Honors and Prizes

Honors and Prizes

Each year at Commencement the University bestows honorary degrees on several esteemed individuals who exemplify the ideals of the University through their significant scholarly, artistic, or societal achievements or contributions. This is the highest honor the University can bestow on an individual, and the Trustees endeavor to ensure recognition for achievements across all of the various areas of study and fields of academia.

Honorary degrees are awarded in the following categories.

  • The Arts
  • The Humanities and Social Sciences
  • The Natural, Applied and Pure Sciences
  • Public Life and Government
  • Professor Emeritus/Emerita

Honorees do not need to be graduates of Columbia.

The University Medal for Excellence is also awarded at Commencement to an alumnus or alumna under 45 years of age whose record in scholarship, public service, and/or professional life is outstanding. Graduates from all divisions of the University, including Barnard College and Teachers College, are eligible for the Medal.

Please note that no honorary degree or University Medal for Excellence will be awarded to any person who is a full-time regular officer of the University. Neither the University Medal for Excellence nor honorary degrees are awarded in absentia.

THE DEADLINE FOR NOMINATIONS IS FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2024 (if you wish to submit a nomination, please use our online form). (Please note that we accept nominations all year round but submissions after this date will be considered for a future Commencement.)

Recent Honorees

  • Yo-Yo Ma’s multi-faceted career is a testament to his enduring belief in culture’s power to generate trust and understanding. Whether performing new or familiar works from the cello repertoire, collaborating with communities and institutions to explore culture’s role in society, or engaging unexpected musical forms, Ma strives to foster connections that stimulate the imagination and reinforce our humanity.

    In August 2018, Ma began a new journey to perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s six suites for solo cello in one sitting in 36 locations around the world, iconic venues that encompass our cultural heritage, our current creativity, and the challenges of peace and understanding that will shape our future. 

    The Bach Project continues his lifelong commitment to stretching the boundaries of genre and tradition to explore music as a means not only to share and express meaning, but also as his contribution to a conversation about how culture can help us imagine a stronger society and build a better future.

    It was this belief that inspired Ma to establish Silkroad, a collective of artists from around the world who create music that engages their many traditions. Through his work with Silkroad, as well as throughout his career, he has sought to expand the classical cello repertoire, frequently performing lesser-known music of the 20th century and commissions of new concertos and recital pieces. He has premiered works by a diverse group of composers, among them Osvaldo Golijov, Leon Kirchner, Zhao Lin, Christopher Rouse, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Giovanni Sollima, Bright Sheng, Tan Dun, and John Williams.

    In addition to his work as a performing artist, Ma partners with communities and institutions from Chicago to Guangzhou developing programs that champion culture’s power to transform lives and forge a more connected world. Among his many roles, Ma is as a UN Messenger of Peace, the first artist ever appointed to the World Economic Forum’s board of trustees, and a member of the board of Nia Tero, the US-based nonprofit working in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and movements worldwide.

    Ma’s discography of over 100 albums (including 18 Grammy Award winners) reflects his wide-ranging interests. In addition to his many iconic renditions of the Western classical canon, he has made several recordings that defy categorization, among them “Appalachia Waltz” and “Appalachian Journey” with Mark O’Connor and Edgar Meyer, and two Grammy-winning tributes to the music of Brazil, “Obrigado Brazil” and “Obrigado Brazil — Live in Concert.” His recent recordings include: “Sing Me Home,” with the Silkroad Ensemble, which won the 2016 Grammy for Best World Music Album; “Brahms: The Piano Trios,” with Emanuel Ax and Leonidas Kavakos; “Six Evolutions — Bach: Cello Suites;” and “Not Our First Goat Rodeo,” with Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile. His latest album is “Beethoven for Three: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 5” recorded with Emanuel Ax and Leonidas Kavakos.

    Ma was born in 1955 to Chinese parents living in Paris. He began to study the cello with his father at age four and three years later moved with his family to New York City, where he continued his cello studies with Leonard Rose at the Juilliard School. After his conservatory training, he sought out a liberal arts education, graduating from Harvard University in 1976. He has received numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize (1978), the Glenn Gould Prize (1999), the National Medal of the Arts (2001), the Dan David Prize (2006), the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award (2008), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010), Kennedy Center Honors (2011), the Polar Music Prize (2012), and the J. Paul Getty Medal Award (2016). Furthermore, he has performed for nine American presidents, most recently on the occasion of President Biden’s inauguration. 

