- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2005

“No politics tonight,” Sen. John Kerry stated firmly, turning away a reporter’s question while waiting for the 11th Heinz Awards program to begin in the Folger Shakespeare Library Tuesday night.

It was his wife’s event all the way. “I don’t interfere,” he said, referring to Teresa Heinz’s annual philanthropic endeavor awarding $250,000 apiece to five outstanding individuals of vision and accomplishment in various fields.

The awards, created by the Heinz Family Foundation in memory of her late husband, former Sen. H. John Heinz III, this year went to artist Mark di Suvero; professor and old-growth-forest champion Jerry Franklin; Pennsylvania mental health crusader Joseph Rogers; physicist Sidney Drell, an international arms control specialist; and pioneering scientist Mildred Dresselhaus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A Chairman’s Medal — a medal but no money — went to financier Richard Goldman for his own philanthropic efforts in the social sphere.

The only elected political figure ever to be so honored was the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in the category of public service, Mr. Kerry said. After dinner in the Folger’s Old Reading Room — dubbed by him “this wonderful Harry Potter room” — the Massachusetts Democrat rose to offer a toast to his wife, who purposely had held last year’s event in Pittsburgh, her previous husband’s home and political base. That was done as much to celebrate the 10th anniversary year as to separate the program from the ongoing presidential campaign.

“This year we had hoped for a different location,” was the pointed opening remark of Ronald Davenport, chairman of Sheridan Broadcasting and the evening’s emcee.

Mrs. Heinz said her motivation for establishing the awards was “to honor qualities of character … and how much our individual actions can make a difference.” The recipients, she noted before the ceremony, “usually put the money into what they do.”

Dancer-educator Jacques d’Amboise, a past recipient, exulted about the Heinz Awards, calling them “more prestigious than a MacArthur [Foundation grant] that goes to 30 people, while these go to only five or six.”

Ann Geracimos

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