- The Washington Times - Friday, March 15, 2002

The Heinz Awards recognizing "the power of the individual in American society" may not be as celebrated or bountiful as the Templeton and Nobel prizes or the MacArthur Fellowships; nonetheless, they have, in only eight short years, taken their place among the philanthropic world's distinguished laurels.
Seven outstanding winners in widely disparate fields of humanitarian endeavor collected sizable checks along with their commemorative medallions at the eighth annual awards ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library Tuesday night. The prizes, bestowed in the name of the late Sen. H. John Heinz III of Pennsylvania by his widow, Teresa Heinz (now remarried to Sen. John F. Kerry) ranged from $125,000 to $250,000.
Rick Lowe, who received a $125,000 Arts and Humanities award for transforming 22 dilapidated Houston row houses into art galleries, offices and housing for single mothers, said the glad tidings were completely unexpected.
"The news came out of the blue," he recalled, smiling broadly as well-wishers congratulated him during pre-program cocktails in the New Reading Room. "Mrs. Heinz called to say I had won, then mentioned there was a cash award which I thought would probably be five or ten thousand dollars. I was in shock when I heard how much it was."
Mr. Lowe took some time to think about what he would do with the gift, which is personal and unrestricted in use. Finally he decided as many of the recipients have done over the years that "it made sense to donate all of it back," in his case to Project Row House, the organization to which he has dedicated his heart and soul.
Cushing Dolbeare, the feisty founder of the National Low Income Housing Coalition in Washington, was similarly "stunned" to hear of the $250,000 Human Condition award honoring her life's work. Every penny, she said, will go to an endowment the coalition has created in her name.
An audience of 200 guests from politics, society and the arts sat in the Elizabethan Theatre for the biographical videos, award presentations and acceptance speeches from the winners, who included marine biologist Jane Lubchenco, the Environment awardee; retired U.S. Air Force Gen. George Lee Butler, winner of the Public Policy prize for his nuclear disarmament advocacy; women-in-technology guru Anita Borg (Technology, Economy and Employment); and Dudley Cocke, director of the Roadside Theater in Whitesburg, Ky., who shared the Arts and Humanities prize with Mr. Lowe. Ruth Patrick, a 94-year-old biologist and estuary ecosystem expert, received the Special Chairman's Medal for Lifetime Achievement.
The five categories represent the areas in which Mr. Heinz, an heir to the Heinz food-products fortune, was most actively interested before his death in a 1991 plane crash. Two years later, Mrs. Heinz established the awards in his memory with funds from the Heinz Family Foundation, one of the myriad family-related endowments (total assets $1.8 billion) she controls.
Factoring in additional benefactions from her personal fortune (estimated at $1 billion) makes Mrs. Heinz one of the country's most generous donors to a wide range of causes, although not necessarily political ones. (A liberal Republican registered to vote in Pennsylvania, where she still maintains one of five homes, she has mostly shunned the partisan spotlight as far as major contributions are concerned although that may change if Mr. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat whom she married in 1995, ends up seeking his party's 2004 presidential nod.)
Add auburn-haired beauty, exquisite couture, a notably sexy accent (she was born in Portuguese Mozambique and speaks five languages) plus enthusiasm and a charm that disarms, and she is, as her youngest son, Christopher Heinz described her in his introduction, "an elemental force of nature" in addition to being a "committed philanthropist and loving mother."
"She's a fabulous woman who believes with all her heart in what she's doing," affirmed Dance Theatre of Harlem founder (and former Heinz awardee) Arthur Mitchell, one of many supporters who stayed late to dine with Mrs. Heinz and her sons, Andre Heinz, 32, an environmentalist living in Stockholm, and H. John Heinz IV, 35, a blacksmith and artist who runs a school for troubled youths in Bucks County, Pa. (Christopher, 29, works in finance in New York City).
Other guests included Sen. Heinz's stepsister Wendy MacKenzie, Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser, Ann Jordan, Walter and Ann Pincus, Alfred and Pie Friendly, Catherine Stevens, James Fallows, Maurice Tobin, Dorothy Height, former Sens. Harris Wofford and Timothy Wirth, political consultant David Garth, Bill and Dorothy McSweeny and Kermit and Priscilla Roosevelt.


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