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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 2, 2003 | Vol. 33 No. 1
Teresa Heinz to Receive Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism

Teresa Heinz, chair of the Heinz Family Philanthropies and the Heinz Endowments and a visionary leader and passionate philanthropist, will be awarded the 2003 Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism, Johns Hopkins announced last week.

Heinz's inspiring work in protecting the environment, promoting health care and education, and uplifting women and children around the world was cited as the reason for Heinz's receiving the award, which the university administers for the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

"She is really willing to invest herself in these things she cares passionately about. She doesn't just give money, but she gives of herself," said Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the person who nominated Heinz for the award. "She brings out the best in people. I applaud her personal and passionate efforts, but I marvel at the way she brings out the best in others. She is a catalyst of humanitarian acts."

The Schweitzer Gold Medal, named for medical missionary, theologian and musician Albert Schweitzer, was established in New York in 1986 by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to honor von Humboldt's service to humanity and to advance humanitarianism in the United States by recognizing exceptional achievement in the service of humanitarian causes. Previous recipients include former President George Bush, who received the award in 1997 for his role in negotiating the peaceful unification of Germany. Recipients of the parallel Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, also administered by Johns Hopkins for the foundation, have included Jimmy Carter, Marian Wright Edelman, Norman Cousins, Ted Turner and C. Everett Koop.

The daughter of a Portuguese doctor, Heinz grew up in Mozambique, in East Africa, where she developed a passion for the environment and a respect for nature and the natural order. She grew up accompanying her father on his rounds to see patients, and that early experience profoundly influenced her on issues relating to women's and children's health. Observers say the worldliness has made her passionate and humble, an inspiration to others.

With a degree from the Interpreter School at the University of Geneva, Heinz is fluent in five languages. Now married to Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, she is the widow of Sen. John Heinz of Pennsylvania, who died in 1991. After his death, she was offered an interim appointment to his seat in Congress, but she chose instead to assume the stewardship of the Heinz family philanthropic operations.

Since then, she has made the foundations she oversees widely known and respected for developing innovative strategies to promote public health, protect the environment, enhance the lives of young children, improve education, broaden economic opportunity and support the arts.

The Gold Medal will be awarded at an 8 p.m. ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 23, in Shriver Hall Auditorium on the Homewood campus.

Two Alexander von Humboldt foundations, named for the eminent German scientist and explorer, were created by Alfred Toepfer, an international grain merchant from Hamburg, Germany. The goal of both the European branch, chartered in 1959, and the branch based in New York, chartered in 1979, is to assist and promote environmental conservation; scientific, literary and charitable endeavors; and the moral, mental and physical welfare of young people.

Johns Hopkins was selected to administer the U.S. foundation's Gold Medal because of the special ties that exist between Germany and the university. Hopkins was founded in 1876 as the first American university for graduate studies based on the German model of making education an intricate part of the research process. The university's first president, Daniel Coit Gilman, studied at the University of Berlin.

Today, the university maintains ties to Germany through the work of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies and through the university's European office, which is located in Berlin.


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