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Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
April 8, 2008

Inaugural Recipients of the Benjamin Franklin Awards for Public Diplomacy

Today at the U.S. Department of State, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice honored the recipients of the inaugural Benjamin Franklin Awards for Public Diplomacy. The awardees were chosen for their outstanding leadership in advancing America’s ideals through public diplomacy by offering a positive vision of hope and opportunity rooted in America's belief in freedom, justice, opportunity and respect for all.

The creation of the Benjamin Franklin Awards for Public Diplomacy was announced by Secretary of State Rice in January 2007 at the Private Sector Summit on Public Diplomacy to recognize that all sectors of American society – individuals, schools, foundations, associations, and corporations – actively contribute to advancing America’s ideals through public diplomacy. The awards highlight that solutions to the challenges of the 21st century will come from these sectors working together to empower, educate, and inspire key audiences such as women, youth, and educators; and to engage with under-served communities and grassroots organizations both in the United States and abroad.

This new award program is the most prestigious honor that the Department of State can bestow on American citizens who are making outstanding contributions to public diplomacy. The awards were presented in four categories: individuals, corporations, academic institutions, and not-for-profit organizations.

Non-Profit Category Award Winner: Search for Common Ground

Search for Common Ground (SFCG) is an international conflict resolution organization that uses the tools of popular culture, as well as grass roots approaches, to transform the way the world deals with conflict: away from adversarial approaches and toward cooperative solutions. Through the production of well-crafted and entertaining TV, radio, and Internet programs, SFCG communicates messages of conflict resolution, mutual respect, and tolerance, to mass audiences around the world. SFCG works with local partners to find culturally appropriate means to strengthen societies' capacity to deal with conflicts constructively: to understand their differences and act on their commonalities. They work with key constituencies – including women and youth – to address the root causes of conflict, including ethnic and religious divisions, bad governance, inequality, and exclusion. We recognize Search for Common Ground for its pioneering work as a non-profit organization promoting the highest of American values -- freedom, justice, tolerance and respect for all. John Marks, President, accepted the award on behalf of Search for Common Ground.

Academic Category Award Winner: University of Southern California

Located in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC) is one of the world's leading private research universities. In August 2003, the University established the USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School (CPD) as a partnership between the Annenberg School for Communication and the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences' School of International Relations. CPD is a joint research and professional training facility dedicated to furthering the study and practice of public diplomacy as it is practiced around the world. In 2005, USC created the first graduate-level teaching program in the world devoted exclusively to public diplomacy, and will graduate its first full Master of Public Diplomacy class in May 2008. We honor the University for its vision in developing the world's premier research facility in the field of public diplomacy and for its excellence in educating the next generation of public diplomacy practitioners. Adam Clayton Powell, III, Vice Provost, Globalization, accepted the award on behalf of the University of Southern California.

Corporate Category Award Winner: Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson is the world's largest provider of consumer and professional health care products, including medical devices and diagnostics, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology products. Johnson & Johnson is the founding sponsor of Safe Kids Worldwide and provides grants and volunteers for many of its initiatives. Safe Kids Worldwide is a non-profit global network of organizations in 17 countries and on every continent whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children 14 and under. Johnson & Johnson’s support allows Safe Kids Worldwide to impact families around the world through educational programs, local research into child safety trends, and advocacy for child safety legislation. We recognize Johnson & Johnson for demonstrating the generous and caring spirit of America’s private sector. Raymond C. Jordan, Corporate Vice President for Public Affairs & Corporate Communications accepted the award on behalf of Johnson & Johnson.

Individual Category Award Winner: Dave Brubeck

As a pianist, composer, cultural emissary and educator, Dave Brubeck’s life’s work exemplifies the best of America’s cultural diplomacy. Declared a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, his career has spanned seven decades, giving thousands of concerts and devoting countless hours to introducing the language of jazz to new generations around the world. In 2000, the University of the Pacific founded the Brubeck Institute to honor two of its most famous alumni, Dave and his wife Iola. The mission of the Institute is to build on Dave Brubeck's legacy and his lifelong dedication to music, creativity, education, and the advancement of important social issues including civil rights, environmental concerns, international relations, and social justice. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Dave Brubeck’s first tour for the Department of State. We recognize Dave Brubeck for offering a positive vision of hope, opportunity and freedom through a musical language that is truly American.

The Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy is managed by the Office of Private Sector Outreach for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, which was established in 2005 to engage U.S. businesses, universities, foundations, and private citizens in the critical work of public diplomacy. To nominate a candidate for the Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy or to discuss potential partnerships, email us at diplomacyupdate@state.gov.


Released on April 8, 2008

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