Tow, Leonard

Tow, Leonard

Medal Citation: 2019 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

Andrew Carnegie believed that the greatest gift of his philanthropy was the ability “to provide part of the means by which those who desire to improve may do so.” Through his philanthropy, Leonard Tow advocates for society’s most vulnerable, funding vital programs that strengthen communities and provide individuals with the opportunity for self-advancement.

As a young man, Dr. Tow set his sights beyond his working-class neighborhood during his studies at Brooklyn College. While there he met his wife, Claire, and earned a bachelor’s degree. He went on to obtain a PhD in economic geography from Columbia University.

After teaching for several years, Dr. Tow left academia for the private sector. His business ventures took him to far-flung locales in Africa, South Asia, and Europe. In the mid-1960s, he began working in the then-nascent cable industry, where he demonstrated his business acumen by helping to expand one early cable TV company’s customer base from 50,000 to 1 million subscribers over the course of several years.

Eventually, Dr. Tow decided to strike out on his own, starting Century Communications in the early 1970s with $22,000 and a line of credit. By 1999, it had grown to become the nation’s fifth-largest cable television company. After selling Century Communications, Dr. Tow decided to focus on growing the foundation he and his wife had earlier established.

Today, The Tow Foundation strives to help those in greatest need. It pursues that goal by supporting four grant-making domains: criminal and juvenile justice reform, medical research, higher education, and culture.

Through this multifaceted philanthropic approach, the foundation aims to promote racial equity, helping others to “achieve success in their own lives, to alleviate pain and suffering, and to offer opportunities for joy.” That commitment is exemplified at New York City’s renowned Public Theater, where the foundation supports multiple projects, including a dynamic partnership with Brooklyn College and a Mobile Unit that brings the Public’s programs into prisons, shelters, and community centers across the city’s five boroughs.

One of The Tow Foundation’s overarching goals is to reform the criminal justice system as well as to help former prisoners reintegrate into society through education, leadership development, employment, health care, housing, and arts programs.

Under the visionary leadership of Dr. Tow and the late Claire Tow, the foundation became and remains a champion for the dignity of the incarcerated. Today, the foundation continues to be a powerful expression of Dr. Tow’s determination to help build “a society where all people have the opportunity to enjoy a high quality of life and have a voice in their community.”

The Selection Committee believes that Andrew Carnegie would commend Dr. Tow’s support for self-empowerment and his vision of a more just world.

The Carnegie family of institutions is privileged to welcome Dr. Leonard Tow as a recipient of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Acceptance Speech Video: October 16, 2019 Awards Ceremony

Photos: October 16, 2019 Awards Ceremony

Year

Affiliation

The Tow Foundation

Hobson, Mellody and George Lucas

Hobson, Mellody and George Lucas

Medal Citation: 2019 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

In The Gospel of Wealth, Andrew Carnegie wrote that the privileged are capable of organizing “benefactions from which the masses will derive lasting advantage.” Through their philanthropy, Mellody Hobson and George Lucas invest in education, arts, and culture to counter disadvantage, with programs promoting personal development, scholastic achievement, and professional accomplishment.

Like Andrew Carnegie, Mr. Lucas describes education as the “foundation of our democracy and a stepping-stone for youth to reach their full potential.” The legendary filmmaker credits his undergraduate education at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts with giving him the right tools to flourish in a competitive industry, while a degree from Princeton University propelled Mellody Hobson from modest origins to become the co-CEO and co-president of Ariel Investments. Together, the director and the preeminent investor have designated the George Lucas Family Foundation as the vehicle for committing their combined talents and resources to the betterment of society.

In 1991, Mr. Lucas established the George Lucas Educational Foundation, with the aim of transforming K–12 education through project-based, social-emotional learning, comprehensive assessment, teacher development, integrated studies and technology. The foundation’s mission is for all students to “acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to thrive in their studies, careers, and adult lives.”

In addition to her philanthropic work, Ms. Hobson also chairs After School Matters, a nonprofit whose quality programs encourage the intellectual and creative expression of inner-city teens in Chicago, while also ensuring their outstanding academic achievement. Its Freshmen On-Track program has a remarkable record of supporting student success: 90 percent of participants graduate from high school — 11 percentage points higher than the state’s average graduation rate for low-income students.

