National Jefferson Award winners announced - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

National Jefferson Award winners announced

Posted: Updated:

WASHINGTON (WRCB) – A Chattanooga radio host and inner-city baseball coach is among the Americans being honored for their extraordinary, selfless contributions to the community good at a gala event Tuesday in Washington.

Keith Landecker was chosen in March, from a group of 12 honorees, as Chattanooga's 2011 Jefferson Award winner. Tuesday night, he was present as the national Jefferson Awards winner were named.

Actress Marlo Thomas, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry M. Reinsdorf, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and former Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn are among 18 Americans whose contributions to the community have earned them the nation's highest honor for public service – the 2011 Jefferson Awards.

Known as the "Nobel Prize" for public service, the 39th annual awards will be presented in ceremonies over two days – at a special gala ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday evening, June 21, followed the next day by a noon luncheon in New York City.

In addition to high-profile individuals who have dedicated the better part of their lives to public service and enriching their communities, the awards also honor largely unsung community-based volunteers, companies that represent the pinnacle in corporate citizenship and students that best reflect the Jeffersonian ideals of citizen involvement.

Among the 2011 honorees are a young brother and sister who have raised millions of dollars in phone cards for U.S. servicemen stationed overseas; an 83-year-old nun who provides love and care for infants and children whose families are in crisis; a mother of eight who established an inner-city health center; and a teenage immigrant from South Korea who founded programs that help homeless youth, children in hospitals and babies affected by drugs or poverty.

"Our nation's greatness is derived in large measure from its goodness – from the countless noble Americans whose commitment to helping others embodies the founding ideals of our democracy," said Sam Beard, co-founder and president of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service.  "The Jefferson Awards serve to celebrate those among us – some famous, though most anonymous – whose selflessness, altruism and generosity of spirit represent the best of America. Their tireless work not only improves lives within their communities, but serves to dignify our nation as a whole. We owe them our thanks and offer these congratulations."

2011 Jefferson recipients honored at the Washington, D.C., gala are:


Presented in four categories to individuals whose life's work has ennobled public service:

Greatest Public Service by an Elected Official – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, her long and distinguished career on the bench and in public service has been marked by a depth of intellect, abiding independence and an unwavering commitment to equal rights.

S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen – Bill Shore

The founder and executive director of Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit that has raised more than $280 million toward ending childhood hunger in America through partnerships with more than 1,000 hunger-relief organizations throughout the country.

Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged – Jerry M. Reinsdorf

The owner of both the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls for more than 20 years, his philanthropic efforts through the Chicago White Sox Charities and CharitaBulls have resulted in the donation of millions of dollars toward improving the life of the Chicagoland community.

Samuel S. Beard Award for Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 and Under – Brittany and Robbie Bergquist

Co-founders of Cell Phones for Soldiers in 2004, the Massachusetts brother and sister (then ages 12 and 13) have raised close to $2 million and distributed more than 500,000 prepaid calling cards to U.S. soldiers serving overseas.



Presented to five "Unsung Heroes" for their extraordinary and selfless volunteer work in their community.


Sister Pat Aseltyne, Houston, Texas

The director of after-care at Casa de Esperanza, a Houston-based residential center that provides care for infants and young children affected by abuse, neglect or HIV/AIDS, Sister Pat provides a vital and compassionate link between the children and their reunited families.


Cloteal Davis, San Francisco, California

A former teacher and mother of eight, Ms. Davis and three other local moms created the West Oakland Health Center which has provided desperately needed healthcare to the community's underserved for 40 years. 


Jenny and Andy Czerkas, Madison, Wisconsin

Husband and wife, the Czerkas are the founders of The River Food Pantry, a community kitchen that serves home-cooked meals and distributes clothing to more than 25,000 families in need each year.


Rachel Muha, Columbus, Ohio

The mother of a murdered college student, Ms. Muha turned grief into love by establishing "Run the Race," a program that gives meaning and purpose to inner-city children so that they can have a brighter future than that of her son's killers.


