Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Philanthropies and The Heinz Endowments and a visionary, passionate philanthropist, will be awarded the 2003 Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism, The Johns Hopkins University announced.
Heinz is being recognized for her efforts to protect the environment, to promote healthcare and education and to improve the lives of women and children around the world, said the university, which administers the Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal for the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
"She is willing to invest herself in these things she cares passionately about. She doesn't just give money; she gives of herself," said Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, who nominated Heinz for the award. "I applaud her personal and passionate efforts, but I marvel at the way she also brings out the best in others. She is a catalyst of humanitarian acts."
The Schweitzer Gold Medal, named for medical missionary, theologian, musician and environmentalist 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 Portugese doctor, Heinz grew up in Mozambique, in East Africa, where she developed a strong 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 has 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 (D-Mass.), she is the widow of Sen. John Heinz (R-Pa.), who died in 1991. After his death, she was urged to run for 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 Johns Hopkins Homewood campus at 3400 N. Charles St. in Baltimore.
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 in Berlin.
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