    Ma and his wife have two children. He plays three instruments, a 2003 instrument made by Moes & Moes, a 1733 Montagnana cello from Venice, and the 1712 Davidoff Stradivarius.

  • William Kentridge is internationally acclaimed for his drawings, films, theatre, and opera productions.

    His method combines drawing, writing, film, performance, music, theatre, and collaborative practices to create works of art that are grounded in politics, science, literature and history, all the while maintaining a space for contradiction and uncertainty. His aesthetics are drawn from the medium of film’s own history, from stop-motion animation to early special effects. Kentridge’s drawing, specifically the dynamism of an erased and redrawn mark, is an integral part of his expanded animation and filmmaking practice, where the meanings of his films are developed during the process of their making. 

    Kentridge’s work has been seen in museums and galleries around the world since the 1990s, including Documenta in Kassel, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Musée du Louvre in Paris, Whitechapel Gallery in London, Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen, the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid, and the Kunstmuseum in Basel. 

    Opera productions include Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Shostakovich’s The Nose, and Alban Berg’s operas Lulu and Wozzeck, and have been seen at opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Milan, English National Opera in London, Opera de Lyon, Amsterdam opera, and the Salzburg Festival.

    The Head & the Load, with music by composer Philip Miller and Thuthuka Sibisi and choreography by Gregory Maqoma, interweaves music, dance, projection, shadow-play, and sculpture. It premiered at the Tate Turbine Hall in July 2018 and went on to the Park Avenue Armory in New York and the Holland Festival in Amsterdam. 

    Kentridge is the recipient of honorary doctorates from several universities including Yale University and the University of London. In 2010, he received the Kyoto Prize. In 2012, he presented the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University. In 2015, he was appointed an Honorary Academician of the Royal Academy in London. In 2017, he received the Princesa de Asturias Award for the Arts, and in 2018, the Antonio Feltrinelli International Prize. In 2019, he received the Praemium Imperiale Award in Painting in Tokyo.

  • Tania León (b. Havana, Cuba) is highly regarded as a composer, conductor, educator, and advisor to arts organizations. Her orchestral work Stride, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, was awarded the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Music. In 2022, she was named a recipient of the 45th Annual Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievements. In 2023, she was awarded the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition from Northwestern University. Most recently, León became the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s next Composer-in-Residence—a post she will hold for two seasons, beginning in September 2023. She will also hold Carnegie Hall’s Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair for its 2023-2024 season.

    Recent premieres include works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, NDR Symphony Orchestra, Grossman Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, Modern Ensemble, Jennifer Koh’s project Alone Together, and The Curtis Institute. Appearances as guest conductor include Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille, Gewandhausorchester, Orquesta Sinfónica de Guanajuato, and Orquesta Sinfónica de Cuba, among others. Upcoming commissions feature a work for the League of American Orchestras, and a work for Claire Chase, flute, and The Crossing Choir with text by Rita Dove.

    A founding member and first Music Director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, León instituted the Brooklyn Philharmonic Community Concert Series, co-founded the American Composers Orchestra’s Sonidos de las Américas Festivals, was New Music Advisor to the New York Philharmonic, and is the Founder and Artistic Director of Composers Now, a presenting, commissioning, and advocacy organization for living composers.

    Honors include the New York Governor’s Lifetime Achievement Award, inductions into the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Victor Herbert Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), and fellowship awards from The Koussevitzky Music and Guggenheim Foundations, among others. She also received a proclamation for Composers Now from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the MadWoman Festival Award in Music (Spain).

    León has received honorary degrees from Colgate University, Oberlin College, SUNY Purchase College, and The Curtis Institute of Music, and served as U.S. Artistic Ambassador of American Culture in Madrid, Spain. A City University of New York (CUNY) Professor Emerita, she was awarded a 2018 United States Artists Fellowship, Chamber Music America’s 2022 National Service Award, and Harvard University’s 2022 Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award. In 2023, Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library acquired Tania’s León’s archive.

