For Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community
The V.P. and Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to be honored at the 2018 National Book Awards for his expansive work connecting literature and science
This is the fourteenth year the National Book Foundation has presented its Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, which is given to an individual for a lifetime of achievement in expanding the audience for books and reading.
The National Book Foundation announced Doron Weber, Vice President, Programs and Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, as the recipient of its 2018 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. For over two decades at Sloan, Weber has run the program for the Public Understanding of Science, Technology & Economics, which has provided tens of millions of dollars in grant money to a wide range of organizations and individuals, and through which Weber has helped commission, produce, and distribute media that connect the public with science in accessible and illuminating ways. The Literarian Award will be presented to Weber by Margot Lee Shetterly, author of the book Hidden Figures, which was supported by funding from Weber’s program at the Sloan Foundation, and also the source material for the Oscar-nominated film of the same name.
Under Weber’s leadership, this program has helped ensure the publication of numerous groundbreaking and acclaimed books such as Hedy’s Folly by National Book Award Winner Richard Rhodes, Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures, Dava Sobel’s Galileo’s Daughter, Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin’s American Prometheus, Jared Diamond’s Collapse, Stuart Firestein’s Ignorance, and Eric Kandel’s In Search of Memory.
Weber will receive the Literarian Award at the 69th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on November 14, 2018 in New York City. This is the fourteenth year that the Foundation has presented the Literarian Award, which is given to an individual or organization for a lifetime of achievement in expanding the audience for books and reading. Past recipients are Dr. Maya Angelou, Joan Ganz Cooney, Dave Eggers, Barbara Epstein and Robert Silvers, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Terry Gross, Mitchell Kaplan, James Patterson, Barney Rosset, Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., Kyle Zimmer, the literary organization Cave Canem, and Richard Robinson.
“At the National Book Foundation, we believe that the scope of literature is expansive; that it can and should open up entirely new worlds to its readers,” said Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. “Doron Weber is that principle in action. Firmly committed to the marriage of science and art, Weber has spent his career working to meet readers where they are, connecting them in creative ways to new ideas and modes of thinking.”
Since joining the Sloan Foundation in 1995, Weber has been a critical force behind the production of countless works of literature, film, theater, podcasts, television, and more. He has championed the work of dozens of writers and scientists, and through his Sloan program has helped guide over 100 books to publication. With a commitment to shedding light on untold stories and honoring overlooked key figures in scientific history, Weber’s work has brought extraordinary lives and achievements into the public consciousness. Throughout his career, Weber has demonstrated a commitment to the accessibility of scientific histories and information, ensuring the availability of in-depth, significant stories that are intelligible to a broad readership.
In addition to his signature program for the Public Understanding of Science, Technology & Economics, Weber also directs the Sloan Foundation’s efforts to promote Universal Access to Knowledge, which seeks to greatly enhance the accessibility of beneficial human knowledge through the use of digital information technology. Through this program, Weber has helped distribute tens of millions of dollars in grant funding to organizations that provide and safeguard public access to vast amounts of information, including Wikipedia, the Library of Congress, Digital Public Libraries of America, and more.
Weber’s work has been profiled in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Philanthropy,The Boston Globe, Fortune, and Filmmaker Magazine. His program for the Public Understanding of Science, Technology & Economics has received numerous awards, including the National Science Board’s Public Service Award “for its innovative use of traditional media—books, radio, public television—and its pioneering efforts in theater and commercial television and films to advance public understanding of science and technology.”
“We could not be prouder to recognize the unique and vital work of Doron Weber,” said David Steinberger, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation. “For more than two decades at Sloan, Weber has worked passionately and tirelessly to connect readers with exceptional storytelling that is able to distill the enormity of our world into engaging, illuminating narratives.”
In addition to his work commissioning, developing, producing, and disseminating in-depth storytelling through books and other media, Weber serves as President of The Writers Room Board, National Secretary for the Israel Rhodes Scholarship, Trustee of Shakespeare & Co, and Board Visitor of the Wikimedia Foundation. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, National Association of Corporate Directors, and USA Triathlon. Weber is the co-author of three books and the author of Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir (Simon & Schuster), named one of the 50 Notable Works of Non-Fiction by The Washington Post and an Amazon Best Book of the Month. His full bio can be found below.