Education is a cornerstone of the George Lucas Family Foundation, but its philanthropic efforts extend much further. Acknowledging the extraordinary stresses and demands placed on those with socioeconomic disadvantages, a results-focused approach meets the wide-ranging needs of the people it serves. Together, Ms. Hobson and Mr. Lucas support organizations that are making the world healthier, safer, and more vibrant, including childhood development and mentorship programs, gun control and environmental advocacy groups, museums and cultural institutions, as well as medical institutions.

The Selection Committee believes that Andrew Carnegie would applaud the generous investment in disadvantaged communities made by Ms. Hobson and Mr. Lucas, benefiting generations to come.

The Carnegie family of institutions is honored to welcome Mellody Hobson and George Lucas as recipients of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Acceptance Speech Video: October 16, 2019 Awards Ceremony

Photos: October 16, 2019 Awards Ceremony

Year

Affiliation

George Lucas Family Foundation

Earhart, Anne G.

Earhart, Anne G.

Medal Citation: 2019 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

Andrew Carnegie passionately advocated doing “real and permanent good in the world.” Anne Earhart’s unwavering allegiance to that ideal began with investments to improve the lives and well-being of disadvantaged women; she later expanded her efforts and funds to focus on environmental issues. Her dedication to that cause reflects an understanding of the existential importance of protecting our natural resources, but it is also personal — she grew up loving the outdoors and wants to ensure that nature is preserved for future generations.

The ocean played an integral role in Ms. Earhart’s upbringing and, as with many Los Angeles families, sunny days were frequently spent at the beach with loved ones. The setting offered a picturesque backdrop for this joyful period in her life. Then, on a trip to Baja California, her boat encountered a group of gray whales at sea. The breathtaking display planted the seeds for Ms. Earhart’s life’s calling, and indelibly marked the beginning of her journey to environmental philanthropy.

When Ms. Earhart married a forester and moved to South America, she witnessed devastating environmental destruction in Paraguay and Brazil firsthand. In response, she learned as much as she could about environmental issues and began engaging with leaders in the field of conservation. Upon her return to the U.S., she committed to the cause in earnest by joining the board of the World Wildlife Fund, where she developed an intense appreciation for biodiversity.

Although her giving initially focused on supporting health and human services organizations in Southern California, her commitment to environmental causes gradually reshaped the Marisla Foundation into a conservationist powerhouse. Today, it provides substantial and consistent funding to more than 600 nonprofits with missions focused on addressing global environmental challenges. Grantees include Oceans 5, Plastic Solutions Fund, Partners for a New Economy, and the Health and Environmental Funders Network.

Reflecting Ms. Earhart’s lifelong love of the ocean, Marisla has emerged as a particularly effective leader in marine conservation, working strategically to mitigate habitat destruction, pollution, and overfishing. Because saving the world’s oceans is too monumental an undertaking for a single foundation, Marisla forged dynamic partnerships with several other foundations committed to that cause. Together, they created Oceana, the first major nonprofit committed to the restoration and protection of the world’s oceans. Thus far, Ms. Earhart’s philanthropy has helped preserve 4.5 million square miles (and counting) of ocean.

Marisla’s leadership on environmental health issues also has roots in Ms.Earhart’s personal experience. After becoming a mother, she began learning about the ill-effects of environmental pollutants on children. Today, Marisla invests heavily in organizations seeking solutions to health threats caused by toxic chemicals. The foundation also supports organizations like Environmental Health News, which helps experts educate journalists and the public about environmental health issues.

This extraordinary range of accomplishment places Anne Earhart prominently within the ranks of today’s great conservationists. Modestly, she credits her schooling at the hands of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart for instilling the values and conscience that make her work possible, and her early encounter with that pod of gray whales for igniting her passion for protecting our planet.

The Selection Committee believes that Andrew Carnegie would have been inspired by the spirit, tenacity, and scope of Ms. Earhart’s philanthropic efforts to save the world’s food chain, oxygen, and way of life.

The Carnegie family of institutions is privileged to welcome Anne G. Earhart as a recipient of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Acceptance Speech Video: October 16, 2019 Awards Ceremony

Photos: October 16, 2019 Awards Ceremony

Year

Affiliation

Marisla Foundation

Mandel, Morton L.

