2013 Honorees

From Legend to Legacy

Denyce Graves - Marian Anderson Living Legacy Award
The Honorable Sally Jewell - Rachel Carson Living Legacy Award
Dr. Etta Pisano - Dr. Helen Taussig Living Legacy Award
Phylicia Rashad - Lena Horne Living Legacy Award
Ken Burns - Henry Blackwell Award


Marian Anderson (1897-1993) was a world-renowned contralto and one of the most accomplished singers in the United States during the 1930s. She was the first African American entertainer to perform at the White House, in 1936 and 1939. She was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, the Kennedy Center Honors in 1978, the National Medal of Arts in 1986, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991.

Rachel Carson (1907-1964) was a marine biologist and nature writer credited with catalyzing the global environmental movement. Her book Silent Spring led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides, and the grassroots environmental movement the book inspired led to the creation of the federal Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. In its collection of the 100 most important people of the 20th Century, Time magazine said: "Before there was an environmental movement, there was one brave woman and her very brave book."

Dr. Helen Taussig (1898-1986) became the head of Johns Hopkins' Children's Heart Clinic in 1930 and remained at the clinic until she retired in 1963. In 1941, Taussig developed a surgical procedure to correct "blue baby" syndrome, a defect that causes some babies' hearts to not receive enough oxygen. In 1954, she was one of the first women to be awarded full professorship at Johns Hopkins and was the first woman to become President of the American Heart Association in 1965.

Lena Horne (1917-2010) was one of the most popular entertainers of the twentieth century, famous for her singing and acting, and was the first African American to have a contract with a major Hollywood movie studio. In addition, she was a strong Civil Rights activist refusing to sing to segregated audiences during WWII, participating in NCAA rallies and the March on Washington, and working with Eleanor Roosevelt to pass anti-lynching laws.


Recognized worldwide as one of today's most exciting vocal stars, Denyce Graves continues to gather unparalleled popular and critical acclaim in performances on four continents. USA Today identifies her as "an operatic superstar of the 21st Century," and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution exclaims, "if the human voice has the power to move you, you will be touched by Denyce Graves."

Denyce Graves made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1995-96 season in the title role of Carmen. She returned the following season to lead the new Franco Zeffirelli production of this work, conducted by James Levine, and she sang the opening night performance of the Metropolitan Opera's 1997-98 season as Carmen opposite Plácido Domingo. She was seen again that season as Bizet's gypsy on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera for Domingo's 30th Anniversary Gala, and she made her debut in Japan as Carmen, opposite the Don Jose of Roberto Alagna. Ms. Graves appeared in a new production of Samson et Dalila opposite Placido Domingo at the Metropolitan Opera, and she performed Act III of this work opposite Mr. Domingo to open the Met's season in 2005. She was partnered again with Mr. Domingo in the 1999 season-opening performances of this work for Los Angeles Opera. She was seen as Saint-Saens seductress with Royal Opera, Covent Garden and The Washington Opera, both opposite Jose Cura - the latter under the baton of Maestro Domingo, as well as with Houston Grand Opera. Her debut in this signature role came in 1992 with the Chicago Symphony at the Ravinia Festival under the direction of James Levine and opposite Mr. Domingo and Sherrill Milnes, and she made a return engagement to the Festival in this same role in 1997.

Ms. Graves's 2012-13 season includes two world premieres; she creates the roles of Mrs. Miller in Minnesota Opera's New Works Initiative commission of Doubt composed by Douglas J. Cuomo, and directed by Kevin Newbury, and of Emelda in Champion by Terence Blanchard at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. The season also marks two role debuts for Ms. Graves as Herodias in Strauss's Salome at Palm Beach Opera, and Katisha in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Ms. Graves makes numerous concert and recital performances including at Opera Carolina, Arizona Musicfest, National Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, and several prestigious universities throughout the nation. As Ms. Graves's dedication to teaching the singers of the next generation continues to be an important part of her career, she joins the voice faculty of the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore.


Sally Jewell was sworn in as the 51st Secretary of the Interior on April 12, 2013. In nominating Jewell, President Obama said, "She is an expert on the energy and climate issues that are going to shape our future...She knows the link between conservation and good jobs. She knows that there's no contradiction between being good stewards of the land and our economic progress; that in fact, those two things need to go hand in hand."

As Secretary of the Interior, Jewell leads an agency with more than 70,000 employees. Interior serves as steward for approximately 20 percent of the nation's lands, including national parks, and national wildlife refuges; oversees the responsible development of conventional and renewable energy supplies on public lands and waters; is the largest supplier and manager of water in the 17 Western states; and upholds trust responsibilities to the 566 federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.

Prior to her confirmation, Jewell was most recently President and CEO of Recreation Equipment, Inc. (REI). She joined REI as Chief Operating Officer in 2000 and was named CEO in 2005. During her tenure, REI nearly tripled in business and was consistently ranked one of the 100 best companies to work for by Fortune Magazine. Before joining REI, she spent 19 years as a commercial banker, first as an energy and natural resources expert and later working with a diverse array of businesses. Trained as a petroleum engineer, Jewell started her career with Mobil Oil Corp. in the oil and gas fields of Oklahoma.