Nominations for the Literarian Award are made by former National Book Award Winners, Finalists, and Judges, and other writers and literary professionals from around the country. Final selections are made by the National Book Foundation’s Board of Directors. Recipients of the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community receive $10,000.
ABOUT DORON WEBER
Doron Weber was born on a kibbutz in Israel, grew up in New York City, and was educated at Brown University, the Sorbonne, and Oxford where he was a Rhodes Scholar. Although his early training was in the arts and fiction-writing, he published several science books, worked at The Rockefeller University, a Nobel-filled biomedical research institute, and gradually moved into science. For over two decades, he has worked at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a philanthropy making grants in science, technology, and economics, where he currently serves as Vice President and Program Director.
Weber’s signature Sloan program, Public Understanding of Science and Technology, focuses on connecting the “two cultures” of science and the arts, which he regards as two sides of the same human impulse to understand and meaningfully describe the world around and inside us. Weber helps commission, develop, and produce an array of culture defining products—books, radio, television, film, theatre, new media—to illuminate and humanize science for the lay public. He helped start Radiolab, Tribeca Film Institute, and World Science Festival; supports Emmy-winning television on American Experience, NOVA, and National Geographic, award-winning plays at Ensemble Studio Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, and London’s National Theatre, and Oscar-winning films via film schools and film festivals at Sundance, Tribeca, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Weber’s book program supports individual authors and has resulted in over 100 published books. Critically acclaimed titles include Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures, Dava Sobel’s Galileo’s Daughter, Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin’s American Prometheus, Richard Rhodes’s Hedy’s Folly, Jared Diamond’s Collapse, Stuart Firestein’s Ignorance, and Eric Kandel’s The Age of Insight. More recent books include Carl Zimmer’s She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, Oren Harman’s Evolutions, Richard Rhodes’s Energy, Adam Becker’s What is Real?, Julie Wosk’s My Fair Ladies, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz’s Everybody Lies, Catherine Price’s Vitamania, David Baron’s American Eclipse, M. R. O’Connor’s Resurrection Science, Kevin Davis’s The Brain Defense, Robert Kanigel’s Eyes on the Street, Brooke Borel’s Infested, and Jonathan Waldman’s Rust.
While Weber has developed an organization that supports thousands of screenplays, plays, teleplays, radio plays, webisodes, games, VR, and librettos, he considers books to be an anchor and critical entry point for the entire program, believing books have an outsize influence because they often represent the first serious foray into a new field where authors can uncover or synthesize new knowledge and convey it in the richest, deepest, and most nuanced way. Books also serve as a platform to other media. Weber has helped adapt foundation-supported books (The Poisoner’s Handbook, Hedy’s Folly) into television documentaries (The Poisoner’s Handbook, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story); other books (Hidden Figures, The Man Who Knew Infinity) into films; and even books (The Elegant Universe) into plays (String Fever). He has championed stories about women scientists in every medium.
At Sloan, Weber also runs the program in Universal Access to Knowledge, which seeks to harness digital information technology to make the benefits of human knowledge accessible to all. His grantmaking has helped lead the Digital Public Library of America, a consortium of over 2,000 libraries, archives and museums in 50 states, and to scale Wikipedia into the largest encyclopedia in human history and the fifth largest web site in the world. A recent grant to Consumer’s Union focuses on consumer privacy in the digital age.
Weber’s work at Sloan has been profiled in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Lifehacker, Fortune, and Filmmaker Magazine. His program has received numerous awards including the National Science Board’s Public Service Award “for its innovative use of traditional media—books, radio, public television—and its pioneering efforts in theater and commercial television and films to advance public understanding of science and technology.”