Mandel, Morton L.

Medal Citation: 2019 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

Throughout his career Morton Mandel has made it a priority to “invest in people with the values, ability, and passion to change the world.” By developing the next generation of innovators, creators, and achievers, Mr. Mandel echoes Andrew Carnegie, who observed in 1908: “It is the leaders who do the new things that count.” Perhaps like Carnegie, the educational and leadership initiatives supported by this successful, self-made businessman also reflect an understanding of what it takes to rise from humble beginnings to great success.

Privilege did not come easily to Mr. Mandel, but the hardships of his youth imbued him with the importance of family, a strong work ethic, and an abiding allegiance to a civil society. Growing up, he witnessed the remarkable sacrifices of his working mother to ensure the dignity of others in their community. Such selflessness and self-reliance became hallmarks of Mr. Mandel’s philanthropy.

After high school, Mr. Mandel enrolled in Adelbert College, now Case Western Reserve University, but left before completing his degree to join his brothers Jack and Joseph to co-found Premier Automotive Supply Co. After enlisting in the Army in World War II, Mr. Mandel was offered the opportunity to study engineering at Pomona College and UC-Berkeley as part of his military service. Just 16 hours short of a degree in chemistry, he separated from the Army and chose to rejoin his brothers at their company.

Mr. Mandel later became chairman and CEO of their company. Together, the Mandels made astute business decisions and the company grew rapidly, eventually becoming a publicly traded company in 1960. Recognizing their good fortune, Mr. Mandel and his brothers wanted to give back. In 1953, they established the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation to broaden, formalize, and add structure to the generous giving that by then had become second nature for the trio.

The foundation is committed to fostering “just, inclusive, compassionate, and democratic societies” in the United States and Israel. Its strategic approach is based on investments in people with the will and the talent to change the world for the better, cultivating leaders who can rise to the demands of complex times.

Since his brothers passed away, Morton Mandel has made it his mission to sustain and expand the impact of their foundation. As part of that effort, he has established the Mandel Center for the Humanities at Brandeis University and the Mandel School for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The foundation also awarded a generous grant for a new building and programs for the Mandel Institute for Social Leadership at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Recently the foundation awarded a substantial grant to the Cleveland Clinic to establish the Mandel Global Leadership and Learning Institute. The impact of Mr. Mandel’s giving is seen not only through those institutions, but through their alumni, who are making a difference in fields ranging from education to health care, and beyond.

In addition to the philanthropic activities of his foundation, Mr. Mandel and his wife, Barbara, also give generously as a couple. In 2018, the Mandels bolstered the capital of their foundation by selling their highly valued art collection at Sotheby’s. The proceeds of the sale have been used to further advance the foundation’s philanthropic goals.

Mr. Mandel’s unwavering belief in the value of leadership and education can also be seen his own life: he made the ambitious decision to return to Case Western Reserve University, where, in 2013, he completed the bachelor’s degree that he had started 75 years earlier.

The Selection Committee applauds Morton Mandel’s exceptional tradition of giving and believes his efforts to better society reflect the spirit of Andrew Carnegie’s philosophy.

The Carnegie family of institutions is honored to welcome Morton Mandel as a recipient of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Acceptance Speech Video: October 16, 2019 Awards Ceremony

Photos: October 16, 2019 Awards Ceremony

Year

Affiliation

Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation

Kravis, Marie-Josée and Henry R.

Kravis, Marie-Josée and Henry R.

Medal Citation: 2019 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

Andrew Carnegie once said, “Surplus wealth is a sacred trust which its possessor is bound to administer in his lifetime for the good of the community.” Marie-Josée Kravis, a prominent economist who also serves as vice chair and senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, and Henry R. Kravis, one of the pioneers of private equity investment, are paragons of Carnegie’s philosophy of giving.

The Kravises stand among today’s most active philanthropists, and their generosity spans diverse interests, including education, arts and culture, community development, healthcare, and science. Their magnanimity has touched many causes, enriching and improving lives in New York and across the country.

