Klingenstein Center Honors Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey received the 2009 Klingenstein Leadership Award from The Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership, at Teachers College, Columbia University. Winfrey, a global media leader and international philanthropist, was honored for her commitment to improving lives through education.
The Klingenstein Award is given annually to an individual who has influenced the lives of independent school administrators, teachers, parents or students in enduring ways. The selection committee chose Winfrey for her accomplishments in furthering education through the creation of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls— South Africa, an independent school with a mission to nurture leadership among gifted 7th through 12th grade girls from impoverished backgrounds, for her on-going commitment to education through the philanthropic organizations she has founded, and for her promotion of reading through Oprah’s Book Club.
Through her personal foundation, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, she has awarded hundreds of grants to organizations that support the education and empowerment of women, children and families in the United States and throughout the world as well as establishing “The Oprah Winfrey Scholars Program,” an international scholarship program for students determined to use their education to give back to their communities. Her public charity, Oprah’s Angel Network, has helped establish 60 schools in 13 countries, create scholarships, and launch “O Ambassadors” —a school-based program that encourages young people in North America to become active global citizens.
Winfrey—one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century—has used her public persona to increase awareness of educational and societal issues that have a worldwide impact. Her visionary efforts to inspire widespread reading and literary discussion through Oprah’s Book Club were recognized with the 50th Anniversary gold medal from The National Book Foundation for her service to books and authors.
“By raising difficult issues, focusing resources to provide opportunity and increasing empowerment through knowledge, Oprah Winfrey has both changed and improved lives domestically and abroad,” says Teachers College Professor Pearl Rock Kane, Klingenstein Center Director, who presented the award to Winfrey at the annual meeting of the National Association for Independent Schools, in Chicago on February 27th. Kane praised Winfrey for her “professional achievements and public commitment to a more inclusive community, her thoughtful and genuine philanthropy, and the remarkable personal qualities she has modeled for people of all ages and in all stations of society.”
Past recipients of the Klingenstein Leadership Award have included Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point; Teachers College’s Maxine Greene; education journalist Diane Ravitch; the educators and authors Theodore and Nancy Sizer; professor and psychologist Howard Gardner; and the organizational guru Jim Collins. As a way of honoring Winfrey’s commitment to leadership, Klingenstein Center faculty will be traveling to South Africa next year to conduct professional workshops with the faculty of the Leadership Academy for Girls. Says Center Director Pearl Kane, “The Klingenstein Center and Teachers College look forward to meeting the Leadership Academy staff and to the creative exchange of new ideas and techniques to continue to enhance the student experience.”
For more than 30 years, the Klingenstein Center at Teachers College, Columbia University has served as the premier source for graduate and professional development for independent school educators. Teachers College is the oldest and largest graduate school of education in the nation, and perennially ranked among its very best. #