Prior to Sloan, Weber worked at The Rockefeller University, the Society for the Right to Die, and The Reader’s Catalog. He has also been a screenwriter, speechwriter, teacher, tutor, taxi driver, romance novelist, busboy, and boxer. He currently serves as President of The Writers Room Board, National Secretary for the Israel Rhodes Scholarship, Trustee of Shakespeare & Co, and Board Visitor of the Wikimedia Foundation. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, National Association of Corporate Directors, and USA Triathlon.
In 2012, Weber published Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir (Simon & Schuster), named one of the 50 Notable Works of Non-Fiction by The Washington Post and an Amazon Best Book of the Month. He previously coauthored three books: Safe Blood: Purifying the Nation’s Blood Supply in the Age of AIDS, The Complete Guide to Living Wills, and Final Passages: Positive Choices for the Dying and Their Loved Ones. His articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, LA Times,USA Today, Barron’s, The Washington Post, and the Boston Review, among others. He is currently at work on a novel.
About Margot Lee Shetterly
Writer, researcher, and entrepreneur Margot Lee Shetterly is the author of Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. A 2014 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow and Virginia Foundation for the Humanities grantee, Shetterly is the founder of The Human Computer Project, an endeavor that is recovering the names and accomplishments of all of the women who worked as computers, mathematicians, scientists and engineers at the NACA and NASA from the 1930s through the 1980s. She is a native of Hampton, Virginia, where she knew many of the women behind the history in Hidden Figures. She lived for many years in New York and Mexico before moving to Charlottesville, Virginia, where she lives with her husband, writer Aran Shetterly. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia.
Each year, the National Book Foundation presents its Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, which is given to an individual for a lifetime of achievement in expanding the audience for books and reading. The Award was first presented in 2005. Nominations for the Literarian Award are made by former National Book Award Winners, Finalists, and Judges, and other writers and literary professionals from around the country. Final selections are made by the National Book Foundation’s Board of Directors. Recipients of the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community receive $10,000.
Richard Robinson has been President of Scholastic Inc. (NASDAQ: SCHL) since 1974, Chief Executive Officer since 1975, and was elected to the position of Chairman of the Board in 1982. Under Mr. Robinson’s leadership, Scholastic has become the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, a leading provider of print and digital instructional materials for pre-K to grade 12, and a producer of educational and entertaining children’s media. With annual revenue of $1.6 billion and more than 9,000 employees worldwide, the Company distributes one out of every three children’s books purchased in the US through school-based Scholastic Reading Club and Book Fairs, instructional programs, non-profit partners, retail outlets and online.
During Mr. Robinson’s tenure, publishing records were shattered with the release of each book in the Harry Potter® series by J.K. Rowling, and Scholastic published the script book of the 8th Harry Potter story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two in July 2016. Mr. Robinson also led the development of such popular series as Captain Underpants®, The Hunger Games, Clifford the Big Red Dog®, Goosebumps®, I SPY®, The Magic School Bus® and the groundbreaking, multi-platform The 39 Clues®, among many others.
Scholastic Book Club catalogues, expert-curated collections of books from all publishers, are delivered monthly to nearly every K–8 school in the US, and are available online so children and parents have access to the best children’s books at affordable prices. Every Book Club purchase helps the child’s teacher earn points toward the purchase of additional books for the classroom. More than 125,000 Scholastic Book Fairs are held in US schools annually, generating excitement about books for kids and families, and helping principals create a culture of reading in their communities.
Founded in 1920 as a single classroom magazine, Scholastic is now a leading provider of comprehensive literacy solutions for pre-K to grade 12 classrooms, serving schools and districts with a wide array of print and digital materials to support the renewed focus on independent reading as a core component of literacy instruction. Scholastic publishes 32 classroom magazines, which provide relevant, engaging content in print and digital formats reaching more than 25 million readers. The Company’s core curriculum for literacy instruction includes classroom book collections, Guided Reading programs, and classroom digital subscription programs, including GO!™ (formerly Grolier Online), Core Clicks™, Storia® School Edition and the “Flix” line of products. Scholastic is a leader in the movement to improve family and community engagement and offers professional learning programs for educators who are striving to serve the diverse needs of their students.
