors Network, which serves on the coordinating committee of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.
As an advocate for people with disabilities affected by landmines, he has appeared on Dateline, Nightline and National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. His personal story of recovering from his accident to pursue his dreams of marrying his fiancé, having children and becoming a professor have been profiled by Oprah Winfrey, Reader’s Digest and the BBC.
Since being injured in Somalia, he married CU graduate Kim Schwers and received his doctorate in government from Georgetown University. He currently helps raise their four children as Bronco fans and teaches international relations at Southwest Missouri State University.