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Innovation & Startups

The Heinz Awards recognizes five great Americans pushing the country forward


 The Heinz Awards were announced this week recognizing five recipients from across the country whose pioneering work is an inspiration to the world.
 
This year’s winners are rock stars of innovation in their perspective fields. A doctor who has revolutionized community health care using video conferencing technology; a social media entrepreneur who is using social media to empower people to lift themselves out of poverty; an environmental scientist who is seeking sustainable solutions to the world’s food supply.
 
“This year’s Heinz Award recipients show that the antidote for the uncertainty and fears of our times lies where it always has—the imagination, determination, brilliance and creativity of the people among us who see possibilities where others see only barriers,” says Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation.
 
The theme of technological innovation is woven throughout the work of this year’s winners and overlaps with the strong presence of similar work being conducted in our region, says Kim O’Dell, program director of The Heinz Awards.
 
For example, Dr. Sanjeev Arora, winner in the Public Policy category, has taken widely available video conferencing technology and created a platform that is serving patients in medically underserved areas of New Mexico.
 
Leila Janah of San Francisco, Calif., winner in the Technology, the Economy and Employment category, is the founder of the nonprofit Samasource, which uses the global reach of the Internet to train people in the poorest regions in the world.
 
Janah has extended the concept with a similar program, SamaUSA, aimed at low-income digital workers at community colleges in the U.S. She is also one of the youngest people recognized in the history of The Heinz Awards.
 
The other winners include:
 
Dr. Abraham Verghese of Stanford, Calif., a passionate physician whose critically acclaimed writing documents the belief that healing must go beyond mere science and addresses the art of compassionately healing patients.
 
Dr. Jonathan Foley of St. Paul, Minn., and his wide-ranging research on global environmental systems that addresses agriculture with a plan to double the world’s food production by focusing on improving agricultural efficiency, reducing waste and shifting diets.
 
Salman Kahn of Mountain View, Calif., for his acclaimed Kahn Academy, a nonprofit educational organization that is revolutionizing how millions of students around the globe are learning a wide range of subjects.

The Heinz Awards was established by Teresa Heinz to honor the memory of her late husband, U.S. Senator John Heinz. Administered by the Heinz Family Foundation, they celebrate the accomplishments and spirit of the senator in the areas of: Arts and Humanities; Environment; Human Condition; Public Policy; and Technology, the Economy and Employment.
 
Recipients will receive their awards in Pittsburgh on April 3, 2014.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Kim O’Dell, The Heinz Family Foundation

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