Teresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation Honor the Spirit of Hope, the Power of Innovation with 19th Heinz Awards

Five Inspiring Americans to Share $1.25 Million in Awards

Feb 25, 2014, 08:30 ET from Heinz Family Foundation

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Heinz Awards, established by Teresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation to honor the memory of the late U.S. Senator John Heinz, today celebrated the enduring spirit of hope and the power of innovation by announcing the 19th winners of the nationally acclaimed accolades. 

The Heinz Awards recognizes five remarkable recipients who have made significant contributions in five distinct categories: Arts and Humanities; Environment; Human Condition; Public Policy; and Technology, the Economy and Employment. 

This year's winners feature a doctor who has revolutionized community health care using video conferencing technology, a social entrepreneur who is empowering people to lift themselves out of poverty, a physician whose best-selling books and clinical writings reveal the concept of true healing, an environmental scientist who seeks sustainable solutions to the world's food supply and an innovative educator who is changing the way students of all ages learn using online technology. 

"This year's Heinz Awards recipients show that the antidote for the uncertainties and fears of our times lies where it always has – in the imagination, determination, brilliance and creativity of the people among us who see possibility where others see only barriers. The recipients are an extraordinary group of individuals who are changing our world for the better, but that is not what makes them so inspiring for the rest of us. The secret to their special alchemy is available to any of us if we, too, are willing to challenge the status quo, to be passionate in the pursuit of bettering the world we live in and to apply whatever strengths we have to the hard work of transformation," said Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation.  "I am proud to name these exceptional individuals as the recipients of the 19th annual Heinz Awards because of the hope that their work and their example bring."

This year's recipients by category are:

  • Arts and Humanities:  Abraham Verghese, M.D., of Stanford, Calif. Dr. Verghese is being recognized for his work as a critically acclaimed best-selling author. His poignant stories – both fiction and non-fiction – document his belief and practice that healing must go beyond cures, diagnostic tests and technological advancements and must also address the sense of profound vulnerability that patients feel when they are facing a major health crisis. Eloquent as a writer and compassionate as a physician, Dr. Verghese brings a unique perspective to healing as an art in an era when the scientific details of medicine often overshadow the patient. His first novel, Cutting for Stone, combines his passion for medicine and his gift as a writer and was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than two years. My Own Country, his memoir about treating patients with AIDS in rural Tennessee, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was made into a film. Dr. Verghese is currently serving as the Linda R. Meier and Joan F. Lane Provostial Professor and Vice Chair for the Theory and Practice of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University.
  • Environment:  Jonathan Foley, Ph.D., of St. Paul, Minn. Dr. Foley is the director of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota, where he is also a professor and McKnight Presidential Chair of Global Environment and Sustainability. The Heinz Awards recognizes Dr. Foley for his pivotal research on global environmental systems, including the environmental impact of agriculture as the world seeks to feed an ever-growing population. In response to the looming challenge of feeding the nine billion-plus people anticipated by 2050, Dr. Foley worked with colleagues across the globe to create a five-point plan to double the world's food production, primarily by focusing on improving agricultural efficiency, reducing waste and shifting diets. Additionally, by developing some of the world's first sophisticated computer models of global ecosystems and their relationship to climate, land use and water resources, Dr. Foley and his students have helped to enable scientists to visualize the world's changing environment. He also directs the Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI), which aims to build broad coalitions between environmental groups, think tanks, philanthropic foundations, businesses and scientists to address the linked challenges of global food security and environmental sustainability.
  • Human Condition:  Salman Khan, of Mountain View, Calif. The Heinz Awards recognizes Mr. Khan for his highly acclaimed Khan Academy, a nonprofit educational organization that has revolutionized how millions of children and students of all ages across the globe are learning subjects as diverse as mathematics, biology, economics, art history and astronomy. Mr. Khan founded the academy that bears his name in 2008 after producing and hosting videos and software designed to break down key math concepts so that they would be more understandable to students who had encountered challenges. Khan Academy has retained its initial, accessible blackboard style and is now one of the most frequently used online education and learning tools in the world, providing free tutorials, educational videos and real-time performance tracking analytics for students and teachers. Khan Academy is based on the ideal of "mastery learning," which enables each student to master a skill at his or her own pace before moving on to the next level. Khan Academy's website now hosts more than 5,000 instructional videos and interactive lessons that are used by site visitors from almost every nation.  Materials from Khan Academy have been translated into more than 25 languages. 
  • Public Policy:  Sanjeev Arora, M.D., of Albuquerque, N.M. Dr. Arora is a liver disease specialist at the University of New Mexico. He is receiving the award for creating and expanding Project ECHO, or Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes, a growing national and global model that exponentially increases access to high-quality care by expanding workforce capacity and use of evidence-based medicine. Using widely available video conferencing technology and case-based learning, Project ECHO expands the capacities of primary care clinicians to manage serious, chronic, complex conditions they were not trained to manage in school, including Hepatitis C, HIV, chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis and psychiatric disorders.  Project ECHO's footprint has expanded from its origins in New Mexico to more than a dozen states, including Illinois, Nevada, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington, as well as to India and Uruguay. With 29 hubs in the United States and four more globally, Project ECHO is also working directly with the U.S. departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and also with the Department of Health and Human Services through a demonstration project supported by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation.  
  • Technology, the Economy and Employment:  Leila Janah, of San Francisco, Calif. Ms. Janah is a social entrepreneur with a passion for empowering the impoverished to improve their lives. Ms. Janah, one of the youngest people to be recognized by the Heinz Awards, is being honored for founding the nonprofit Samasource, and more recently, SamaUSA, which use the power of technology and the global reach of the Internet to train people in some of the poorest regions of the world. Samasource provides "microwork" opportunities, which are small, computer-based tasks such as data entry, photo tagging, content management translation and transcription. Companies who contract with Samasource for a project must commit to hiring women, youth and refugees. Since 2008, the organization has grown to provide training and employment opportunities to nearly 5,000 people and has lifted as many as 20,000 people out of poverty. Ms. Janah has now extended the concept with a similar program called SamaUSA, which is aimed at low-income digital workers at community colleges in the United States. 

Recipients will officially receive their awards at a ceremony in Pittsburgh, Pa., on April 3, 2014.  In addition to the monetary award of $250,000, each recipient will receive a medallion inscribed with the image of Senator Heinz on one side and a rendering of a globe passing between two hands on the other.

About the Heinz Awards
Established by Teresa Heinz in 1993 to honor the memory of her late husband, U.S. Senator John Heinz, the Heinz Awards celebrates the accomplishments and spirit of the Senator by recognizing the extraordinary achievements of individuals in the areas of greatest importance to him. The awards, administered by the Heinz Family Foundation, recognize individuals for their contributions in the areas of Arts and Humanities; Environment; Human Condition; Public Policy; and Technology, the Economy and Employment. Nominations are submitted by invited experts, who serve anonymously, and are reviewed by jurors appointed by the Heinz Family Foundation. The jurors make recommendations to the Board of Directors, which subsequently selects the Award recipients. For more information on the Heinz Awards, visit www.heinzawards.net.

Contacts: Jeff Donaldson
Kim O'Dell

SOURCE Heinz Family Foundation