Teresa Heinz, chair of the Heinz Family Philanthropies
and the Heinz Endowments and a visionary leader and
passionate philanthropist, will be awarded the 2003 Albert
Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism, Johns Hopkins
announced last week.
Heinz's inspiring work in protecting the environment,
promoting health care and education, and uplifting women
and children around the world was cited as the reason for
Heinz's receiving the award, which the university
administers for the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
"She is really willing to invest herself in these
things she cares passionately about. She doesn't just give
money, but she gives of herself," said Jared L. Cohon,
president of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and
the person who nominated Heinz for the award. "She brings
out the best in people. I applaud her personal and
passionate efforts, but I marvel at the way she brings out
the best in others. She is a catalyst of humanitarian
The Schweitzer Gold Medal, named for medical
missionary, theologian and musician Albert Schweitzer, was
established in New York in 1986 by the Alexander von
Humboldt Foundation to honor von Humboldt's service to
humanity and to advance humanitarianism in the United
States by recognizing exceptional achievement in the
service of humanitarian causes. Previous recipients include
former President George Bush, who received the award in
1997 for his role in negotiating the peaceful unification
of Germany. Recipients of the parallel Schweitzer Prize for
Humanitarianism, also administered by Johns Hopkins for the
foundation, have included Jimmy Carter, Marian Wright
Edelman, Norman Cousins, Ted Turner and C. Everett Koop.
The daughter of a Portuguese doctor, Heinz grew up in
Mozambique, in East Africa, where she developed a passion
for the environment and a respect for nature and the
natural order. She grew up accompanying her father on his
rounds to see patients, and that early experience
profoundly influenced her on issues relating to women's and
children's health. Observers say the worldliness has made
her passionate and humble, an inspiration to others.
With a degree from the Interpreter School at the
University of Geneva, Heinz is fluent in five languages.
Now married to Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, she is the
widow of Sen. John Heinz of Pennsylvania, who died in 1991.
After his death, she was offered an interim appointment to
his seat in Congress, but she chose instead to assume the
stewardship of the Heinz family philanthropic
Since then, she has made the foundations she oversees
widely known and respected for developing innovative
strategies to promote public health, protect the
environment, enhance the lives of young children, improve
education, broaden economic opportunity and support the
The Gold Medal will be awarded at an 8 p.m. ceremony
on Tuesday, Sept. 23, in Shriver Hall Auditorium on the
Two Alexander von Humboldt foundations, named for the
eminent German scientist and explorer, were created by
Alfred Toepfer, an international grain merchant from
Hamburg, Germany. The goal of both the European branch,
chartered in 1959, and the branch based in New York,
chartered in 1979, is to assist and promote environmental
conservation; scientific, literary and charitable
endeavors; and the moral, mental and physical welfare of
Johns Hopkins was selected to administer the U.S.
foundation's Gold Medal because of the special ties that
exist between Germany and the university. Hopkins was
founded in 1876 as the first American university for
graduate studies based on the German model of making
education an intricate part of the research process. The
university's first president, Daniel Coit Gilman, studied
at the University of Berlin.
Today, the university maintains ties to Germany
through the work of the
American Institute for Contemporary German Studies and
through the university's
which is located in Berlin.