On Oct. 4th, the 21st Heinz Awards recipients participated in a moderated event at Carnegie Mellon University: "Shared Ideals Realized - Creating A Society For All." Moderated by Grant Oliphant, president of the Heinz Endowments, the full video may be watched below:

Announcing the 21st Heinz Awards Honorees

Established by Teresa Heinz to honor the memory of her late husband, U.S. Senator John Heinz, the Heinz Awards celebrates the accomplishments and spirit of the Senator by recognizing the extraordinary achievements of individuals in the areas of greatest importance to him.

This year’s recipients include a celebrated New Orleans musician; an environment and energy policy innovator; a pediatrician pioneering the treatment of toxic stress in children; a civil rights attorney, advocate, and author leading the national dialogue on mass incarceration; and an entrepreneur who is helping to democratize online publishing.

Collectively, they represent the passion for excellence, the universal vision, and the enduring, meaningful impact that the Heinz Awards hope to inspire.

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews

21st Heinz Award for the Arts and Humanities

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Photo: Justin Lubke

Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, bandleader and frontman of Orleans Avenue, is recognized for his achievements as a musician and for his community work to preserve and pass on the rich musical heritage of his native New Orleans.

In his 26-year career, Mr. Andrews has achieved remarkable success as a composer, performer and musical innovator. Inspired by diverse influences, he has created a unique sound he calls “Supafunkrock,” a distinctive marriage of rock, funk, jazz, soul and hip-hop. To date, Mr. Andrews has recorded six studio albums and appeared as a sideman on 21 albums for other artists, playing with some of the world’s most legendary musicians.

In 2011, Mr. Andrews established the Trombone Shorty Foundation, through which schools across New Orleans receive professional-quality instruments donated by Mr. Andrews. As part of the foundation, he also created the Trombone Shorty Music Academy and collaborated with Tulane University to establish a music industry leadership training program for promising high school musicians. Mr. Andrews recently wrote a children’s book, Trombone Shorty, which chronicles his young life and how he made his dream a reality, earning him and his illustrator, Brian Collier, a 2016 Caldecott Honor Book award.

Through his artistry and mentorship, Mr. Andrews is keeping the rich musical heritage of New Orleans alive — ensuring that the city’s unique sounds and tradition of community musicianship thrive for generations to come.

Hal Harvey

21st Heinz Award for the Environment

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Photo: Jason Henry

Hal Harvey, CEO of Energy Innovation, an energy and environmental policy firm, is recognized for his leadership and results-driven solutions to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and energy waste worldwide.

An optimist by nature, Mr. Harvey works from the premise that global climate change is in fact solvable, and that the move to zero-carbon energy technologies can be accomplished.

In work that spans the United States, India, China, Europe and developing countries, he has united global leaders to leverage best practices in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Mr. Harvey has focused his efforts on four sectors where incremental improvements can make the most significant impact in reducing emissions: cars and trucks, buildings, electric utilities and industry.

Mr. Harvey and others contributed strategic guidance to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) newly released fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks that will save more than one billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. A project of Energy Innovation — the Energy Simulator — lets users test various climate and energy policy combinations across all sectors to identify policies capable of decarbonizing the economy at the lowest price.

Through his decisive actions over nearly three decades, Mr. Harvey is leading the way to the widespread adoption of zero-carbon and energy-efficient solutions that can stem the tide of global climate change.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris

21st Heinz Award for the Human Condition

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Photo: Jason Henry

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness, is recognized for her work in addressing toxic stress in children, a significant, yet often unrecognized risk factor for chronic disease later in life.

Dr. Burke Harris was the founding physician of the Bayview Child Health Center, established in San Francisco in 2007. After identifying Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress as a major health threat to her pediatric patients, she created the Center for Youth Wellness (CYW) in 2011 with a mission to prevent, screen and heal the impacts of ACEs and toxic stress.

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A vocal advocate, Dr. Burke Harris is raising awareness of the dangers of children’s exposure to early adversity. Research Dr. Burke Harris and others have conducted reveal that when children are exposed to four or more ACEs, they are twice as likely to be overweight or obese, and 32 times as likely to have learning or behavior problems as compared to children of the same income and ethnicity with zero ACEs.

Through the development of a lifesaving screening tool to identify ACEs in young patients, Dr. Burke Harris is pioneering the way pediatricians will diagnose and treat children suffering from toxic stress.

As she continues serving children and families in her local community, Dr. Burke Harris is committed to raising awareness and educating other physicians on screening for and responding to the effects of early childhood adversity and toxic stress.

Michelle Alexander

21st Heinz Award for Public Policy

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Photo: Megan Leigh Barnard

Michelle Alexander, legal scholar, advocate, civil rights attorney and author of the seminal book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, is recognized for drawing national attention to the issue of mass incarceration of African American youth and men in the United States, and for propelling a movement to take constructive action on criminal justice reform.

Throughout her career, Ms. Alexander has focused on addressing the racial inequities in America’s criminal justice system and prejudice against the formerly incarcerated. After graduating from law school, she served as a clerk for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court and later was the director of the Racial Justice Project of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California. In addition to leading major campaigns against racial profiling by law enforcement, Ms. Alexander and has taught at a number of universities and is now a senior fellow at the Ford Foundation.

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Ms. Alexander’s work and her book The New Jim Crow have sparked a national dialogue on racial bias in America’s criminal justice system, mobilizing activists, educators, religious leaders and individuals to take action to reform not only the system, but also the laws that limit opportunities for the formerly incarcerated.

Inspired by the Civil Rights victories of the 1950s and 1960s, Ms. Alexander is carrying on that legacy and giving the movement new life by catalyzing a paradigm shift with a calm, clear voice of determined hope.

Matt Mullenweg

21st Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment

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Photo: Jason Henry

Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress, is recognized for his role in developing a tool that is helping to democratize online publishing.

Since WordPress was introduced in 2004, it has been a free, open-source platform — and will remain so in perpetuity. Today, WordPress powers more than one quarter (76.5 million) of websites worldwide, from millions of individual blogs to high-profile clients that include Time Inc., The New York Times and Microsoft.

In addition to providing a platform that lets anyone express themselves, WordPress has fostered a thriving economy of hundreds of thousands of independent contractors and small companies who specialize in WordPress design, software and hosting.

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The company Mr. Mullenweg founded to oversee WordPress and related blogging products — Automattic — is also innovating the workplace. Automattic operates using a distributed-work model: employees are located around the world, not in centralized offices, and work on their own schedule. This fosters productivity and breaks down barriers, particularly the gender and demographic imbalances often experienced in the technology sector.

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Through WordPress and the new work models the platform has inspired, Mr. Mullenweg has transformed the way the world communicates and collaborates, fostering greater transparency, creativity and opportunity.


“Though they come from diverse backgrounds and represent wide-ranging fields of knowledge and expertise, these outstanding men and women that we honor this year embody the true spirit of the Heinz Awards.

They are not only leaders, they are truth-tellers, barrier-breakers, givers of hope, and givers of help. They have taken their innate talents and abilities, harnessed the opportunities they have been given to achieve and excel, and directed their focus to ideas and actions that are making a lasting impact on our communities and our world.

At a time of increasing divisiveness, these Americans inspire us with what is possible, remind us of our potential, and challenge us to do better.”

— Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation


This year, the Heinz Awards celebrates 21 years of honoring the outstanding contributions of those who are changing our world for the better.