Under Mr. Robinson’s leadership, Scholastic has developed a rich content and e-commerce experience for teachers, parents and children on Scholastic.com, attracting more than one billion page views every year. Scholastic.com is the most trafficked website for pre-K to grade 8 teachers, and is among the largest internet booksellers, according to Internet Retailer, offering quality, affordable children’s books from all publishers.
Mr. Robinson spearheaded the global expansion of Scholastic into Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and throughout Asia, where the Company has operations mirroring the US model of trade publishing, book clubs, book fairs and curriculum materials publishing. Scholastic also exports to more than 165 countries.
Scholastic is the founding sponsor of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the most prestigious recognition program honoring America’s creative teens. Since its founding in 1923, the program has established an amazing track record for identifying the early promise of our nation’s most accomplished and prolific creative leaders. Alumni include artists Andy Warhol, Philip Pearlstein, Robert Indiana, Zac Posen, Kay WalkingStick and John Baldessari; writers Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Stephen King, Lena Dunham, Bernard Malamud and Joyce Carol Oates; photographer Richard Avedon (who won for poetry); actors Frances Farmer, Robert Redford, Alan Arkin and John Lithgow; and filmmakers Ken Burns and Richard Linklater. Outside the arts, Awards alumni employ their creativity to become leaders in fields ranging from journalism, law, and medicine, to finance and public service.
Mr. Robinson has received numerous honors for his outstanding career, including Publishers Weekly’s Publishing Innovator of the Year in 2011, the Partners for Children Award and the Corporate Leadership Award from Save the Children, R.R. Bowker’s 1998 Literary Market Place Publisher of the Year, and the Cleveland E. Dodge Medal for Distinguished Service to Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. He served as Chairman of the Association of American Publishers from 1996 to 1998, was inducted into the Association of Educational Publishers Hall of Fame, received the British American Business Award for Innovation, and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award and named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. In 2013, he was named an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia for service to the promotion of children’s literature worldwide.
Mr. Robinson is a recipient of the UJA-Federation For the Love of Reading Award, The Creative Coalition Spotlight Award, the Robin Hood Foundation’s John F. Kennedy, Jr. Corporate Hero Award and the Best Friend Award from LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program, as well as being named the National Association of Bilingual Educators’1995 Corporate Citizen of the Year -- all in recognition of his efforts to improve literacy. In 2002, Reach Out and Read established TheRichard Robinson Award in his honor to provide annual recognition to pediatric doctors and other healthcare professionals who exemplify the mission of ROR.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Richard Robinson is a magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard College. He also studied at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge University in England, and at Teachers College, Columbia University, and began his career as a high school English teacher in Evanston, IL. He is an Honorary Trustee of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Cave Canem was conceived when poets Toi Derricote and Cornelius Eady were vacationing together in Pompeii, Italy in 1996. At the entryway of The House of the Tragic Poet, was the famous mosaic Cave Canem, which means “Beware of the Dog,” and signified to them that African-American poets need to have a safe space to practice their craft if they are to thrive.
Cave Canem’s flagship program is an annual writing retreat held at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, PA that welcomes emerging African-American poets from across the United States and around the world. Poets become “fellows,” and are invited to attend two additional retreats within a five-year period. Among the major literary awards received by fellows are the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, the NAACP Image Award, the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and the Ruth Lilly and Lannan Fellowships.
Delivered in partnership with five prestigious presses, Cave Canem administers three books awards of its own: The Cave Canem Poetry Prize, the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize, and the Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize.
In addition to the flagship writing retreat and the book awards, there are community-based workshops for emerging adult poets, conversations with legendary poets and scholars, new works readings showcasing poetry by contemporary African-American practitioners, cross-cultural craft conversations with poets of color in mid-career, a popular lecture series, and a poets tour representing over 70 fellows.
