Jefferson Awards Foundation Names Arne Duncan, Sean Parker, Kyle Zimmer and Sophia Sanchez-Maes National Public Service Award Honorees for 2016

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The annual awards ceremony will be held on June 16, 2016 in Washington D.C.

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The Jefferson Awards Foundation is proud to continue in the tradition of our namesake as we recognize the incredible achievements of these individuals.

The Jefferson Awards Foundation, America’s gold seal of public service, will honor this year’s most outstanding public service achievers during its annual gala in Washington, D.C. The event, held in the Grand Ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on June 16, 2016, will recognize and celebrate students, grassroots public service individuals and companies making a difference in their own communities and the world.

“The Jefferson Awards Foundation is proud to continue in the tradition of our namesake as we recognize the incredible achievements of these individuals,“ said Hillary Schafer, Executive Director of The Jefferson Awards Foundation. “We hope that we can be a beacon for others who wish to contribute to their own communities, and that our honorees will help to activate these initiatives.”

Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will receive the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Outstanding Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official at the ceremony for his unflinching work and support of the U.S. educational system. Previous recipients of the award include: former Arizona politician Gabrielle Giffords, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor and politician and sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Sophia Sanchez-Maes, will be honored with the award for Outstanding Service by an Individual 25 or Under. Sanchez-Maes’ research on algae biofuel and her work to pioneer a new process that produces a positive energy yield earned her national recognition. Previous recipients of the under 25 award include the Kid President team, 2015 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Patrick Ip and Vision For and From Kids founder Lillian Pravda.

Silicon Valley philanthropist and entrepreneur Sean Parker will be presented with the S. Roger Horchow Award for Outstanding Public Service by a Private Citizen. In June 2015, Parker, founding president of Facebook and co-founder of Napster, launched the Parker Foundation with a $600 million gift to build on more than a decade of support for cancer research, global public health and civic engagement. In April of this year, the Parker Foundation announced a $250 million grant to create the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, an unprecedented collaboration between the country’s leading immunologists and cancer centers — Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Stanford University, UCLA, UCSF, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the University of Pennsylvania. He will join the ranks of previous recipients of this award including comedian Bob Hope, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and founder of Charles Best.

Kyle Zimmer, President and CEO of First Book, will receive the award for Outstanding Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged for her tireless work to further equal access to quality education for children from low-income families. Zimmer co-founded the nonprofit social enterprise First Book to ensure that under-resourced schools and community programs across the country serving children in need have a steady supply of the brand-new, high-quality books, educational materials and basic items that are critical for learning. Previous award winners include: Marian Wright Edelman, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Geoffrey Canada.

At the gala, sponsored by Vodaphone, CLEARSIGHT ADVISORS and United Steelworkers, the Jefferson Awards Foundation will present awards to the top schools in its Students In Action program, and top employers in the Champions program. The foundation will also present awards to over 50 local Jefferson Awards winners who have made a significant and lasting impact in their individual communities. Five local JAF honorees will receive the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for Outstanding Public Service Benefiting Local Communities award, and two Champion program employees will receive the Outstanding Public Service by an Employee award.

To find out more information and the gala or purchase tickets, please visit:

About the Jefferson Awards Foundation
The Jefferson Awards Foundation (JAF) powers others to have maximum impact on the things they care about most. Through celebration, they inspire action. With programs and partnerships, they drive Americans to change their communities and the world. To learn more about the Jefferson Awards Foundation, visit: or engage with our community on Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, and Facebook.

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Tara Parsell
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