Award Announcement

Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey and Giovanna Negretti, Co-Founder of Boston-Based Non-Profit ¿Oiste?, Honored as Recipients of 2008 John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards

Cambridge, MA, November 24, 2008 - Caroline Kennedy today presented the fifth annual John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards to Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark, New Jersey and Giovanna Negretti, co-founder and Executive Director of the Boston-based non-profit ¿Oiste?. The awards were presented during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at Harvard Kennedy School.

“Giovanna Negretti and Cory Booker exemplify the spirit of President Kennedy’s call to service,” said Caroline Kennedy, President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and a member of the Senior Advisory Committee for Harvard’s Institute of Politics. “They inspire us to remember that we can all make a difference no matter how old, or young, we are.”

The John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards were created by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and Harvard’s Institute of Politics to honor Americans under the age of 40 who are changing their communities and the country with their commitment to public service. The awards are presented annually to two exceptional individuals whose contributions in elective office, community service, or advocacy demonstrate the impact and the value of public service in the spirit of John F. Kennedy.

One of the New Frontier Awards honors an elected official whose work demonstrates the importance of elective service as a way to address a public challenge or challenges. This award, called the Fenn Award, is presented to a young elected official in honor of Dan Fenn, the Kennedy Library’s first director and a former member of President Kennedy’s staff. The other New Frontier Award honors an individual whose contributions in the realm of community service, advocacy or grassroots activism have had a positive impact on a broad public policy issue or challenge.

Cory A. Booker
Mayor, Newark, New Jersey
Fenn Award Recipient

When Cory A. Booker, 39, took the oath of office as mayor of New Jersey’s largest city on July 1, 2006, he assumed the leadership of a city plagued by crime and economic blight. Booker immediately launched a “100-Day Plan” to improve public safety, develop the economy, and reform city government. Among his early reforms were a reorganization of the police department, a commitment to a “zero-tolerance” policy with respect to petty crime, and the implementation of programs focused on at-risk youth and fatherhood. In July 2008, two years after taking office, Booker and his administration reported a 40% decrease in the number of shootings and murders in Newark – the largest reduction in violent crime among major U.S. cities. Booker has also led an innovative public-private partnership to create and refurbish 20 city parks, a $40 million commitment scheduled for completion by the end of his first term, and has secured multimillion dollar commitments from several national philanthropies, including the Gates Foundation, for the creation of new charter schools in Newark.

Booker began his political career in 1998, after serving as staff attorney for the Urban Justice Center in Newark. He rose to political prominence as Newark’s Central Ward councilman, drawing attention to the plight of young people in the city, which had the highest infant mortality, teenage pregnancy and high school dropout rates in the country. After losing his first mayoral race in 2002, Booker founded Newark Now, a nonprofit aimed at improving safety, economic independence and civic participation in Newark.

Cory Booker received his B.A. and M.A. from Stanford University, a B.A. in Modern History from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and a law degree from Yale University.

Giovanna Negretti
Co-founder and Executive Director, ¿Oiste?
Giovanna Negretti, 37, is the co-founder and executive director of ¿Oiste?, established in 1999 to provide Massachusetts Latinos with the tools and training to enter public service. The organization was founded in response to concern about the under representation of Latinos in public decision making roles. While its original goal was to provide non-partisan campaigning workshops to Latinos who planned to seek public office, ¿Oiste?’s mission quickly expanded to include civic education, leadership development and advocacy. Among Negretti’s early achievements was a successful legal challenge to protect the enfranchisement of voters in Lawrence, Massachusetts, whose population is predominantly Latino. ¿Oiste? now has six grassroots regional councils across the state, each of which engages in local public issues with an eye toward expanding Latino civic participation. The organization has plans to expand to five states within the next three years.

Under Negretti’s direction, ¿Oiste? also serves as the lead manager of an innovative three-year partnership to prepare Boston’s promising young people of color for political leadership. The partnership provides a free 16-week course in politics, public policy and leadership to young men and women from greater Boston in exchange for a promise to run for office or work on a political campaign within the next several years.

Giovanna Negretti was recently selected by Hunt Alternatives Fund for its Prime Movers program, a multi-year fellowship for emerging and established social movement leaders. She holds a B.F.A. from Emerson College, and an M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School.

At the New Frontier Awards ceremony, Caroline Kennedy presented Booker and Negretti each with a ship’s navigational compass in a wooden box bearing the inscription: “We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier….I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier.” – John F. Kennedy.

The New Frontier Awards are named after President Kennedy's bold challenge to Americans given in his acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention on July 15, 1960:

"We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier…a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils -- a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats. The New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises -- it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their pride, not to their pocketbook -- it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security…. Beyond that frontier are the uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. It would be easier to shrink back from that frontier, to look to the safe mediocrity of the past, to be lulled by good intentions and high rhetoric…but I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier."

A distinguished bipartisan committee of political and community leaders selected Booker and Negretti based on their contributions to the public and their embodiment of the forward-looking public idealism to which President Kennedy hoped young Americans would aspire. Past recipients of the New Frontier Awards include: Jay Williams, Mayor of Youngstown, Ohio; Zainab Salbi, Founder and CEO of Women for Women International; Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Council President; Jane Leu, Founder and Executive Director of Upwardly Global; Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General; Kica Matos, Community Service Administrator, City of New Haven and former Executive Director of JUNTA; Karen Carter, Louisiana State Representative; and Wendy Kopp, Founder and CEO of Teach for America.

The John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards Committee is co-chaired by John Shattuck, CEO, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, and former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor; and Bill Purcell, Director, Harvard’s Institute of Politics and former Mayor, Nashville, Tennessee. Committee members are: Ranny Cooper, President & COO, Weber Shandwick Public Affairs, former Chief of Staff for Senator Edward M. Kennedy; Dan Fenn, former member of President John F. Kennedy’s staff, and former Director of the John F. Kennedy Library; Carol Fulp, Vice President of Community Relations, John Hancock Financial Services; Alan Khazei, founder and former CEO, CityYear, and founder, Be The Change; Kica Matos, Community Service Administrator, City of New Haven; recipient, 2005 New Frontier Award; Kristin McSwain, National Director, AmeriCorp; Rick Musiol, Chief of Staff, Massachusetts Senate President Therese Murray; and Barbara Souliotis, State Director, Office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and Harvard University’s Institute of Politics both have their origins in the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Inc., a non-profit corporation that was chartered in Massachusetts on December 5, 1963, to construct and equip the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Massachusetts.

The Kennedy Library Corporation raised more than $20 million for both the construction of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, and for the creation and endowment of an institute at Harvard for the study of politics and public affairs. More than 30 million people from around the world, including school children, contributed to the fund.

In 1966, the Kennedy Library Corporation presented Harvard University with an endowment for the creation of the Institute of Politics. A living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, Harvard University’s Institute of Politics was created to compliment the work of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum by helping to inspire students, particularly undergraduates, to enter careers in politics and public service, and to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the academic community and the political world.

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation provides financial support, staffing, and creative resources for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history, and culture, the process of governing and the importance of public service.

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Further Information:

Brent Carney (617) 514-1662
JFK Library Foundation
Brent.Carney@JFKLFoundation.org
Esten Perez (617) 496-4009
Harvard’s Institute of Politics
Esten_Perez@harvard.edu