Cave Canem has over 20 local, regional, and national cultural partnerships and collaborative residencies for fellows at such sites as the Millay Colony for the Arts, the Vermont Studio Center, and Community of Writers at Squaw Valley.
The success of Cave Canem has inspired the creation of Kundiman, a national organization dedicated to the creation and cultivation of Asian-American poetry; CantoMundo, which provides a space for the creation and critical analysis of Latina/o poetry; and Kimbilio, a community of writers and scholars committed to developing, empowering, and sustaining fiction writers from the African diaspora.
James Patterson has created more enduring fictional characters than any other novelist writing today with his Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, Women's Murder Club, Private, NYPD Red, Daniel X, Maximum Ride, and Middle School series. As of January 2016, he has sold over 350 million books worldwide and currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers. In addition to writing the thriller novels for which he is best known, he also writes children's, middle-grade, and young-adult fiction and is also the first author to have #1 new titles simultaneously on the New York Times adult and children's bestsellers lists.
The son of an insurance salesman and a schoolteacher, Patterson grew up in Newburgh, New York, and began casually writing at the age of nineteen. In 1969, he graduated from Manhattan College. He was given a full ride to Vanderbilt University's graduate program in English but dropped out after a year, knowing that he wouldn't be able to continue reading and writing for pleasure if he became a college professor.
Instead, he moved to New York to become a junior copywriter for the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson, eventually becoming CEO of its North American company.
In 1976, while still working for J. Walter Thompson, Patterson published his first novel, The Thomas Berryman Number, with Little, Brown and Company. After being turned down by thirty-one publishers, it won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Patterson's 1993 novel, Along Came a Spider, his first novel to feature Alex Cross, was also his firstNew York Times bestseller in fiction.
In 2001, Morgan Freeman starred as Alex Cross in a film adaptation of Along Came a Spider, and Tyler Perry also played the character in the 2012 film Alex Cross. A film adaptation of Patterson's middle-grade novel Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life will be released in theaters in October 2016.
For his initiatives to help kids become passionate readers and for his philanthropic efforts, Patterson was awarded the National Book Foundation's 2015 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community.
James Patterson has donated more than one million books to students, emphasizing some of the most under-resourced schools and youth programs in the country. In 2015, Patterson donated $1.75 million to public school libraries throughout the United States, $1 million to independent bookstores, and a further $250,000 in holiday bonuses to individual bookstore employees. He also gave $1 million to independent bookstores in 2014.
Patterson has recently donated over $26 million to his and his wife's alma maters—the University of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt University, and Manhattan College—and he has established over four hundred Teacher Education Scholarships at twenty-four colleges and universities throughout the country. Patterson has also donated over 650,000 books to U.S. soldiers at home and overseas.
In May 2015, Patterson launched a new children's book imprint at Little, Brown, called JIMMY Patterson, that is unwaveringly focused on one goal: turning kids into lifelong readers. This imprint also provides resources, strategies, and programs to serve teachers, parents, librarians, and booksellers. Patterson will be investing proceeds from the sales of JIMMY Patterson Books in pro-reading initiatives.
Patterson has also founded ReadKiddoRead.com, a website designed to help parents, teachers, and librarians ignite a new generation's excitement for reading. Awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize and the American Library Association's Great Websites for Kids, the site features thoughtful book reviews from a variety of genres and age ranges, a large and lively Facebook community, and contributions from other authors.
Mr. Patterson's awards for adult and children's literature include the Edgar Award, the International Thriller of the Year Award, and the Children's Choice Award for Author of the Year.
He lives in Palm Beach with his wife, Sue, and his son, Jack.
Born in Zanesville, Ohio, Zimmer attended the University of Iowa and graduated from George Washington University Law School. She worked as a corporate attorney for several years in Washington, DC while also volunteering as a tutor for Martha’s Table, a multi-service community organization for the District’s families in need.
