Fifteen-Year-Old Takes Top Honors in John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

April 13, 2006 
MEDIA CONTACT: Brent Carney (617) 514-1662  

Read Ben Loffredo’s 2006 Winning Essay

Boston, MABen Loffredo, a sophomore at the Fieldston School in New York City, will be honored by Caroline Kennedy and other members of President Kennedy's family during the May 22, 2006 Profile in Courage Award ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston for his prize-winning entry in the national John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest for High School Students. 

The annual Profile in Courage Essay Contest invites students from across the nation to write an essay about a political issue at the local, state or national level and an elected official in the United States who is acting or acted courageously to address that issue. The contest is a companion program of the Profile in Courage Award, named for President Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, which recounts the stories of American statesmen, the obstacles they faced, and the special valor they demonstrated despite the risks. The essay contest is sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and generously supported by Fidelity Investments. Ben Loffredo will receive a $3,000 award for his first place essay. 

This year 1,861 students submitted essays from across the nation, including forty-nine states and American citizens studying in Germany, Guam, Holland, Japan, Saipan, and Suriname. 

In his winning essay, "Profile in Courage: Senator Hatfield and the Defeat of the Balanced Budget Amendment", Ben Loffredo describes how former Senator Mark Hatfield defied enormous party pressure when he cast the sole Republican vote against the Balanced Budget Amendment in 1995. The amendment would have restricted the government's control over discretionary spending, possibly limiting essential programs for those in need. Loffredo explains that Hatfield believed it was wrong to dictate fiscal policy through a constitutional amendment. Hatfield's vote prevented the passage of the amendment and jeopardized his position as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Loffredo's essay convincingly proves Hatfield's political courage in the face of persistent, disparaging attacks from friends and colleagues. 

"Congratulations to Ben Loffredo", said John Shattuck, CEO of the Kennedy Library Foundation. "His award-winning essay was singled out from the nearly two-thousand that were submitted this year. The essay contest honors President Kennedy who believed deeply in the power of the individual and the promise of our nation's young people to make a difference in our world. It is gratifying to see how readily students today can identify and understand acts of political courage and their importance in our democratic society." 

"Fidelity's commitment to civic responsibility is a long, proud tradition," said Doug Reed, Senior Vice President of Regional Management and Public Affairs for Fidelity Investments. "We are pleased to support this contest to encourage student leadership and civic engagement. Fidelity Investments congratulates Ben Loffredo, and all of the participants, for their interest in government, civic involvement, and political courage." 

Ben Loffredo is the son of Helen Hershkoff and Stephen Loffredo. Ben plays the cello in a metropolitan youth symphony, part of the InterSchool Orchestras of New York, is on the school tennis team, and designs sets for his school's theater productions. Ben is also a class representative in the Fieldston School's student government and is interested in politics and political life. 

As Ben's nominating teacher, Joe Kleinman of the Fieldston School will receive a John F. Kennedy Public Service Grant in the amount of $500 to be used for school projects that encourage student leadership and civic engagement. 

Loffredo and his parents will be the guests of the Kennedy family and the Kennedy Library Foundation at the May 22 Profile in Courage Award ceremony in Boston. Loffredo will share the stage with this year's Profile in Courage Award recipients, Former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora and U.S. Representative John Murtha. 

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award is presented annually to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences. 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. Described by one recipient as the Nobel in Government, the Profile in Courage Award is represented by a sterling-silver lantern symbolizing a beacon of hope. The lantern was designed by Edwin Schlossberg and crafted by Tiffany & Co. 

The winning essay by Loffredo was chosen by a distinguished bipartisan committee of national, political, and community leaders. John Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, chairs the thirteen-member Profile in Courage Award Committee. Committee members are Michael Beschloss, author and presidential historian; David Burke, former president of CBS News; U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi); Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund; Antonia Hernandez, president and chief executive officer of the California Community Foundation; Al Hunt, Washington managing editor of Bloomberg News; Elaine Jones, former director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Caroline Kennedy, president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts); Paul G. Kirk, Jr., chairman of the board of directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine); and Patricia M. Wald, former judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. John Shattuck, chief executive officer of the Kennedy Library Foundation, staffs the Committee. Mr. Shattuck is a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and a former U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic. 

Sang Jung, a junior at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut who submitted an essay on former Attorney General Michael Moore is being recognized as the second place winner in this year's contest. Jung will receive a $1000 price for this recognition. Five students were also recognized as finalists in the competition. Those students being recognized as finalists are: George Bogden, a junior at Punahou Academy in Honolulu, Hawaii and Jacqueline Byrd, a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Virginia who both wrote essays about Senator Paul Wellstone; Wendy Cai, a sophomore at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, Arizona who wrote her essay on Congressman David Wu; Megan Cox, a senior at La Salle High School in Milwaukie, Oregon who wrote about Senator Ben Westlund; and Stephanie Ng, a senior at Bellaire Senior High School in Bellaire Texas who wrote her essay on former City Alderman James Cunningham Murray. Each finalist receives a $500 prize. 

Fidelity first began supporting the national essay contest in 2001. Students and teachers who participate in the Profile in Courage Essay Contest also benefit from two other generous in-kind donations. HarperCollins Publishers has donated copies of Profiles in Courage, President Kennedy's Pulitzer-Prize winning book, and Hyperion Books has donated copies of Caroline Kennedy's Profiles in Courage for Our Time, a book of 13 essays honoring recipients of the Profile in Courage Award since its establishment in 1989. Copies of the two books have been distributed to teachers and schools to enrich classroom teaching and curriculum projects, as well as to encourage students to enter the Profile in Courage Essay Contest. 

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum is a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration and supported, in part, by the Kennedy Library Foundation, a non-profit organization. The 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.