Soledad O’Brien Racial Justice Award Press Release

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Soledad O’Brien Racial Justice Award Press Release

April 10, 2014

Media Contacts:

Veronica Byrd, 202-835-2361,
James Grant, 917-626-1300,

Soledad O’Brien to Receive Dorothy I. Height Racial Justice Award at YWCA USA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.

Award-Winning Journalist Recognized by Historic Women’s Organization for Her Contributions to Racial Justice

Washington, D.C. — Award-winning broadcast journalist, executive producer, advocate and philanthropist Soledad O’Brien will be awarded the Dorothy I. Height Award at the YWCA USA Annual Conference on Thursday, June 12, 2014 in Washington, D.C. at the Grand Hyatt Washington.

This award is presented to an individual who has had a national impact in the field of racial justice in the United States. Honorees are selected based on criteria that reflect Dr. Dorothy I. Height’s significant civil rights contributions: service in a leadership role, commitment to racial equity and a high standard of courage, integrity and steadfastness in support of the YWCA’s mission to eliminate racism and empower women.

“For more than two decades, Soledad O’Brien has brought issues of racial justice to the forefront, and right into our living rooms,” said YWCA USA CEO Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D. “From her coverage of major news stories, like Hurricane Katrina and the crisis in Haiti, to her examination of what it means to be black and Latino in America. Through her professional commitment to racial justice, and her personal mission to help disadvantaged young women across the country get a college education, Soledad O’Brien exemplifies the life and work of civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height, and we are honored that she will join us at the 2014 YWCA Annual Conference.”

“I am humbled to receive an award named for civil rights icon Dr. Dorothy Height, who spoke out on issues of race, class and gender, and devoted her life to furthering justice and freedom for not only women, but for people of all races and gender,” said Soledad O’Brien. “Journalism provided me with a national platform to talk about racial issues, to ask the tough questions and have those uncomfortable conversations, and I am committed to continuing that dialogue.”

Soledad O’Brien is a dedicated philanthropist and advocate in the fields of racial justice. Over the past decade, she was at the forefront of the biggest news stories, and she was the originator of the critically acclaimed documentary series on race, Black in America and Latino in America. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, O’Brien co-founded with her husband Brad Raymond “The Soledad O’Brien and Brad Raymond Starfish Foundation,” which awards scholarships to 25 disadvantaged young women to attend college.

The Dorothy I. Height Award is presented as part of the annual YWCA Women of Distinction Awards, which celebrate women from across the United States who have demonstrated excellence, leadership, and integrity in their fields and in their communities, serving as role models for other successful women. For more than 150 years, the YWCA has honored leaders whose work has truly made an impact on women’s empowerment and racial justice. In addition to the Dorothy I. Height award, the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards include honorees for contributions in four key areas of public life: Corporate Social Responsibility, Military/Veterans Affairs, Philanthropy and Policy, and Civic Engagement. Previous honorees at the Women of Distinction Awards gala include former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, actress and activist Eva Longoria, philanthropist Patty Stonesifer, Sharon Love, co-founder of One Love Foundation, and Allstate Insurance Co.

About Soledad O’Brien

Over the past decade, Soledad O’Brien was integral in hosting and developing many award-winning documentaries for CNN, including Black in America and Latino in America; they both among the network’s most successful international franchises. In 2013, O’Brien launched Starfish Media Group, a documentary production company that will develop programming for CNN, Al Jazeera America, HBO and other media outlets. O’Brien has reported on breaking news from around the globe. In 2011, she won an Emmy for Crisis in Haiti, a report on Haitian orphanages. O’Brien also received George Foster Peabody awards for her coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the BP Gulf Coast oil spill, and an Alfred I. duPont Award for her coverage of the Southeast Asia tsunami. In 2010, the National Association of Black Journalists named O’Brien Journalist of the Year. O’Brien is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Harvard University and is on the Board of Directors of the foundation for The National Archives.

About Dorothy I. Height

Dorothy I. Height was a civil rights and women’s rights pioneer and activist who focused primarily on improving the circumstances of and opportunities for African-American women. She was a leader in addressing the rights of both women and African-Americans as the president of the National Council of Negro Women. For 33 years, Dr. Height served on the staff of the National Board of the YWCA of the USA and held several leadership positions. In 1965, she was appointed as the National Director of the Center for Racial Justice for the YWCA USA and tirelessly worked to desegregate all levels of the organization. In the 1990s, she advocated in the war against drugs, illiteracy and unemployment. Dr. Height received numerous honors including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1994) and the Congressional Gold Medal (2004). She died on April 20, 2010 in Washington, D.C.

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