Realizing that the children she was working with had no books to call their own spurred Zimmer to take action and in 1992, Zimmer founded First Book. To provide quality books to underserved children, Zimmer developed two groundbreaking models of social entrepreneurship: the First Book Marketplace, an award-winning, self-sustaining program that purchases new books from publishers and makes them available to educators and program leaders at affordable prices, and the First Book National Book Bank, which serves as the nation’s largest clearinghouse for new books donated by publishers. In addition, First Book’s market-driven Stories for All Project is serving as a catalyst to increase diversity in children’s books, so that all children can see themselves in books.
With Zimmer at the helm, First Book distributes millions of new books and educational resources every year to children from low-income families through a growing network of schools, programs, churches, and institutions across the United States, as well as in as well as in Canada, Peru, Haiti, Jamaica, India and other countries.
A passionate advocate for social entrepreneurship, educational equity, and the importance of literacy to further economic competitiveness and global understanding, Zimmer has participated in some of the world’s most prestigious economic forums. In 2013, Zimmer was a presenter at the University of Oxford’s “Power Shift: Forum for Women in the World Economy” at the Saïd Business School at Oxford. Zimmer and First Book were also featured at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative. Zimmer was also a presenter and blogger at the World Economic Forum in Beijing in 2012, served as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Social Entrepreneurship, and was featured as a presenter at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2010.
Zimmer has won numerous awards and honors, including the Carle Honors Angel Award in 2009, the first ever American Marketing Association Nonprofit Marketer of the Year in 2008, and the Outstanding Social Entrepreneur of the Year in the United States in 2007 from the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Ashoka, which works to ensure that social entrepreneurs and their innovations continue to inspire a new generation of local change-makers. She also serves on the Youth Venture Board of Directors and as a member of the board for James Patterson’s ReadKiddoRead.
Born Marguerite Johnson on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, Dr. Maya Angelou was a writer, poet, performer, and teacher. In 1969, with the publication of her groundbreaking literary autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou rose to international prominence as an author. Caged Bird is an intelligent and sophisticated story of how Angelou transformed herself from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a self-assured, dignified young woman and civil activist. The book was banned by many schools and colleges because of its frank portrayal of childhood rape, racism, and sexuality. In 2013, at the age of 85, Angelou published her seventh autobiography, Mom & Me & Mom.
Dr. Angelou has also published five books of poetry, including I Shall Not Be Moved, three books of essays, including Letter to My Daughter, a children's book, and six long-form poems, including “Mother” and “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she read at the 1992 inauguration of President William Jefferson Clinton. Angelou's reading marked the first time that an African American woman wrote and presented a poem at a Presidential inauguration. She was also the second poet in history to do so, following Robert Frost, who recited a poem at the swearing-in ceremony of John F. Kennedy in 1961. The list of her published verse, non-fiction, and fiction now includes more than 30 bestselling titles.
Angelou's remarkable career encompasses dance, theater, journalism, and social activism. She appeared in Broadway and Off-Broadway plays, including Cabaret for Freedom, which she wrote with Godfrey Cambridge. She also lived and worked in Cairo and Ghana, first as the associate editor of The Arab Observer and then as features editor and writer for The Ghanaian Times. At the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she served as the Northern Coordinator of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1978, she was a National Book Award Judge for Biography and Autobiography.
Angelou has received more than 30 honorary degrees and has been inducted into the Wake Forest University Hall of Fame for Writers. In 2010 President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor.
Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr.
Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr. was named chairman of The New York Times Company in 1997. He became publisher of The New York Times in 1992 and continues to run the Company’s flagship enterprise on a day-to-day basis. Over the past decade, he has shaped and implemented innovative print and online initiatives that are enabling the Company to compete successfully in the 21st century global media marketplace.
During Mr. Sulzberger’s tenure as publisher, The Times has earned 53 Pulitzer Prizes and provided its readers with innumerable examples of momentous journalism such as its breakthrough series “How Race is Lived in America,” its internationally acclaimed coverage of the September 11 terrorist attack in a “A Nation Challenged” and “Portraits of Grief,” “Class Matters,” an 11-part series exploring class in American society, “Distracted Driving,” examining the serious risks of talking or texting while operating an automobile, “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts,” an expose of the Bush Administration’s use of wiretaps and “China Rises,” a four-part, multimedia series.
