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CONTACT: ANDREW BRESLAU
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Website: Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship
Cecile Richards and Bill McKibben Announced as Recipients of the 2010 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship
November 9, 2010 (New York, NY): The Nation Institute announced today that Planned Parenthood president, Cecile Richards, and author, educator, and environmentalist Bill McKibben have both been chosen to receive the annual $100,000 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. This is the first year the prize has been awarded to two winners. McKibben and Richards will receive the award on December 6, 2010 at The Nation Institute Annual Dinner Gala in New York City.
The Puffin Foundation and The Nation Institute are the mutual sponsors of the award, which is given to an individual who has challenged the status quo through distinctive, courageous, imaginative, and socially responsible work of significance. Recipients are to be found in a broad range of occupations and pursuits, including academia, journalism, public health, literature, art, the environmental sciences, labor, and the humanities. The prize is intended to encourage the recipients to continue their work, and to inspire others to challenge the prevailing orthodoxies they face in their careers.
Cecile Richards serves as president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, PPFA's advocacy and political arm. She is a leader in national progressive politics with more than 30 years of experience working on behalf of social justice and reproductive freedom. Since February 2006, Ms. Richards has led Planned Parenthood to many significant achievements, including its success in ensuring FDA approval of over-the-counter status for emergency contraception, and the launch of a nationwide campaign to provide comprehensive, medically accurate sex education for all young people in the United States. Her yearlong tireless leadership in the fight for healthcare reform ensured that the bill, passed in March 2010, would strengthen women's health overall and include access to reproductive healthcare. Ms. Richards leads a federation of 87 Planned Parenthood affiliates that manage more than 825 health centers nationwide, providing family planning and reproductive healthcare services, education, and information to millions each year.
Prior to joining PPFA, Ms. Richards served as the founder and president of America Votes, a coalition of 42 national organizations, including the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. America Votes was created to maximize voter registration, education, and mobilization among grassroots organizations. Fresh out of college, her first job was organizing low-wage workers in the hotel, healthcare, and janitorial industries throughout California, Louisiana, and Texas.
"I am humbled and honored to receive this award from The Nation Institute and The Puffin Foundation," said Richards. "This prize honors the essential work that the entire Planned Parenthood community does on behalf of women's health and rights throughout the United States and around the world. Most importantly, this very special prize recognizes the fact that there is still much work to do so that every woman has the right and the power to make the most basic choices for herself and to shape the course of her own life. When that day arrives, we will be much closer to achieving social justice for all."
Bill McKibben, the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, is an American environmentalist and author who frequently writes about global warming and alternative energy, and advocates for more localized economies. In 2010 The Boston Globe called him "probably the nation's leading environmentalist" and Time magazine described him as "the world's best green journalist". In 2009, he led the organization of 350.org, which coordinated what Foreign Policy called "the largest ever global coordinated rally of any kind," with 5,200 simultaneous demonstrations in 181 countries. The magazine named him to its inaugural list of the 100 most important global thinkers, and MSN named him one of the dozen most influential men of 2009.
Beginning his career at The New Yorker as a staff writer, he wrote much of the "Talk of the Town" column from 1982 to early 1987. His debut book, The End of Nature, was published in 1989 by Random House after being serialized in The New Yorker. It is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change. Subsequently, McKibben has authored another 12 books covering issues as diverse as genetic engineering to media culture to local economic development planning. In January 2007, he founded stepitup07.org to demand that Congress enact curbs on carbon emissions that would cut global warming pollution by 80 percent by 2050. With six college students, he organized 1,400 global warming demonstrations across all 50 states on April 14, 2007. Step It Up 2007 has been described as the largest day of protest about climate change in the nation's history. McKibben is also a frequent contributor to various magazines, including The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Orion Magazine, Mother Jones, The New York Review of Books, Granta, Rolling Stone, and Outside.
"I'm a beginner as an organizer; it's a great honor to be included on this list of people who have changed America for the better. I am deeply grateful to The Puffin Foundation and The Nation Institute for this recognition of my work. I am even more appreciative that this award is representative of a shared conviction that now is a singular moment in our history for all people of good conscience to come together in defense of the planet. Our work has never been more urgent."
Perry Rosenstein, President of The Puffin Foundation, Ltd., the co-sponsor of the Creative Citizenship prize, said, "Bill McKibben and Cecile Richards are leaders, pure and simple. In thought and in action, their work – whether it's protecting our precious natural world or our precious right of self determination – inspires and emboldens us. They are exemplary lifelong public citizens: creative and tough, dedicated and ardent."
Andrew Breslau, President of The Nation Institute, the co-sponsor of the prize, said, "In a year when the fragility of our environment and a woman's right to choose are both called in question by stubborn, sustained attack, Cecile's and Bill's achievements are particularly important to recognize. They are both fighters whose moral convictions and political sophistication are matched by that rarest of combinations: grit and grace."
Ms. Richards and Mr. McKibben are the 10th and 11th winners of the award. Activist and former Texas State Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower was last year's winner. Previous recipients have been environmental activist Van Jones, human rights lawyer Michael Ratner, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, educator and author Jonathan Kozol, journalist and author Barbara Ehrenreich, professor and anti-death penalty advocate David Protess, labor activist Dolores Huerta, and civil rights pioneer Robert Parris Moses.
Since its founding in 1983, The Puffin Foundation has sought to open the doors of artistic expression by providing grants to artists and art organizations who are often excluded from mainstream opportunities due to their race, gender, or social philosophy. Puffins, whose nesting sites were endangered by encroaching civilization, were encouraged to return to their native habitats through the constructive efforts of a concerned citizenry. The Foundation adopted the name Puffin as a metaphor for how it sees its mission, which is to ensure that the arts continue to grow and enrich our lives.
A nonprofit media center, The Nation Institute was established to extend the reach of progressive ideas and strengthen the independent press. Its dynamic range of programs include a bestselling book publishing imprint, Nation Books; an award-winning Investigative Fund, which supports groundbreaking investigative journalism; the widely read and syndicated website TomDispatch; an internship program at The Nation magazine; and Journalism Fellowships that fund up to 25 high-profile reporters every year. Work produced by The Nation Institute has sparked Congressional hearings, new legislation, FBI investigations, and the resignation of government officials, has changed the debate, and has a regular impact on the most urgent social and political issues of our day.