  • Professor Shing-Tung Yau is a Chinese-American mathematician.  He is known for a wide variety of contributions to mathematics and theoretical physics. With Richard Schoen, he proved the positive mass conjecture, discovered the first black hole existence theorem due to the condensation of matter, and most recently, he and Mu-Tao Wang worked on defining “quasilocal mass,” which allows the measurement of gravitational energy on any finitely extended region. Making use of ideas from quasilocal quantities, they solved a long outstanding problem on understanding angular momentum in general relativity. Yau is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and a recipient of the Fields Medal, the Crafoord Prize, the United States National Medal of Science, the Wolf Prize in Mathematics, and the Marcel Grossmann Award.

  • Patti Smith is a writer, performer and visual artist. She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary merging of poetry and rock. She has released 12 albums, including Horses, which has been hailed as one of the top 100 albums of all time by Rolling Stone.

    Smith had her first exhibit of drawings at the Gotham Book Mart in 1973 and was represented by the Robert Miller Gallery for three decades. Her retrospective exhibitions include the Andy Warhol Museum, the Fondation Cartier, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Her books include Just Kids, winner of the National Book Award in 2010, Witt, Babel, Woolgathering, The Coral Sea, Auguries of Innocence, M Train, and Devotion.

    In 2005, the French Ministry of Culture awarded Smith the title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honor given to an artist by the French Republic. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

  • Nemat "Minouche" Shafik is an economist, policymaker, and higher education leader who will become the 20th President of Columbia University in the City of New York on July 1, 2023. For more than three decades, she has served in senior leadership roles across a range of prominent international and academic institutions. Since 2017 she has been President and Vice Chancellor of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), one of the world’s leading centers for research and teaching in the social sciences.

    Before her tenure at LSE, Shafik served as Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, where she led work on fighting misconduct in financial markets and was responsible for a balance sheet of about $600 billion; Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, where she helped navigate turbulence surrounding the European debt crisis and the Arab Spring; Permanent Secretary of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, where she helped secure the UK’s commitment to giving 0.7% of GDP in aid and focused it on fighting poverty in the poorest countries in the world; and the youngest-ever Vice President of the World Bank, where she worked on the institution’s first-ever report on the environment, led work on infrastructure and private sector investment, and advised governments in post-communist Eastern Europe. She also serves as a trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the British Museum, and BRAC, the world’s largest non-governmental organization.

    Shafik earned a BA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, an MSc from LSE, and a DPhil from St Antony's College, Oxford. She has received a life peerage and membership of the House of Lords, a damehood for services to the global economy, an honorary fellowship of the British Academy, and several honorary degrees.

    She is married to Raffael Jovine, a molecular biologist, with whom she has two college-aged children and three adult stepchildren.

  • Katori Hall is a Pulitzer Prize-winning, two-time Tony-nominated Memphis-native, and book writer and co-producer of the West End and Broadway hit Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. She’s also the creator of P-VALLEY, the Starz drama based on her play, Pussy Valley. The critically-acclaimed series has garnered a variety of accolades, including the NAACP Image Award for Best Television Drama.

    Hall’s latest theatrical piece, The Hot Wing King, premiered in Spring 2020 at the Signature Theatre, rounding out her three-play residency and winning her the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Her play The Mountaintop, which fictionalizes the last night in Martin Luther King’s life, won the Olivier Award for Best New Play in 2010 before opening on Broadway in October 2011 to critical acclaim. Hall’s other works include the award-winning Hurt VillageHoodoo LoveSaturday Night/Sunday MorningOur Lady of KibehoChildren of Killers, and The Blood Quilt. She is also the director of the award-winning short, ARKABUTLA. 

    Hall is an alumna of Columbia University, the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, and The Juilliard School. She is a graduate of the Sundance Episodic Lab's inaugural class, the Sundance Screenwriting Lab, and Ryan Murphy’s Half Foundation Directing Program. Hall’s additional honors include a Susan Smith Blackburn Award, Lark Play Development Center Playwrights of New York (PONY) Fellowship, two Lecompte du Nouy Prizes from Lincoln Center, Fellowship of Southern Writers Bryan Family Award in Drama, NYFA Fellowship, the Columbia University John Jay Award for Distinguished Professional Achievement, National Black Theatre's August Wilson Playwriting Award, and the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award.

  • Joyce Ladner was a Professor of Sociology, Provost, and Interim President at Howard University.  When she became Interim President of Howard University in 1994, she brought the University through a significant budget ($25M) shortfall, which was a period of austerity that involved layoffs of staff and a freeze on spending, yet for Ladner, was a matter of saving the University.  By the end of that year, she was successful in closing the budget gap.  Following her time as Interim President, Ladner was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the District of Columbia Financial Control Board for a three-year term, to balance the city’s budget after it became bankrupt.  Ladner was also a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. 

    As a sociologist, Ladner studied and interpreted the intersectionality of race, gender, and class in her book, Tomorrow’s Tomorrow: The Black Woman that was the forerunner of the field of Black Girlhood Studies, and is a canon in the field.  Her second book, The Death of White Sociology, was a landmark work that challenged the value neutrality of mainstream sociology. Her other books include Mixed Families: Adopting Across Racial BoundariesThe Ties that Bind: Timeless Values for African American Families and Launching Our Black Children for Success: A Guide for Parents of Kids from Three to Eighteen.  She studied the roles of Tanzanian women in nation building and has lived in Dakar, Senegal.  The poet Robert Pinsky also mentioned Ladner and her mentor, holocaust survivor Ernst Borinski, in his poem titled “Poem of Names” (The New Yorker, 2019).

    A native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Ladner began her fight for social justice as a teenager when she helped organize an NAACP Youth Chapter in her hometown.  She was expelled from Jackson State College in 1961 for organizing a civil rights protest.  

    Ladner was on the front line of most of the major civil rights protests in the sixties including Greenwood, Birmingham, Albany, Georgia, Selma, and Jackson.  As a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), she was mentored by civil rights pioneers Fannie Lou Hamer and Ella Baker.  She worked with slain civil rights leaders Medgar Evers and Vernon Dahmer, and two of the three civil rights workers, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner, who were murdered during the Mississippi Freedom Summer.  

    Ladner was on the twelve-person staff that organized the March on Washington in 1963 under the direction of Bayard Rustin and A. Phillip Randolph in Harlem, ands he was on the stage when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington, DC.  She is completing her memoir titled Standing in the Gap: A Memoir of Resistance, Rebirth and Redemption that captures the spirit of her 1960s generation of young civil rights workers who challenged segregation and discrimination in the South and changed the face of America.

    Ladner earned a BA from Tougaloo College in 1964 and a PhD from Washington University, St. Louis in 1968.

  • Jonathan Lavine is Co-Managing Partner of Bain Capital, one of the world’s leading private investment firms. He founded Bain Capital Credit and Bain Capital Special Situations in 1998.

  • Jodi Kantor is a prize-winning investigative reporter and best-selling author whose work has revealed hidden truths about power, gender, technology, politics and culture.

    In October 2017, she and Megan Twohey broke the story of decades of sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Their work helped ignite the #MeToo movement, shift attitudes, and spur new laws, policies and standards of accountability around the globe. Together with a team of colleagues who exposed harassment across industries, they were awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service , journalism’s highest award, and also received or shared in numerous other honors, including a  2017 George Polk Award.

    She Said, Kantor and Twohey’s book recounting the Weinstein investigation, was called “an instant classic of investigative journalism” by The Washington Post and one of the best books of the year by the New York Public Library, NPR, The New York TimesTime, and many other publications.

    Before then, Ms. Kantor’s article about the havoc caused by automated scheduling systems in Starbucks workers’ lives spurred changes at the company and helped begin a national fair-scheduling movement. After she and David Streitfeld investigated punishing practices at Amazon’s corporate headquarters, the company changed its human resources policies, introducing paternity leave and eliminating its employee ranking system. Ms. Kantor’s report on working mothers and breastfeeding inspired two readers to create the first free-standing lactation suites for nursing mothers, now available in hundreds of airports and stadiums.

    For six years, Ms. Kantor wrote about Barack and Michelle Obama, delving into their ideas, biographies, family, marriage, faith, and approach to the White House, and covering the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. Ms. Kantor’s best-selling book The Obamas, about their behind-the-scenes adjustment to the jobs of president and first lady, was published in 2012. 

    Ms. Kantor, a contributor to "This Morning" on CBS, lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Ron Lieber, and their two daughters. Please follow her work on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

  • Jeannie Lavine is the Co-Founder and Trustee of the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation, an organization established by her and her husband, Jonathan Lavine, which delivers financial resources to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations focused on leveling the playing field for individuals and families. Under their leadership, the foundation has supported a diverse array of causes including numerous initiatives at Columbia University designed to impact many aspects of student life, faculty support, research, and scholarship, and support of Columbia’s neighboring communities. Currently, the Lavines are chairing Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health centennial year celebrations.

    Mrs. Lavine is a close partner to Mr. Lavine on his various leadership roles at Columbia and a proud parent of two Columbia alumnae, Allie Lavine ’16CC and Emily Lavine ’18CC, and a son-in-law, Nathan Rosin ’18CC. The Columbia community and her family’s transformational philanthropy have been inextricably linked for more than three decades. During that time, the Lavines have supported all 18 of Columbia’s schools. In addition to the family’s work with Columbia, Mrs. Lavine helped establish the Massachusetts chapter of Stand for Children, a nonprofit training and leadership organization that teaches citizens how to band together and become effective grassroots advocates for long-lasting improvements for children. She chairs the President’s Advisory Council for Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston and was a long-time Board member at Temple Isaiah in Lexington, Massachusetts.

    Mrs. Lavine served as a Founding Member of The Better Angels Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating Americans about history through documentary film. The Lavines have sponsored six documentaries produced by Ken Burns including “The U.S. and the Holocaust,” “Ben Franklin,” and “Vietnam.” They worked with The Better Angels Society and Ken Burns to create the Annual Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, which recognizes filmmakers who use the documentary medium to tell stories about American history using original research and compelling narrative. In addition, the Lavines established The Better Angels Lavine Fellowship program designed to engage up-and-coming documentarians with a special emphasis on film projects telling the stories of America’s diversity. They also established the Lavine Family Documentary Fund at Columbia Journalism School.

    Earlier in her career, Mrs. Lavine worked as a strategy consultant for The Monitor Group and Boston Consulting Group. She earned her degree in Economics from Harvard College, graduated magna cum laude, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Mrs. Lavine went on to Harvard Business School where she received her MBA with distinction.

    Passionately committed to higher education, Mrs. Lavine is also an active member of the Harvard University community, serving as a member of the Dean’s Council of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and as a member of the Board of Dean’s Advisors for Harvard Business School. She has been recognized for her service and philanthropy to Harvard College and Harvard Business School. She also previously served as Co-Chair of the Campaign for the Harvard School of Public Health.

  • James Stewart Polshek’s distinguished career is in its sixth decade. As an architect, educator, and public advocate, he has created buildings whose designs exemplify elegance in problem-solving and spring from critical precepts of humanism. Having defined academic and practice models built on the values of collaboration and diversity, he has inspired generations of architecture students and professionals.

    Polshek was Dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation for fifteen years. Appointed by University President William McGill in 1972–a tumultuous period marked by the threat of nuclear weapons and the continuing Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, the aftermath of the 1960s upheavals on college campuses, and the oil crisis–Polshek led the architecture school’s resurrection. He assembled an ideologically diverse faculty, with whom he developed a socially relevant curriculum, created degree-granting programs in planning and preservation, and established the interdisciplinary Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture. Polshek served as Special Adviser for Design and Planning to the University President, and in that capacity, he assured stewardship of the historic campus and had a critical role in reviewing designs for contemporary interventions. 

    In 1964, Polshek completed his first two major commissions for Teijin Institute in Tokyo, Japan. Upon his return to the United States, Polshek founded his own firm.  Over the next several decades this firm evolved into Polshek Partnership winning the American Institute of Architects’ Firm Award in 1992. In concert with his office, Polshek completed numerous projects of international significance, including: Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History, New York; Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe, New Mexico; the restoration and expansion of Carnegie Hall, New York;  the renovation and expansion of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center, Little Rock, Arkansas; and the National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    Emblematic of his belief in the power of design to shape the public realm and by extension to improve public life are activities complementary to professional practice. In 2006, Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Polshek to the New York City Public Design Commission, the body charged with ensuring excellence and innovation in designs for city-owned properties.  In 2005, Polshek became the interpretive consultant for the realization of Louis I. Kahn’s 1973 design for Franklin Delano Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island. In 1981, he co-founded Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility; in 1993, the non-profit received a national award from the American Institute of Architects for “its strong resounding voice for social and political justice.” 

    In 2018, Polshek received the American Institute of Architects’ highest honor, the Gold Medal, and a year later, he received the Fulbright Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Polshek published two books on his work, Context and Responsibility (Rizzoli, 1988) and Build, Memory (Monacelli Press, 2014).

    Polshek has received many honors, including the Municipal Art Society’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal, the Brooklyn Museum's Augustus Graham Medal for excellence in architecture, election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the William Bernoudy Residency in Architecture at the American Academy in Rome. He has been awarded honorary degrees from Pratt Institute, Parsons, the New School for Design, and New Jersey Institute of Technology. 

    Polshek is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and holds an MArch from Yale University and a BS from Case Western Reserve University.

  • Hillary Rodham Clinton has spent four decades in public service as an advocate, attorney, First Lady, U.S. Senator, U.S. Secretary of State, and presidential candidate. After graduating from Wellesley College and Yale Law School, she began her life-long work on behalf of children and families by joining the Children’s Defense Fund.  As First Lady of the United States, she championed healthcare reform and led successful bipartisan efforts to improve the adoption and foster care systems, reduce teen pregnancy, and create the Children's Health Insurance Program. As Senator from New York, she worked to expand economic opportunity and access to quality, affordable health care. After September 11, 2001, she helped to rebuild New York and provide health care for first responders.

    As Secretary of State, she led the effort to restore America’s leadership in the world. She negotiated a cease-fire in Gaza that defended Israel’s security and headed off-war in the Middle East. Furthermore, she mobilized an international coalition to impose sanctions against Iran, and championed human rights. 

    In 2016, Clinton became the first woman nominated for U.S. president by a major U.S. political party. As the Democratic candidate, she campaigned for a vision of America that is “stronger together” and an agenda to make our economy work for everyone, earning the support of nearly 66 million Americans.

  • Carla D. Hayden was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress on September 14, 2016. Hayden, the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library, was nominated to the position by President Barack Obama on February 24, 2016, and her nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 13, 2016. 

    Prior to her latest post she served, since 1993, as CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland. Hayden was nominated by President Obama to be a member of the National Museum and Library Services Board in January 2010 and was confirmed to that post by the Senate in June 2010. Prior to joining the Pratt Library, Hayden was deputy commissioner and chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library from 1991 to 1993. She was an assistant professor for Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh from 1987 to 1991. Hayden was library services coordinator for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago from 1982 to 1987. She began her career with the Chicago Public Library as the young adult services coordinator from 1979 to 1982 and as a library associate and children’s librarian from 1973 to 1979. 

    Hayden was President of the American Library Association from 2003 to 2004. In 1995, she was the first African American to receive Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year Award in recognition of her outreach services at the Pratt Library, which included an after-school center for Baltimore teens offering homework assistance and college and career counseling. Hayden received a BA from Roosevelt University and an MA and PhD from the Graduate Library School of the University of Chicago.

  • Bob Woodward has been an associate editor of The Washington Post for 52 years. He has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes, first in 1973 for the coverage of the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein, and second in 2002 as the lead reporter for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    He has authored or coauthored 21 books, all national bestsellers. Fifteen were #1 New York Times bestsellers, including his last three books on the Trump presidency: Fear (2018), Rage (2020) and Peril (2021). Woodward recently released The Trump Tapes, an audiobook bestseller of his 20 historic interviews with President Donald Trump. 

    Robert Gates, former director of the CIA and Secretary of Defense, said of Woodward, “He has extraordinary ability to get otherwise responsible adults to spill [their] guts to him…his ability to get people to talk about stuff they shouldn’t be talking about is just extraordinary and may be unique.”

    John Harris of Politico wrote, “Over nearly a half-century, no other person—including people wielding official power as legislators or prosecutors—has done as much to illuminate the modern presidency and help shape understanding of the nine people to hold the office during his career as Woodward, wielding only a journalist’s unofficial powers of curiosity, notepad, and recorder.”

    Bob Schieffer of CBS News has said, “Woodward has established himself as the best reporter of our time. He may be the best reporter of all time.”

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