Before coming to The Times, Mr. Sulzberger was a reporter with The Raleigh (N.C.) Times from 1974 to 1976, and a London correspondent for The Associated Press from 1976 to 1978.
He joined The Times in 1978 as a correspondent in its Washington bureau. He moved to New York as a metro reporter in 1981 and was appointed assistant metro editor later that year.
From 1983 to 1987, he worked in a variety of business departments, including production and corporate planning. In January 1987, he was named assistant publisher and, a year later, deputy publisher, overseeing the news and business departments. In both capacities, he was involved in planning The Times’s automated color printing and distribution facilities in Edison, N.J., and at College Point in Queens, N.Y., as well as the creation of the six-section color newspaper.
Mr. Sulzberger was on the board of both the North Carolina Outward Bound and the New York Outward Bound Schools, serving as chairman of the later. He also helped found and was chairman of the Times Square Alliance. He is a current member of the board of the Mohonk Preserve.
Mr. Sulzberger earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Tufts University in 1974. He is also a 1985 graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Program for Management Development.
Born in Miami, Florida, Mitchell Kaplan is best known for the creation of the Miami Book Fair International, the largest community book festival in the United States and a model for book fairs across the country.
Kaplan began his working career as a high school English teacher. Two years after opening an independent bookstore, Books & Books, Kaplan, along with the Dade County Library and other independent bookstore owners, was asked by the president of the downtown Wolfson campus of the Miami-Dade College, Eduardo J. Padrón, to help put on a book fair, originally called "Books by the Bay."
Kaplan emerged as one of the influential leaders of the Fair that has created community pride and has become a model for other fairs across the country. The Fair brings over 300 renowned national and international authors exhibitors to a weeklong celebration of all things literary and includes pavilions for translation, comics, children, and young adults.
In addition to overseeing five bookstores, including one located in Grand Cayman, Kaplan serves as the Chair of the Miami Book Fair Board of Directors and on the steering committee of the Florida Center for the Literary Arts, Miami-Dade College's literary center. He has served as President of the American Booksellers Association, and on the Board of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. He lives in Miami with his wife, Rachelle, and their twin sons, Jonah and Daniel, and their daughter, Anya.
Joan Ganz Cooney
Joan Ganz Cooney (b. November 30, 1929) began her career as a reporter in her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. From 1954 to 1962 she worked as a publicist for NBC in New York and for the U.S. Steel Hour, a highly acclaimed CBS drama series. Mrs. Cooney eventually produced documentaries at WNET/Channel 13, winning her first Emmy for Poverty, Anti-Poverty, and the Poor, a documentary on the U.S. government’s War on Poverty program.
In 1966, with the support of Lloyd Morrisett, then a vice president at the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Mrs. Cooney produced a study entitled The Potential Uses of Television in Preschool Education, which provided the rationale for using television to teach disadvantaged children basic skills through programs that were both educational and entertaining. The report convinced the corporation to partly finance such a project, and Mrs. Cooney and Dr. Morrisett were able to raise the rest of the $8 million through the U.S. Office of Education, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Ford Foundation. In 1968, the Children’s Television Workshop was born (it was renamed Sesame Workshop in 2000).
Sesame Street debuted a year later and had an immediate and revolutionary impact on children’s educational television. It was the first preschool program to integrate education and entertainment as well as feature a multicultural cast. It has been broadcast daily since 1969 in the U.S. on more than 300 Public Broadcasting Service stations and has been seen by hundreds of millions of children in more than 140 foreign countries. Indigenous co-productions reflecting local languages, customs and educational needs have since been produced for audiences in the Arab world, Israel, India, Indonesia, Bosnia, Portugal, Turkey, Germany, France, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Russia, China, South Africa, Egypt, the Philippines, Canada, Spain, and Latin America.