Throughout their careers, the Kravises have been deeply involved as both benefactors and leaders of the institutions they support. Ms. Kravis’s philanthropic commitments include chairing the Sloan Kettering Institute and presiding over the Marie-Josée Kravis Prize for New Music, one of the world’s most prestigious awards for emerging composers. For 14 years, she served as the president of the board of trustees of the Museum of Modern Art.

Mr. Kravis takes time from his role as co-CEO of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., the global investment firm that he cofounded in 1976, to chair Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, a free eight-year program providing low-income youth with academic support and mentoring. The nonprofit prepares underserved public high school students for college, initially by helping them with the college application process and later supporting their studies and career development to ensure they meet their academic and professional goals. Under Mr. Kravis’s extraordinary leadership, the organization has achieved a phenomenal track record of getting students to-and-through college: 100 percent of participants earn admission to college and 90 percent graduate from college, results that far outpace the current countrywide graduation rate.

Together, the Kravises endowed a cutting-edge Center for Molecular Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering, which aims to revolutionize cancer care through individualized therapies derived from the tumors of patients. They’ve also funded a transformational research center at Rockefeller University, where Mr. Kravis has also served as vice chair. The Kravis Leadership Institute at Claremont McKenna College runs leadership and social innovation workshops, conferences, and programs, as well as supporting innovative leadership research.

The Selection Committee believes that Andrew Carnegie would have marveled at the impact and spirit of the Kravises’ philanthropy, and their passionate engagement in its administration.

The Carnegie family of institutions is privileged to welcome Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis as recipients of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Acceptance Speech Video: October 16, 2019 Awards Ceremony

Photos: October 16, 2019 Awards Ceremony

Year

Affiliation

The Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Foundation

Wood KT GBE, Sir Ian

Wood KT GBE, Sir Ian

Medal Citation: 2019 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

In The Gospel of Wealth, Andrew Carnegie described how the privileged class could benefit society by creating “ladders upon which the aspiring can rise.” The life-changing impact of Sir Ian Wood’s philanthropy exemplifies that principle, offering hope that extends from the classrooms of Scotland to the fields of sub-Saharan Africa.

Accolades have followed businessman Sir Ian Wood since his early days starting out in his family’s fishing business in Aberdeen, Scotland. His far-ranging vision helped grow the modest outfit serving a local community into a behemoth energy company employing 43,000 people in diversified operations in more than 50 countries. As chairman and chief executive, Sir Ian took the Wood Group public in 2002, eventually leading it to become listed in the UK FTSE 100 index.

Already a benefactor to public works projects in Scotland, Sir Ian decided to retire from the Wood Group in 2012 in order to commit fully to the work of The Wood Foundation, which he had established with his family in 2007.

According to Sir Ian, “We all have an underlying responsibility in this world for each other,” and The Wood Foundation is his vehicle for carrying out that mission. In Tanzania and Rwanda, The Wood Foundation’s Venture Philanthropy Transforming Livelihoods in Africa stream of activity has extended long-term credit to 70,000 smallholder tea farmers, while providing in-depth operational and marketing support that has enabled those farmers to expand their tea fields and their earnings. The foundation also operates field schools that help 3,000 new farmers annually to develop essential agronomic skills. Through this work, The Wood Foundation Africa has significantly enhanced the production and quality of tea produced in both Tanzania and Rwanda, while building the infrastructure and markets to ensure that the industry is sustainable.

The Wood Foundation’s Developing Young People in Scotland portfolio is cultivating the next generation of active citizens to contribute to the country’s future social and economic well-being. Working with local schools, the foundation has benefited thousands of young people by offering training in enterprise and employability skills, creating meaningful STEM learning opportunities, and alleviating child and youth poverty. Its Youth and Philanthropy Initiative takes a novel approach to encouraging young people to play a leadership role in giving back within their own communities. Each year, more than 35,000 young people take a hands-on role in channeling the foundation’s resources to local charities, developing confidence and communication skills while making a difference in their communities.

The Wood Foundation is also responsible for establishing Scotland’s first private-sector-led economic development body, Opportunity North East (ONE), which aims to spark an economic renaissance in Sir Ian Wood’s home of Aberdeen City and Shire. ONE provides business and skills development and fosters technological innovation, including strategies to realize the potential of digital. It also invests heavily in people through the provision of education, training, and resources that equip local residents to thrive in a transforming economy. These initiatives are already beginning to accelerate economic growth in northeast Scotland.

