Leader in Climate Change and Jackson, Mississippi Mayor to Receive John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards

March 22, 2022
Media Contact:
Matt PorterJFK Library Foundation
Lauren Miller, Institute of Politics

Leader in Climate Change and Jackson, Mississippi Mayor to Receive John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards

BOSTON – Climate leader Jasmine Davenport and Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba will receive the 2022 John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards, joining a prominent list of young elected and public service leaders.

Our Climate Executive Director Jasmine Davenport (formerly Sanders) will receive the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award for her leadership in galvanizing young people across the country to advocate for environmental justice. Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, the youngest mayor in the history of the city, will also be honored with the New Frontier Award for his efforts to implement progressive policies to improve the lives of all the citizens in the city of Jackson. The awards will be presented by Jack Schlossberg, President Kennedy’s grandson, during a ceremony on March 26 at 3:00pm at the Campaign Conference at the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School, which is being held virtually this year.

“With his vision for a New Frontier, President Kennedy challenged young Americans to take on great challenges, solve complex problems and work for a better future,” said Schlossberg, who is a member of the New Frontier Awards Committee. “Jasmine Davenport and Mayor Lumumba have each answered President Kennedy’s call to action in our time, taking on some of the greatest challenges facing our country today. Their courage is a reminder that each of us can make a difference.”

Created by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School, the New Frontier Awards 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.

For more information visit the Kennedy Presidential Library’s website at www.jfklibrary.org or the Institute of Politics’ website at www.iop.harvard.edu.

If you are interested in covering this event, please RSVP to lauren_miller@hks.harvard.edu by 5PM on Thursday, March 24th.

Jasmine Davenport
Executive Director, Our Climate

Jasmine Davenport (formerly Sanders) is a climate scientist, strategist, advocate and native of Monroe, Louisiana. Guided by her southern roots and seeing the impact of climate change on the Gulf Coast, Davenport has been a passionate environmental advocate for over a decade.

In 2020, Davenport was named Executive Director of Our Climate, which empowers young leaders to advocate for equitable and science-based climate policy. Since 2014, the organization has trained and mobilized young people across the country to advance state-level policies that sharply reduce emissions and ensure a just transition to clean energy. Young leaders trained through Our Climate contribute to state campaigns by creatively organizing their communities, sharing their stories with wide-reaching media outlets, and connecting with decision-makers. Since its national campaign launched in 2016, Our Climate has empowered hundreds of students through our leadership development programs, contributed to state climate policy campaigns, and built support for holding polluters accountable.

In 2021, under Davenport’s leadership, the organization mobilized more than 10,000 young leaders to become powerful advocates for equitable, science-based climate policy in their communities, held 142 events and trainings to help spread awareness of climate justice and empower the next generation of climate leaders, and completed more than 40,000 legislative actions to build momentum for climate justice policy.

Chokwe Antar Lumumba
Mayor, Jackson, Mississippi

Chokwe Antar Lumumba made history in 2017 when he became the youngest person to be elected mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. While in office, Mayor Lumumba has focused on expanding Jackson’s digital economic strength, making community oversight of police more transparent, improving the city’s infrastructure, and creating an education partnership to improve public schools. Lumumba won reelection in 2021 with almost seventy percent of the vote.

Mayor Lumumba is currently behind efforts to replace the entire water meter system in the city with a more modern and efficient system. It comes on the heels of the Mayor’s lawsuit against the previous company who installed the system, which led to the largest settlement in the history of the city: over $89 million. The Mayor has also remained firmly committed to worker rights in Jackson. When he came to office, city workers were on a furlough, but the Mayor has was able to both end the furlough and raise the salary of police officers out of the academy, the first raise in more than ten years. He has also been one of the only mayors in the country to eliminate health insurance premiums for all city workers, which also has resulted in a pay bump for employees.

About the New Frontier Awards
At the New Frontier Awards ceremony, Jack Schlossberg will present Davenport and Lumumba 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 Pete Buttigieg, the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Kirsten Lodal, Co-Founder and CEO of LIFT; Svante Myrick, Mayor of Ithaca, New York, Nina Dudnik, Founder and CEO, Seeding Labs; Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org; Stacey Abrams, House Minority Leader for the Georgia General Assembly and State Representative for the 89th House District; Cory A. Booker, U.S. Senator and former Mayor of Newark, New Jersey; Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles; Wendy Kopp, Founder and CEO of Teach for America; and Zainab Salbi, Founder and CEO of Women for Women International.

A distinguished bipartisan committee of political and community leaders selected Davenport and Lumumba 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.

Jack Schlossberg chairs the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards Committee and Rachel Flor, Executive Director, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and Mark Gearan, Director, Institute of Politics, Harvard Kennedy School, serve as Vice Chairs.

Committee members are: Carolyn Casey, Founder and Executive Director of Project 351; Samson Cohen, J.D. Candidate, Harvard Law School; U.S. Navy veteran; Ranny Cooper, Senior Consultant, Weber Shandwick Public Affairs; Chief of Staff for Senator Edward M. Kennedy (1982-92); Doug Heye, Political Commentator, CNN; Contributor, Wall Street Journal; Fall 2015 Resident Fellow, Institute of Politics; Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (2012-14); The Honorable Rachel Kaprielian MPA, U.S. Government Relations, McDonald's Corporation; Secretary, Labor and Workforce Development, Commonwealth of Massachusetts (2013-2015); 1999 Recipient, Fenn Award; Julie Ryder Lammers, Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy, American Student Assistance; Steering Committee Member, JFK Library Foundation’s New Frontier Network; Vivien Li, Commissioner, Boston Municipal Lobbying Compliance Commission; Carly Lindgren, MBA Candidate, Harvard Business School; Policy Advisor, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (2015-17); The Honorable Svante Myrick, Mayor, Ithaca, NY; 2014 New Frontier Award Recipient; The Honorable Doug Palmer, Mayor, Trenton, NJ (1990-2010); Aneesh Raman ‘01, Senior Advisor on Economic Strategy and External Affairs to California Governor Gavin Newsom; Jack Schlossberg, grandson of President John F. Kennedy; The Honorable Michael Tubbs, Mayor, Stockton, CA (2016-2020); 2019 New Frontier Award Recipient; Aidan Wells, Harvard University Class of 2023, majoring in Government with a focus in Public Policy, and a current JFK Library Foundation Intern.

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and Harvard Kennedy School’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 is the non-profit partner and creative collaborator of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, which is administered by the United States National Archives and Records Administration. Over the past forty years, this partnership has produced world class exhibits, the largest, most advanced digital archive created by a presidential library, award-winning educational and digital resources, and public programs that make the Library the largest convener of public dialogues in the Boston area. Grounded in the archival evidence, these activities promote a greater appreciation of America’s political and cultural heritage, help people understand the major challenges facing democracy today, and inspire new generations to engage with the issues at the heart of contemporary life that relate to the legacy of President John F. Kennedy.

About the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School
The Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School was established in 1966 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. The Institute strives to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the academic world and the world of politics and public affairs. More information is available online at http://www.iop.harvard.edu.