Past Award Recipients

Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof

2016 – Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn have written several bestselling books, including their most recent book A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity. The book provides research-based solutions to issues facing women and girls worldwide. Kristof and WuDunn are also the founders of the Half the Sky Movement, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about the challenges facing women and girls. The Half the Sky Movement uses interactive elements of social media and partners with nonprofits such as TOSTAN, Women for Women International, Grameen Foundation, and others.

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Shigeru Ban

2015 – Shigeru Ban

Shigeru Ban has spent years volunteering and designing disaster relief shelters to give millions a place to call home. The founder and head of the non-profit Voluntary Architects’ Network (VAN), Mr. Ban has been named one the of the 21st century innovators in the field of architecture and design by TIME magazine and was the 2014 Pritzker laureate winner. Most recently, Ban has been selected as the “Le Grande de Commandeur” (The Grand Commander) in L’Ordre des Arts et des Letteres (Order of the Arts and Letters), to recognize his significant contributions to the arts.

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2014 – Nathan Wolfe

Dr. Nathan Wolfe’s work as a pioneering epidemiologist—researching the transmission of deadly viruses similar to HIV or SARS—could prevent such threats from emerging as the next pandemic. Wolfe has spent years tracking viral hot spots in the jungles of Africa and Southeast Asia and building a disease forecasting system to protect the lives of millions. The 43-year old scientist, named to TIME’s list of most influential people in 2011 and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2011, and is the author of The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic.

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2013 – Salman Khan

Salman Khan has made basic learning skills possible for people across the globe who have been denied access to an education. By providing free and open access to teaching and resources, both teachers and students are benefiting in places where the most basic prerequisites for education are missing. Through his leadership, passion, and vision for a world-class education, Khan has incorporated digital technology to revolutionize learning. The Khan Academy provides online lessons and resources free to anyone across the globe.

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2012 – Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. Under her leadership, CDF has become the nation’s strongest voice for children and families. The Children’s Defense Fund’s Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

2011 – Zainab Salbi

Zainab Salbi founded Women for Women International in 1993, a global grassroots women’s organization that provides women survivors of war and other conflicts with the tools and resources they need to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency. Since inception, Women for Women International has served more than 271,000 women worldwide, providing them with access to social and economic opportunities through a year-long training program in rights awareness, vocational and technical skills development, and income generation assistance.

2010 – Muhammad Yunus

Dr. Muhammad Yunus pioneered microcredit and founded Grameen Bank in Bangladesh as part of an effort to create a world without poverty. He is the author of Banker to the Poor, A World Without Poverty, and Building Social Business. He was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize and the 2009 U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom.

2009 – Greg Mortenson

Greg Mortenson has dedicated his life to promote community-based education and literacy programs, especially for girls, in remote mountain regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is the co-founder and executive director of nonprofit Central Asia Institute and founded Pennies for Peace. He is the author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools.

2008 – Geoffrey Canada

Geoffrey Canada founded the Harlem Children’s Zone, which aims to revitalize one of New York City’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. His determination to revitalize Harlem one block at a time has earned him numerous accolades, including the McGraw Prize for Education, the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the Robin Hood Foundation’s Heroes of the Year Award, Child magazine’s “Children’s Champion” award, the Spirit of the City Award from the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, Bowdoin College’s Common Good Award, and New York University’s Brennan Legacy Award.

2007 – Paul Farmer

Paul Farmer, M.D. Ph.D., challenges the idea that quality health care is impossible in resource poor settings. His charity, Partners In Health, provides direct health care services and undertakes research and advocacy for those who are sick and living in poverty. Farmer has pioneered novel, community-based treatment strategies for AIDS and tuberculosis, including multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. In 1993, he was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Genius Award in recognition of his work. Farmer also is the subject of Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World.

2006 – Wendy Kopp

Wendy Kopp, president and founder of Teach For America, was the first Posey Leadership Award recipient. Teach For America is a national corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity. Since 1996, 21 Austin College alumni have joined Teach For America.