Sir Ian has received many honors throughout his career, including Britain’s highest civil honor, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE), as well as the Queen’s highest honor, Knight Companion of the Order of the Thistle (KT).

The Selection Committee believes that Andrew Carnegie would celebrate the indisputable “ladders” to self-empowerment created by his fellow Scotsman,
Sir Ian.

The Carnegie family of institutions is honored to welcome Sir Ian Wood as a recipient of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Acceptance Speech Video: October 16, 2019 Awards Ceremony

Photos: October 16, 2019 Awards Ceremony

Year

Affiliation

The Wood Foundation

Smith, Robert F.

Smith, Robert F.

Medal Citation: 2019 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

In The Gospel of Wealth, Andrew Carnegie directed the wealthy to do “what is practicable now, with the next step possible in our day and generation” to address the problems of the world. Robert F. Smith’s bold philanthropy aligns directly with Carnegie’s vision, as evidenced by his strategic investments in society and his powerful appeals for others to join him in giving back to their communities.

The value of education was instilled in Robert Smith from a young age. His parents both earned PhDs and worked as teachers before becoming high school principals. Following in their footsteps, Mr. Smith received his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Cornell and then earned an MBA from Columbia University.

After business school, Mr. Smith joined Goldman Sachs, where he rose to become co-head of Enterprise Systems and Storage at the investment bank in Silicon Valley. In 2000 he left to set up his private equity and venture capital firm, Vista Equity Partners. As founder, chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity, now the fourth-largest enterprise software company in the world, Mr. Smith oversees a portfolio of over 60 software companies and more than $50 billion of cumulative capital commitments.

Mr. Smith’s philanthropy honors the sacrifices and contributions of his parents, grandparents, and African American ancestors who paved the way for his remarkable achievements. His giving includes significant support for the educational and professional advancement of African Americans. That commitment was made manifest during a recent commencement speech at Morehouse College, in which he shocked the entire assembly by announcing a grant to eliminate the student loan debt of the 2019 graduating class. Mr. Smith used the occasion to encourage students to give back to their communities and to “make sure that every class has the same opportunity going forward.”

While that life-changing gift earned worldwide attention, it is only one example of Mr. Smith’s generosity. He also champions the vital role of the arts by funding music education programs for K–12 students and through his involvement in Carnegie Hall, where he has served as the chair of the board of trustees since 2016. He is also president and founding director of Fund II Foundation, which supports a range of initiatives like InternX to create opportunity for underrepresented minorities entering the workforce. The foundation also contributes generously in the fields of health, the environment, and human rights.

Mr. Smith’s devotion to preserving and sharing stories of the African American experience prompted him to make the largest private donation to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The Fund II Foundation also sponsored the groundbreaking “1619 Project” published by the New York Times. Through these efforts, Mr. Smith aims to lift up and celebrate the vital contributions of African Americans to our nation, to show that “African Americans are at the center of it all.”

The Selection Committee believes that Andrew Carnegie would admire Mr. Smith’s emphasis on education and support for current and future generations.

The Carnegie family of institutions is honored to welcome Robert F. Smith as a recipient of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Acceptance Speech Video: October 16, 2019 Awards Ceremony

Photos: October 16, 2019 Awards Ceremony

Year

Affiliation

Fund II Foundation

Wolfensohn, Sir James D.

Sir James D. Wolfensohn

Year

Affiliation

Areas of Focus

Humanities | Sciences | Arts and Culture

Medal Citation: 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

The life of James Wolfensohn has been characterized by principled leadership, compassion, and generosity. Like Andrew Carnegie before him, as a reformer Mr. Wolfensohn takes to heart the maxim that democracy and excellence are not mutually exclusive.

The remarkable attributes that led to Mr. Wolfensohn’s achievements emerged at an early age. Born in Sydney, Australia, to a loving and cultured family of modest means, he entered high school at the age of 10 and college at 15. He joined the fencing team during his later years at university, strictly to fulfill the prerequisite for a sixth teammate at national championships. This (initially passive) membership led to a steadfast commitment, eventually earning him a place on the 1956 Australian Olympic fencing team. He went on to receive a BA and an LLB from the University of Sydney, serve as an officer in the Royal Australian Air Force, and earn an MBA from Harvard University. These accomplishments all contributed to the formation of the strong character for which Mr. Wolfensohn would become world renowned.