Dr. Etta Pisano joined the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) as Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the College of Medicine on July 1, 2010. Prior to accepting the position at MUSC, Etta served as Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine, Kenan Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering, Director of the UNC Biomedical Research Imaging Center, and Director of the N.C. Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute. She is an expert in breast cancer imaging and, from 1989 to 2005, she served as the Chief of Breast Imaging at UNC Hospitals. Her undergraduate degree in Philosophy is from Dartmouth College and her medical degree is from Duke University. Etta's professional interests center around the development, application and testing of imaging technology for the early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer and other breast problems.

Etta was born in New York City and was raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. After completing a rotating internship in a community-based program in Pensacola, Florida, she completed her radiology residency at Beth Israel Hospital of Harvard Medical School. After her residency, she spent a year as Chief of Breast Imaging and Instructor in Radiology at the same institution. She is a Past President of the Association of University Radiologists and the American Association for Women Radiologists, and has been named by Diagnostic Imaging magazine as one of the 20 most influential people in radiology. Etta served as the Principal Investigator of the largest clinical trial ever run by a radiologist, the Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial (DMIST), which enrolled 49,528 women in a study comparing digital to film mammography, the results of which were published in 2005 in the New England Journal of Medicine. Etta was awarded one of the first Ladies' Home Journal Health Breakthrough Awards. In 2003, she was appointed the first Director of the UNC Biomedical Research Imaging Center, a core facility that develops and commercializes new imaging technologies. She successfully raised over $20 million from private donors, industry and the university to support its activities. In 2008 she was elected as a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. She is a recipient of the Gold Medal from the Association of University Radiologists (2010) and the American Roentgen Ray Society (2012), and of the Alice Ettinger Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Association for Women Radiologists (2012).

Recently she co-founded her own company, NextRay, Inc, which will commercialize a device she and the other cofounders invented, a technology which creates medical images using x-rays through diffraction enhanced imaging which provides superior image quality at a dose that is substantially lower than is currently available. This will be most important to children and young adults, and young women undergoing breast cancer screening.


Whether she is bringing laughter to millions of television viewers around the world, moving theatre-goers to tears, thrilling movie fans, offering new insights to students by teaching Master Classes at renowned learning institutions that include Howard University, Julliard, and Carnegie Mellon, serving on Boards of prestigious organizations, or breaking new ground as a director, Phylicia Rashad is one of the entertainment world's most extraordinary performing artists.

A native of Houston, Texas, Rashad graduated Magna Cum Laude from Howard University. A versatile performer, Rashad became a household name when she portrayed Claire Huxtable on The Cosby Show, a character whose appeal has earned her numerous honors and awards for over two decades. She teamed up with Bill Cosby in later years on television as Ruth Lucas on Cosby. Currently, she portrays the role of Dr. Vanessa Young in the NBC series, Do No Harm.

While television was a catalyst in the rise of Rashad's career, she has also been a force on the stage, appearing both on and off-Broadway, often in projects that showcase her musical talent such as Jelly's Last Jam, Into The Woods, Dreamgirls and The Wiz. As a dramatic actress, Rashad has performed on Broadway as Violet Weston in August Osage County, Big Mama in Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (a role that she reprised on the London Stage), Aunt Ester in August Wilson's Gem Of The Ocean, (Tony Award nomination) and Queen Britannia in Shakespeare's Cymbeline at Lincoln Center. Ms. Rashad received both the Drama Desk and the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her riveting performance as Lena Younger in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In The Sun.

Respected in the academic world, Rashad is the first recipient of the Denzel Washington Chair in Theatre at Fordham University. She received an Honorary Doctorate from Spelman College where First Lady Michelle Obama delivered the 2011 commencement address. Rashad also holds Honorary Doctorates from Fordham University, Carnegie Mellon University, Howard University, Providence College, Morris Brown College, Clark Atlanta University, Barber Scotia College, St. Augustine College, and Brown University. Rashad serves on the Advisory Board of the PRASAD Project and the Board of Directors of True Colors Theatre, the Broadway Inspirational Voices, The Actors Center, the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University, and the ADEPT Center which is steering the restoration of the historic Brainerd Institute.

Henry Blackwell Award

The award was created in honor of Henry Blackwell, a 19th century advocate for social and economic reform who was one of the founders of the American Women Suffrage Association, and who published the Woman's Journal, starting in 1870. At a time in our nation's history when women were not full American citizens, Henry Blackwell not only championed women's rights, he renounced all non-mutual rights given legally to a husband in marriage, when he married suffragist Lucy Stone in 1855. Blackwell's life-long dedication to the cause of both woman suffrage and society's acceptance of the inherent worth and dignity of women was the inspiration for the creation of this award.

<--Go back to NWHM website