Co-founded by former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as a “Nobel Prize” for public servants, the awards now enter their 39th year
New York, NY (PRWEB) June 28, 2011
Sixteen-year-old Iowa social entrepreneur Talia Leman today joins the ranks of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actress Marlo Thomas and sports team owner Jerry Reinsdorf as a recipient of the 2011 National Jefferson Awards, along with fourteen other national public servants.
Co-founded by former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as a “Nobel Prize” for public servants, the awards now enter their 39th year. Robert Kennedy’s daughter, Kerry Kennedy presided over the ceremony, conducted at the famed New York eatery, Le Cirque.
In her acceptance speech, Leman told the audience that her Jewish grandfather, who fled from Europe after surviving the Holocaust, had cleaned houses upon arriving in America. One of the houses he cleaned belonged to co-honoree Marlo Thomas, and another to her father, Danny Thomas. The audience was audibly shocked and awed.
Referring to the name of Thomas’ TV show in the late 1960s, Leman added, “Now, two generations later, That Girl, the star actress, and this girl, the granddaughter of a cleaning crew, are recipients of this same award. Which means anyone can make a difference, especially in a land of freedom and opportunity.” And the crowd went wild.
Talia Leman was honored for her unprecedented ability to develop ideas, strategies and networks to encourage all children to increase their impact on causes across the globe.
In 2005 at just 10 years old, Talia was extremely touched by the devastation and need after Hurricane Katrina. Talia took to her computer to rally youth through creative online networking and any other means she could find. Reaching out to 4,000 U.S. school districts, her efforts raised $10.4 million and ranked the giving power of U.S. schoolchildren on par with the top five U.S. corporate donors.
Yearning to harness that power for other issues, Talia co-founded RandomKid, a unique nonprofit that empowers any and all youth to solve real problems by collaborating their efforts with their peers to transcend boundaries of culture, race, ability and geography to address global causes.
Through networking and the RandomKid website, Talia unified the efforts of 12 million youth from 20 different countries, bringing aid to four continents for a plethora of various projects. Their achievements include funding water-pumping technologies serving villages in Africa, Asia, South and Central America; funding a school in Cambodia; refurbishing a school and rebuilding a home in post-Katrina Louisiana; and providing crutches and artificial limbs to Haitian children.
It is the unique community pool Talia created that enables RandomKid’s comprehensive scope and outreach, and from which funding is made possible. Ten percent of every dollar raised by the pool goes into new youth ventures to entice innovation and promote different causes. Talia's platform is world-renowned and the United Nations recognizes it as one of nine international organizations identified as a premier model for promoting peace.
In addition to networking, Talia also continues to inspire people around the world by leading power assemblies, doling out seed funds to help jump-start other philanthropic ventures, organizing web conferences between youth internationally, mentoring her peers in successful strategies for achieving their benevolent goals and by giving talks about the power of anyone in her speaking engagements in conjunction with International Speakers Bureau.
Talia has been honored with numerous international awards. UNICEF appointed her first known National Youth Ambassador, "Character Counts" spotlighted her as one of the world's top 48 People of Character, and the World of Children Founder’s bestowed upon her the Youth Award, regarded to be the "Nobel Prize” for efforts that serve the world’s children. The Today Show twice featured Talia and the United Nations named RandomKid a Champion of Intercultural Innovation.
Simon and Schuster will publish a book written by Talia in the Spring of 2012.