He began his career practicing law in Sydney, and returned there to transition into banking after graduating from Harvard. His rise in the field took him to London and, eventually, New York, where he was a senior executive at Salomon Brothers. In 1980 he became a naturalized U.S. citizen and established his own investment firm, James D. Wolfensohn, Inc. Beyond his career in business, his philanthropy has benefitted numerous cultural and social causes, both in the United States and abroad. He has also donated his time to a range of organizations. As chairman of Carnegie Hall, he worked with the hall’s president, Isaac Stern, to return the New York City landmark to its former glory, spearheading renovations and securing the financial stability of the world-famous auditorium. He did much the same for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as chairman helping to relieve that institution’s financial woes. And he committed more than 30 years of insightful leadership to the Institute for Advanced Study, where he now serves as chairman emeritus. Undeterred by convention, Mr. Wolfensohn applies himself in unexpected directions, for example taking up the cello—and becoming proficient in the instrument—at the age of 50. Years later he would remark that he advanced in life without any self-imposed limitations.

In 1995 Mr. Wolfensohn was named president of the World Bank, further raising his profile in the international community. He astonished many with a courageous campaign against widespread corruption in both developing and developed countries. He implemented new policies requiring bank representatives to build close and respectful relationships with the impoverished member nations it supported. He is one of the few World Bank presidents to have served two terms, and his decade-long tenure was characterized by an unwavering defense of the underprivileged. Throughout his time at the World Bank, Mr. Wolfensohn continued to give quietly to a range of philanthropic causes that were as varied as his own interests.

Mr. Wolfensohn has earned numerous honors and awards over the course of his illustrious career. In 2005 he was named Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement by President George W. Bush. His honors include the Knighthood of the Order of the British Empire (KBE), the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun of Japan, the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and the award of Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).

As a philanthropist, public servant, and humanitarian, Mr. Wolfensohn has demonstrated a record of philanthropy that upholds Andrew Carnegie’s lofty vision of giving and service. The Carnegie family of institutions is enormously privileged to include Sir James D. Wolfensohn among the recipients of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Acceptance Speech Video: October 3, 2017 Awards Ceremony

Photos: October 3, 2017 Awards Ceremony

White, Shelby

Shelby White

Year

Affiliation

Areas of Focus

Ancient World | Art and Humanities | Nature and Gardens | Neuroscience | Human Rights | Jewish Culture

Medal Citation: 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

Shelby White’s extraordinary philanthropic accomplishments extend across as wide a range as Andrew Carnegie’s own philanthropy. Ms. White’s interests include education, libraries, museums, archaeology, parks, science, and the arts and humanities, and the multifaceted breadth of her giving is ever evolving.

Ms. White was raised in Brooklyn, New York, in an immigrant household. Her parents’ support for the needy, including refugees from Nazi Germany, made a lasting impression on the young girl. As a nine-year-old she used a Camp Fire Girls donut sale to help a neighborhood nursery. Her childhood experiences and her thirst for knowledge proved invaluable as she earned a bachelor’s degree at Mount Holyoke College and a master’s at Columbia University. She then married investment banker Rodney L. White. After her husband passed away in 1969, Ms. White began a career in financial journalism. By then a budding philanthropist, she would later donate the Rodney White Country Garden to The New York Botanical Garden.

In 1983 Ms. White married Leon Levy, the renowned financier and philanthropist who in the 1950s had founded the Jerome Levy Foundation, named after his father, which focused on academic freedom and civil liberties. Shelby White and Leon Levy both believed ardently in the importance of giving, and the couple became a philanthropic force. Their passion for ancient civilizations led to the establishment of the Shelby White and Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications at Harvard University, and they sponsored the excavations of Ashkelon, Israel. Their love for the arts resulted in the creation of the Shelby White and Leon Levy Travel Grants at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, which enable graduate students to travel the world to study original works of art. The couple also donated the Leon Levy and Shelby White Court to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the centerpiece of the museum’s new Greek and Roman Galleries. During their years together, Shelby White and Leon Levy expanded their support to other areas, including economics, neuroscience, human rights, and civil liberties.