Megan Johnson, Seattle, Washington

Born in South Korea and adopted when she was 7 months old, Megan founded Megan's Mission, Kids Helping Kids and From the Heart, organizations that provide necessities to homeless children, infants affected by drugs or poverty and hospitalized kids



Presented to two exceptional individuals whose volunteer work reflects the deep and abiding commitment of their employers to making a different in the communities where their employees live and work.


John Cronin, Cold Spring, New York, Pace University

An environmental advocate for close to four decades, Mr. Cronin has served on the front lines of water-quality issues as a legislative aide, riverkeeper, and as the co-founder of the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic, a nationally acclaimed training program for law students and educators.


Alicia Ewen, Coconut Creek, Florida, Allstate Insurance Company

A tireless volunteer committed to helping build houses, Ms. Ewen has logged more than 850 hours over the past six years with the Broward County Habitat for Humanity as well as participated in home-building trips to Alabama and Thailand.




Presented to a single school whose exemplary program of student volunteerism has successfully instilled the values of service, leadership and ethics. 


Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois

Adlai E. Stevenson High was selected as the Outstanding Jefferson Awards High School from across the country. The students volunteered over 52,000 hours, a federally rated value exceeding 1 million dollars. In addition, the students raised over $250,000 to benefit local charities. 



Presented to professional athlete whose work in the community parallels their accomplishments in professional sports.


Outstanding Athlete in Service and Philanthropy – Warrick Dunn, Atlanta Falcons

A three-time Pro Bowl running back for the Atlanta Falcons and today a minority owner of the NFL team, Mr. Dunn is the founder of the Warrick Dunn Family Foundation. When Warrick was 18, his mother, a single parent, was tragically gunned down. Her ambition was to be the first home owner in her family. The Dunn Family Foundation pursues his mother's vision. It has helped over 100 single parents and their children become first time home owners.



2011 Jefferson honorees honored at the New York City luncheon are:



Marlo Thomas, actress, author, activist; New York, New York

Emmy-award-winning actress, best-selling author and member of the Broadcasting Hall of Fame, Ms. Thomas has broken new ground for decades for independent women through television's That Girl. She has served as the National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis where she has been the driving force behind campaigns that have raised millions of dollars to help improve the lives of countless children throughout the country.



Prudential Financial, Inc.; Newark, New Jersey

Throughout its more than 135-year history, Prudential, The Prudential Foundation and Prudential employees have been hard at work helping to build the communities where they live and work. Through various programs, Prudential has provided business expertise, financial assistance and employee volunteer service   to revitalize neighborhoods and invest in projects that benefit communities around the country and the world.  In addition, it has been a major player in the revitalization and enrichment of Newark, New Jersey, its headquarters.




William F. "Bill" Austin, Chief Executive Officer, Starkey Laboratories/Starkey Hearing Foundation; Eden Prairie, Minnesota

The CEO of Starkey Laboratories, one of the world's leading providers of in-the-ear hearing aids and the founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Mr. Austin has worked to provide 375,000 hearing aids to those in need throughout the world. The Starkey Foundation continues to deliver more than 50,000 hearing aids annually through more than 100 hearing missions.



Talia Lemon,  founder, RandomKid; Waukee, Iowa

Having raised more than $10 million for the victims of Hurricane Katrina through online social networking, Talia took her drive to help others one step further by founding RandomKid, a website that has harnessed the power of more than 12 million youth from 20 countries to take on a variety of causes around the world. 


Shashin Chokshi, Morgan Hartley, Greg Nance, co-founders, Moneythink; Chicago, Illinois

Juniors and seniors at the University of Chicago, Chokshi, Hartley and Nance founded Moneythink, a financial literacy and entrepreneurship program that offers inner-city high school students mentors and a roadmap for economic success. Their turnkey system now involves 15 universities across the country.


The 2011 gala awards ceremony, sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Deloitte and PhRMA, will take place at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and at Le Cirque in New York City. 

Powered by Frankly