Campus & Community

Citizen activists honored at KSG for challenging injustice

3 min read

Kennedy School of Government (KSG) alumna Michelle Rhee, M.P.P. ’97, was among a dozen individuals honored with the 2004 Citizen Activist Award by the Gleitsman Foundation on Monday (March 22). Designed to honor those who have challenged social injustice in the United States, the award is presented in alternating years with the International Activist Award.

The reception and ceremony, hosted by former White House adviser David Gergen, public service professor at KSG, took place at the Taubman Building’s Allison Dining Room. Honorees share a $100,000 prize and receive a sculpture designed by Maya Lin, the creator of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

“It’s no secret that we have an education crisis in America, particularly in inner-city schools and communities where qualified teachers, books, and adequate facilities are often lacking,” stated foundation president Alan L. Gleitsman. “We applaud the passionate work of our 10 honorees and hope that others will be inspired to make a difference.”

The 2004 Citizen Activist Award winners are as follows:

Christopher Barbic

initiated YES Preparatory School in Texas in 1998, the only state-chartered public high school in the United States that provides inner-city students with a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. To graduate, students must be accepted to a four-year college or university.

Yvonne Chan

is a pioneer in the national charter school movement. In 1993, she converted the struggling public school to which she was assigned into the Vaughn Next Century Learning Center, now a model for nationwide educational reform.

Michael Feinberg


David Levin

have dramatically expanded their KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) from its start as a single classroom in Houston in 1994 to 32 public charter and contract schools in 26 cities focusing solely on grades five through eight.

Bertha Lewis

has led ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) to become one of the nation’s most effective organizations in the struggle to improve and reform public schools, inspiring ACORN leaders across the country.

Michelle Rhee

, M.P.P. ’97, is founder, president, and CEO of the New Teacher Project, a revenue-generating nonprofit that has revolutionized the way that teachers are brought into their profession. In six years, the project has attracted more than 10,000 high-quality teachers in 18 states.

Mark Rosenbaum

, lead attorney for the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, conceived and shepherded the comprehensive statewide litigation seeking to ensure equal access to the fundamental components of education to all students.

J.B. Schramm

originated College Summit in 1993 to put students with low expectations through a three-day college preparation marathon that now enables 79 percent of applicants to get into college and 80 percent of those to graduate.

Agnes Stevens

, a retired elementary school teacher, began School on Wheels in 1993, and now, with 200 volunteers and 300 tutors, brings educational opportunities to 2,500 homeless children in 60 shelters in Los Angeles County.

Margot Stern Strom

created Facing History and Ourselves to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and anti-Semitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.

Kevin Sved


Jonathan Williams

, former public school teachers, started the Accelerated School, which now serves 600 K through grade nine students in Los Angeles’ inner city, and was named Time magazine’s 2001 Elementary School of the Year.