For Immediate Release: March 17, 2004
Further information: Ann Scanlon 617-514-1662
Boston, MA - The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation announced today that Nike C.E.O. Philip Knight has given a $1 million gift to the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award program. Knight made the private donation in honor of Kennedy Library Foundation Board member Richard K. Donahue, Sr., who served as Founding Chairman of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Committee.
As Founder and Chairman of Nike, Inc., Knight made his gift to honor Donahue - who served as Nike's President from 1990 to 1994 - on the occasion of Donahue being named "Irishman of the Year" by the Friends of the John F. Kennedy Library.
"I made this contribution because of my high regard for Dick and the sacrifice that he made for Nike and for me personally," Knight said.
The gift, which was unveiled at the Irishman of the Year ceremony Monday night, is the largest gift ever made to the JFK Profile in Courage Award, which is presented each May by Caroline Kennedy, President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and Senator Edward M. Kennedy at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston.
"Phil Knight's extraordinary generosity honors Dick Donahue's deeply held belief in the importance of political courage, integrity and independence in public life," said Paul G. Kirk, Jr., Chairman of the Kennedy Library Foundation's Board of Directors. "Elected officials who risk their political careers by adhering to conscience for the public good are the inspirations for a more perfect democracy. Permanent funding of this award will assure that future generations of 'profiles in courage' will be recognized and honored with what has been hailed as 'the Nobel Prize for Government.' Phil Knight's gift honoring Dick Donahue's leadership in civic and corporate life moves us toward that goal. As we seek to match this exemplary gift, we ask those who value political courage to join us in building a permanent fund for the Profile in Courage Award."
Jill Ker Conway, Chair of the Kennedy Library Foundation's Development Committee, announced the major gift on behalf of Knight in anticipation of a forthcoming fundraising campaign for the Profile in Courage Award program, which marks its 15th anniversary in 2005.
The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award is presented annually to an elected official who has withstood strong opposition from constituents, powerful interest groups, or adversaries to follow what she or he believes is the right course of action. Past recipients include former U.S. President Gerald Ford, U.S. Senators John McCain and Russell Feingold, U.S. Representative John Lewis, California State Senator Hilda Solis, former Palos Heights, Illinois, Mayor Dean Koldenhoven, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes; former South Carolina Governor David Beasley; and former Georgia State Representative Dan Ponder, Jr.
The award is named for President Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, which recounts the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers to fight for what they believed in. The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation created the Profile in Courage Award in 1989 to honor President Kennedy's commitment and contribution to public service. It is presented in May in celebration of President Kennedy's May 29th birthday.
Recipients of this year's Profile in Courage Award were announced yesterday. They are Sima Samar, an Afghan medical doctor who ignored death threats and defied the Taliban for twelve years to provide Afghan girls and women with access to health care and education and who, after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, became the first woman to be appointed to a cabinet position in the interim Afghan government. Former North Carolina State Representative Cindy Watson (R) and former Oklahoma State Senator Paul Muegge (D) were also announced as recipients of the 2004 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Awards for their courage in standing up to the powerful hog industry in their respective states in order to protect the environment and the health and well-being of their constituents.
Richard K. Donahue was a Massachusetts delegate to the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles and served as an assistant to President John F. Kennedy in the White House from 1961 to 1963. Donahue, vice chairman of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, has maintained a private law practice since 2001. Prior to establishing his private practice, Donahue was partner in Donahue & Donahue Attorneys from 1995 to 2001. President and chief operating officer of Nike, Inc. from 1990 to 1994, he currently serves as vice chairman of the Board for Nike, where he has been a director since 1977. Donahue is Chair of the Executive Committee of the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, Conciliator of the Lowell Superior Court Conciliation Program, and a Trustee of the Joyce Foundation.
The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum is a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and supported, in part, by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization. The Kennedy Library 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.