Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Foundation Awards Good Work by Citizens

C. Coimbra photo


By Joyce Gannon / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Among the winners of the 21st Heinz Awards is a celebrated trombone player with a mission to pass along the musical traditions of New Orleans to the next generation.

Another, an environmentalist who has designed solar homes and built his own electric car, believes global climate problems can be solved through improved public policies for energy efficiency.

The others include a pediatrician who wants to reduce disease-causing stress factors in children; a civil rights attorney who authored an acclaimed book on the problems of mass incarceration of African-American males; and an entrepreneur who launched a free publishing website used by millions of writers, artists, and businesses including media giants Time and CNN.

The five are this year’s recipients of the awards presented by the Heinz Family Foundation to recognize individuals who use innovative and inspiring ideas to address global social issues.

Each winner will receive a cash award of $250,000.

The awards were created by philanthropist Teresa Heinz Kerry to honor the memory of her late husband, U.S. Sen. H. John Heinz III, who died in a plane crash in 1991.

Mrs. Heinz Kerry is the chairwoman of the Heinz Family Foundation and the Heinz Endowments, both based Downtown.

Individuals are selected in five categories: arts and humanities; environment; human condition; public policy; and technology, the economy and employment.

This year’s winners are:

• Arts and Humanities: Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, New Orleans. The composer and performer founded the Trombone Shorty Foundation to provide instruments and instruction to underserved youth and students in New Orleans.

• Environment: Hal Harvey, San Francisco. The founder of the ClimateWorks Foundation and International Council for Clean Transportation is also the chief executive of Energy Innovation, an environmental and energy policy firm. He promotes a strategy of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from cars, trucks, buildings, utilities and industry to make the most significant impact in solving climate change issues.

• Human Condition: Nadine Burke Harris, San Francisco. She is a pediatrician who founded a youth wellness center to test and treat children for stress factors such as poverty, abuse and neglect that contribute to chronic conditions including asthma, heart disease, obesity and cancer.

• Public Policy: Michelle Alexander, Columbus, Ohio. Ms. Alexander is a civil rights attorney and author of the 2010 book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” An associate professor of law at Ohio State University, her research and advocacy focuses on reform of mass imprisonment of African-American males.

• Technology, the Economy and Employment: Matthew Mullenweg, Houston, Texas. Mr. Mullenweg is a co-founder of WordPress, an online publishing site for blogs, websites and business sites that is free of charge to users.

In a statement, Mrs. Heinz Kerry described the winners as “leaders, truth-tellers, barrier-breakers, givers of hope and givers of help.”

“They have taken their innate talents and abilities, harnessed the opportunities they have been given to achieve and excel and directed their focus to ideas and actions that are making a lasting impact on our communities and our world.”

The awards will be presented Oct. 4 at a private ceremony in Pittsburgh.

Joyce Gannon: jgannon@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1580.

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