For Immediate Release: November 13, 2014
Rachel Flor (617) 514-1662
JFK Library Foundation
Esten Perez (617) 496-4009
The Institute of Politics
Boston, MA – Svante Myrick, the pioneering Mayor of Ithaca, NY, and Nina Dudnik, Founder and CEO of Seeding Labs, an innovative nonprofit that empowers talented scientists in developing countries to conduct life-changing research, have been named this year’s recipients of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards. The awards will be presented by Jack Schlossberg, John F. Kennedy’s grandson and a member of the New Frontier Award Committee, on December 10, 2014 during a private ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
“My grandfather believed that talented young Americans can fulfill our country’s promise through public service,” said Schlossberg, a member of the New Frontier Awards Committee. “Svante Myrick’s leadership is helping to build a better future for the city of Ithaca. Nina Dudnik saw the opportunity for innovation and scientific discovery in developing countries and is providing resources to unlock that potential. They both represent a new generation of leaders determined to make a difference in our country and the world.”
The John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards were created by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and Harvard University’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.
Mayor, Ithaca, New York
Fenn Award Recipient
Svante Myrick became Ithaca’s youngest mayor in 2011, at the age of 24. Since his election, he has championed innovative partnerships and development to spur economic growth and entrepreneurship in Ithaca. Under his leadership, Ithaca has enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate in the state of New York. Myrick also revised zoning policies aimed at increasing downtown Ithaca’s density and livability, and encouraged the adoption of a living wage for city workers. Myrick, whose childhood included periods of homelessness and poverty, began his political career while he was an undergraduate at Cornell University, when he sought and won a seat on the Ithaca Common Council.
Founder and CEO, Seeding Labs
During a Fulbright fellowship in Africa, Nina Dudnik worked with highly skilled scientists who lacked access to the basic tools of scientific research. As a molecular biologist in the U.S., she saw opportunity in the fact that basic research tools were often discarded while they were still useful. She founded Seeding Labs to provide scientists in the developing world with tools and resources to enable vital research. Today Seeding Labs is a growing social enterprise that has provided $2.5 million in equipment to labs in 22 countries, along with training and fellowship programs. Dudnik’s work is supporting students and researchers developing treatments for tuberculosis and malaria, expanding access to clean drinking water, improving crops, and more. Seeding Labs aims to triple its impact over the next three years.
About the New Frontier Awards
At the New Frontier Awards ceremony, Schlossberg will present Myrick and Dudnik 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.
Past recipients of the New Frontier Awards include Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org; Cory A. Booker, U.S. Senator and former Mayor of Newark, New Jersey; U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles; Wendy Kopp, Founder and CEO of Teach for America; Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General; Rebecca Onie, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Health Leads; and Zainab Salbi, Founder and CEO of Women for Women International.
A distinguished bipartisan committee of political and community leaders selected Dudnik and Myrick 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. The 2014 John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards Committee was chaired by Heather Campion, Chief Executive Officer, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and Maggie Williams, Director, Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Committee members are: Ranny Cooper, President & COO, Weber Shandwick Public Affairs and former Chief of Staff for Senator Edward M. Kennedy; The Honorable William “Mo” Cowan, former United States Senator (D-MA) and former Chief of Staff, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick; Dan Fenn, former member of President John F. Kennedy’s staff and former Director of the John F. Kennedy Library; Tina Flournoy, Chief of Staff, Office of President Clinton, The ClintonFoundation; Rachel Kaprielian, Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and 1999 recipient, Fenn Award; Vivien Li, President, The Boston Harbor Association; Kica Matos, Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice, Center for Community Change and recipient, 2005 New Frontier Award; Kristin McSwain, Executive Director, Boston Opportunity Agenda; Kristen Soltis Anderson, GOP strategist, columnist, The Daily Beast; Jack Schlossberg, Yale University student and grandson of President John F. Kennedy; and Barbara Souliotis, former 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.
About the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation
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.
About the Institute of Politics at Harvard University
In 1966, the Kennedy Library Corporation presented Harvard University with an endowment for the creation of the Institute of Politics (IOP). Established as a memorial to President Kennedy, the IOP’s mission is to unite and engage students, particularly undergraduates, with academics, politicians, activists, and policymakers on a non-partisan basis to inspire them to consider careers in politics and public service. Located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Institute strives to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the academic world and the world of politics and public affairs.