Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service
Throughout his career in public service, Greg Simon has been at the forefront of developing some of our country’s most groundbreaking health and science policies. Mr. Simon began his career as the General Counsel and Staff Director of the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. From 1991-1993, he served as the Legislative Director for then-Senator Gore and went on to serve as his Chief Domestic Policy Advisor during his Vice Presidency. During his time at the White House, Mr. Simon oversaw the development and passage of several key biotechnology initiatives at the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration while also helping to negotiate the U.S.-Russia agreement on the International Space Station. Mr. Simon continued his dedication to advocating for and crafting forward-thinking policies even after leaving government service. In 2003, he was selected to serve as the founding president of FasterCures and led key programs that pushed for increased data sharing in the field of biomedicine and the quicker dissemination of life-saving medicines for deadly and debilitating diseases. He went on to serve as a Senior Vice President at Pfizer, developing crucial programs that increased collaboration with nonprofit research organizations; and CEO at Poliwogg, a crowdfunding firm for healthcare and science-focused startups. In 2016, Mr. Simon was appointed by Vice President Biden to lead the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force.
The Arc of the United States
Award for Institutional Excellence
Established in 1950, The Arc of the United States is a national leader in activism and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities and their families. Beginning with a small group of concerned citizens, the organization grew out of a need for information and services at a time when there was very little support or understanding of intellectual and developmental disabilities. Since then The Arc has grown to over 700 chapters nationwide, with its members acting as advocates at the state and local level. Understanding that the challenges faced are complex and multi-faceted, the organization provides support on a number of issues ranging from employment and health promotion programs to developing public policy and providing legal advocacy.
From its inception, The Arc has consistently campaigned for and developed platforms upon which individuals with disabilities can act as advocates for themselves, placing their voices at the forefront of a movement. With programs like the National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability, its work is a reminder that timely issues like criminal justice reform impact a cross-section of communities. While people with intellectual and developmental disabilities may face unique challenges, The Arc compels us to remember and include their voices in all conversations.
Anthony Shadid Award for Excellence in Journalism
The Dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism, Steve Coll’s sharp insight has been a hallmark of his acclaimed career. In 1985, he joined the Washington Post as a general assignment feature writer where he began a distinguished twenty-year stretch with the paper, later serving as its managing editor. In 1990, Mr. Coll along with his colleague David A. Vise, earned a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism for their articles examining the impact of former chairman John Shad’s policies on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The author of seven books on topics ranging from exposés on ExxonMobil’s dealings, to his travels throughout South Asia covering corruption and violence in the region, his career has been dedicated to exploring and reporting some of the world’s most pressing topics. His 2004 book Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 offered a searing account of the CIA’s operations in Afghanistan and its many failed attempts to capture Osama Bin Laden. Garnering him a Pulitzer Prize in 2005, Mr. Coll’s narrative went further and deeper than any other previous account of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, broadening the American public’s understanding of the events that led to September 11th. From 2007 to 2013, he served as the President and CEO of the New America Foundation, a think tank dedicated to generating new solutions to some of public policy’s oldest debates. A staff writer at the New Yorker, Mr. Coll frequently writes on a number of topics, including foreign intelligence and national security.
Award for Individual Achievement
An immigrant from Turkey, Hamdi Ulukaya is emblematic of the open and entrepreneurial spirit of many who come to this country. With the help of a loan from the Small Business Administration and local grants, he established his Greek yogurt company “Chobani” in 2005. In less than a decade, he grew the company’s worth to more than $1 billion. Despite the meteoric rise of Chobani, Mr. Ulukaya has been dedicated to redefining the role of the corporate sector in philanthropy. After witnessing the worsening refugee crisis around the globe, he established the Tent Foundation—his personal philanthropy that seeks to improve the lives and livelihoods of the world’s 65 million refugees and displaced people and help them realize their full potential. Understanding the intricate and enduring nature of this crisis, Mr. Ulukaya signed the “Giving Pledge” in 2015 committing to give away most of his personal wealth over his lifetime to assist refugees. His commitment to refugees extends to his own business, which employs hundreds of newly settled individuals while also providing much needed support such as English classes to help them integrate into their new communities. Sitting on the boards of the Special Olympics and the Pathfinder Village, he is a testament to living one’s life in service of others.
Kamal Boullata is a Palestinian artist and art historian whose works are world renown for their exploration of such themes as the relationship between light/dark and identity/exile. Born in Jerusalem in 1942, Boullata spent much time as a child sketching the Dome of the Rock and its magnificent geometric patterns in the studio of Khalil Halaby. His promise was recognized with a scholarship that took him to Europe where he graduated from the Academia di Belle Arte in Rome. Upon returning home he was at the forefront of a general art awakening in the area, however, the 1967 war forced Boullata to leave Jerusalem.
Immigrating to the United States, Boullata continued his studies at the Corcoran Art Museum School while using this time to make significant contributions to the cause of Palestinian activism and the Arab American awakening that was occurring at the time.
A pioneer of contemporary Arabic art, Boullata began his career as a painter, mounting exhibitions and reading his translations of Palestinian poetry at universities across the United States. During this time, Boullata designed a wide range of posters highlighting the Palestinian struggle for justice and designed the logos of several Palestinian aid institutions. An early adopter of intersectional activism, Boullata organized a reading with Black and American Jewish poets on Capitol Hill to protest Israel’s 1982 war on Lebanon.
In 1988, Boullata co-curated the first exhibition of works by Israeli and Palestinian artists. On this occasion, an Israeli-Palestinian Peace Treaty, the first of its kind, was signed by more than one hundred Israeli and Palestinian writers, artists and academics. It called for a just solution for Palestinian refugees, and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state. Following the first Palestinian Intifada, Boullata authored Faithful Witnesses: Palestinian Children Recreate Their World, a collection of paintings from Palestinian children.
Always expanding his reach and pushing his work to new horizons, Boullata pursued field research on Islamic art in Morocco and Spain and on post-Byzantine painting in Palestine. In 2012-13, Kamal Boullata was elected as a Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin.