Established in 1993 to honor the memory of Sen. John Heinz (R-PA), who was killed in a plane crash in 1991, the awards recognize extraordinary individuals for their achievement in finding solutions to critical issues in five areas that were important to Heinz: the arts and humanities; the environment; the human condition; public policy; and technology, the economy, and employment. Each honoree will receive an unrestricted cash prize of $250,000.
This year's recipients are Kevin Jerome Everson, an independent filmmaker and visual artist whose films offer diverse portrayals of the lives and experiences of working-class African Americans; Rue Mapp, founder of Outdoor Afro, a nonprofit that inspires African Americans to reconnect with the outdoors and equips them to become leaders in conservation advocacy; Sarah Szanton, a nurse researcher and leader of Community Aging in Place Advancing Better Living for Elders, which provides household "handyman" services in tandem with nursing and occupational therapy services to improve quality of life and reduce healthcare costs for seniors; Amanda Nguyen, founder of Rise, whose tireless advocacy on behalf of survivors of sexual assault resulted in passage of the Survivors' Bill of Rights Act of 2016; and Brandon Dennison, founder of Coalfield Development Corp., a group of social enterprises in Wayne, West Virginia, that work together to provide on-the-job training, paid college and technical certifications, and life-skills support to area residents while also incubating new businesses rooted in the green economy.
"The recipients of this year's awards are creating opportunities for individuals to access the foundations of a healthy, free, and just society — well-paying jobs, a just legal system, equity of opportunity, and a life of dignity when we are not able to care for ourselves," said Teresa Heinz. "These awardees have demonstrated not only innovative thinking, but also persistence, courage, and an inspiring compassion for others. We are grateful to them for their contributions, which so beautifully exemplify the spirit of the Heinz Awards."