Following Mr. Levy’s death in 2003, Ms. White established the Leon Levy Foundation; their daughter, Tracy White, is now an active participant in the foundation. Known for its creativity and innovation, the foundation supports the preservation, understanding, and expansion of knowledge across a wide range of fields, from neuroscience to the humanities. Initiatives include the Leon Levy Neuroscience Fellowship Program, which funds the research of young scientists, and in 2006 the foundation established the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University.

The Leon Levy Foundation supports projects to which the couple has personal connections, such as an archival grant to the New York Philharmonic. (Mr. Levy worked as an usher at Philharmonic concerts during his student years at City College of New York.) In addition the couple both loved nature, so Ms. White established the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, where they had long owned a home; the preserve is the first national park on that island. The foundation also supports the cultural institutions of Brooklyn, including Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Public Library.

Ms. White serves on the boards of The New York Botanical Garden, the Institute for Advanced Study, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York University, Bard Graduate Center, and The Writers Room. She is also chairman of the American Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Mr. Levy summed up his philosophy of philanthropy concisely: “I tend to take a long view…. I prefer to give money to pursue a concept or idea…. All we can do is try to leave a legacy of good works.” His philosophy continues to underlie the giving of the Leon Levy Foundation.

We are certain Ms. White’s remarkable achievements at the Leon Levy Foundation would astonish both Leon Levy and Andrew Carnegie. The Carnegie family of institutions is privileged to welcome Shelby White as a recipient of the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Acceptance Speech Video: October 3, 2017 Awards Ceremony

Photos: October 3, 2017 Awards Ceremony

Tompkins, Kristine McDivitt

Kristine McDivitt Tompkins

Year

Affiliation

Areas of Focus

Conservation

Medal Citation: 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

In The Gospel of Wealth, Andrew Carnegie places parks in “the very front rank of benefactions,” praising their positive effects on body and spirit. Continuing Douglas Tompkins’s vision, Kristine McDivitt Tompkins has made immeasurable advances toward the preservation and restoration of the world’s great ecosystems, bringing to life Mr. Carnegie’s words more than he could have imagined.

Mrs. Tompkins has always been connected to the outdoors. Raised most of her life on a ranch in southern California, as a teenager she spent summers working for Chouinard Equipment, a rock climbing equipment company, and skied competitively at the College of Idaho. After graduation she returned to Chouinard Equipment and helped its founder grow his operation into Patagonia, the world-renowned outdoor apparel leader and “anti-corporation.” As CEO over a 20-year period, Mrs. Tompkins was widely credited with the company’s values-driven business practices and activism on behalf of the wilderness it celebrates.

In 1993 Mrs. Tompkins retired from Patagonia and married Doug Tompkins, founder of The North Face and cofounder of Esprit. With a shared passion for the outdoors, the two embarked upon a crusade that would push boundaries, raise standards, and, ultimately, make history. The result was Tompkins Conservation, a powerhouse of initiatives that lends unwavering commitment to parks and their restoration, along with sustainable agriculture and environmental activism.

Tragically, Mr. Tompkins died in a kayaking accident in 2015. Despite this loss, his wife has courageously driven their movement forward with outstanding accomplishments. In March 2017, for example, Mrs. Tompkins and Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile, signed a pledge to expand that country’s national park system by approximately 10 million acres. This unprecedented act is the largest land donation ever made by a private individual to a nation. In addition, Mrs. Tompkins has bestowed upon Argentina hundreds of thousands of acres of parklands. These gifts, however, did not come without conditions. Both countries are obligated to actively restore, preserve, and nurture these unspoiled landscapes and their biodiversity in perpetuity. The parklands must also be staffed by a locally sourced workforce to energize the regional economy.

Mrs. Tompkins continues her tireless struggle for conservation. Her gifts to Argentina and Chile are a critical step toward helping those countries to create world-class national park systems, which will continue to benefit visitors from all over the world for generations to come. By protecting the environment that she has always loved, Mrs. Tompkins has become a force of nature in her own right, and the Carnegie family of institutions is honored to recognize her extraordinary accomplishments and generosity with the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.

Acceptance Speech Video: October 3, 2017 Awards Ceremony

Photos: October 3, 2017 Awards Ceremony