Dave Eggers is the bestselling author of seven books, including A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award; Zeitoun, winner of the American Book Award and Dayton Literary Peace Prize; and What Is the What, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won France’s Prix Medici. That book, about Valentino Achak Deng, a survivor of the civil war in Sudan, gave birth to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, which operates a secondary school in South Sudan run by Mr. Deng. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney’s, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco that produces a quarterly journal, a monthly magazine, The Believer, a quarterly DVD of short films and documentaries, Wholphin, and an oral history series, Voice of Witness. In 2002, with Nínive Calegari he cofounded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. Local communities have since opened sister 826 centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Ann Arbor, Seattle, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Eggers is also the founder of ScholarMatch, a program that matches donors with students needing funds for college tuition. A native of Chicago, Eggers now lives in Northern California with his wife and two children.
Barney Rosset, through his publishing house, Grove Press, and his magazine, The Evergreen Review, introduced American readers to such literary giants as Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, Jean Genet, and Eugène Ionesco, as well as many of the writers of the Beat generation. He fought two landmark first amendment battles in order to publish the uncensored version of D.H. Lawrence’s novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. Rosset was a tenacious champion for writers who were struggling to be read in America and this award recognizes his vision and his enormous contributions to American publishing.
Robert B. Silvers is editor of The New York Review of Books. Prior to joining theReview, Mr. Silvers was, from 1959 to 1963, associate editor of Harper’s magazine, editor of the book Writing in America and translator of La Gangrène. Before that, Mr. Silvers lived in Paris for six years (1952 to 1958), where he served with the U.S. Army at SHAPE Headquarters and attended the Sorbonne and École des Sciences Politiques. He joined the editorial board of The Paris Review in 1954 and became Paris editor in 1956. He also worked as press secretary to Governor Chester Bowles in 1950. Mr. Silvers, who graduated from the University of Chicago in 1947, was born in Mineola, New York.
Barbara Epstein (1928–2006) worked in publishing and at The Partisan Review before becoming editor of The New York Review of Books in 1963. She began her publishing career at Doubleday & Co., where she served as junior editor after graduating from Radcliffe College in 1949. She was born Barbara Zimmerman in Boston, Massachusetts.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti was born in Yonkers, New York, in 1919. He received an AB degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina, and an MA from Columbia University, where he wrote a thesis on the influence of John Ruskin’s writing on J.M.W. Turner. After Navy service in World War II, he worked in the mail room at Time Magazine for a while, then lived in Paris (1947–1951), where he received a Doctorat de l’Universite from the Sorbonne in 1949. It was in France that Ferlinghetti began painting. On his return to the United States he settled in San Francisco, where he and Peter D. Martin founded the first all paperbound bookstore in the country, City Lights Books. Under its imprint, Ferlinghetti began the Pocket Poets Series which included work by William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Patchen, Kenneth Rexroth, and Antonin Artaud. Ferlinghetti’s second books of poems, A Coney Island of the Mind (New Directions, 1958) is one of the best selling poetry books of our time. A Far Rockaway of the Heart (ND, 1997) won a silver medal, in the category of Poetry, in the California Book Awards, sponsored by The Commonwealth Club of California. On August 11, 1998, Ferlinghetti was named San Francisco’s first poet laureate. He received The Before Columbus Foundation "Lifetime Achievement Award" for the twentieth annual American Book Awards for 1999. In 2001 he was one of two American poets (the other being John Ashbery) chosen to participate in the second celebration of UNESCO’s World Poetry Day in Delphi, Greece, where he along with his international confreres poetically addressed the Oracle. He has also been writing a weeky column, “Poetry as News,” for the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review. In December 2006, Ferlinghetti was named a Commandeur in the French Order of Arts and Letters. Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s reputation within the literary world grows out of his commitment to literature and to the literary artists who have pushed the edges of the literary envelope shaping the last half of this century. He is a man of many hats, and he brings to each of his roles an approach that challenges tradition. It is his uncharacteristic personality that allows him to balance comfortably activities as diverse as those of poet, novelist, playwright, publisher, critic, social activist, and visual artist.