The New Frontier Awards honor young Americans who are changing their communities - and the country - with their commitment to public service. The New Frontier Awards are presented annually to exceptional young Americans under the age of 40 whose contributions in elective office, community service or advocacy demonstrate the impact and value of public service in the spirit of John F. Kennedy.
Mayor of South Bend, IN and CEO of Antipoverty Nonprofit to Receive 2015 John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards
Boston, MA – Pete Buttigieg, the Mayor of South Bend, IN, and Kirsten Lodal, Co-Founder and CEO of LIFT, a non-profit dedicated to providing holistic social services to those struggling with poverty, have been named this year’s recipients of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards. The awards will be presented by Congressman Joe Kennedy III on November 12, 2015 during a private ceremony at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
“Enlisting talented young Americans to help solve our nation’s problems was central to President Kennedy’s vision of a New Frontier,” said Jack Schlossberg, grandson of John F. Kennedy and a member of the New Frontier Awards Committee. “Pete Buttigieg is an inspiring example both in his innovative leadership of South Bend and in his service to country as a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve. Kirsten Lodal’s novel approach to addressing the often complicated causes of poverty is transforming the lives of countless people in need. They both represent a new generation of leaders who are making a difference in our world.”
The John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards were created by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and Harvard University’s Institute of Politics to honor Americans under the age of 40 who are changing their communities and the country with their commitment to public service. The awards are presented annually to two exceptional individuals whose contributions in elective office, community service, or advocacy demonstrate the impact and the value of public service in the spirit of John F. Kennedy.
One of the New Frontier Awards honors an elected official whose work demonstrates the importance of elective service as a way to address a public challenge or challenges. This award, called the Fenn Award, is presented to a young elected official in honor of Dan Fenn, the Kennedy Library’s first director and a former member of President Kennedy’s staff. The other New Frontier Award honors an individual whose contributions in the realm of community service, advocacy or grassroots activism have had a positive impact on a broad public policy issue or challenge.
Mayor, South Bend, Indiana
Fenn Award Recipient
In January 2012, at age 29, Pete Buttigieg became the youngest mayor to serve a U.S. city of more than 100,000 people, and he quickly established South Bend as a model for municipal innovation and smart government.
Buttigieg led the implementation of a landmark open data policy in South Bend, including a website that provides freely accessible, user-friendly and transparent data about the city. He also launched the “311” system, which allows residents to identify issues or concerns via smartphone and then track the city’s follow-up. The city, in turn, collects data from the system to analyze its own performance.
In 2013, Buttigieg proposed an ambitious project to address a surge in abandoned homes in the city: the Vacant and Abandoned Property Initiative called for the demolition or refurbishment of 1,000 homes in 1,000 days. Buttigieg launched a partnership with Code for America, a nonprofit that offers technological support to communities seeking to solve core public problems. Under the partnership, South Bend developed an innovative approach to data collection and property assessment, and met its goal of addressing 1,000 vacant homes before 1,000 days had passed.
Pete Buttigieg serves as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve; in 2014, he was deployed to Afghanistan for a seven-month tour of duty. A graduate of Harvard University, he was born and raised in South Bend.
Co-Founder and CEO of LIFT
Kirsten Lodal co-founded LIFT, an innovative anti-poverty nonprofit, during her sophomore year at Yale University. While volunteering in Head Start programs focused on at-risk children, Lodal was struck by the lack of comprehensive support services available to the parents of the children she served. She and co-founder Brian Kreiter established LIFT, then called National Student Partnerships, as a one-stop resource center for low-income adults who were struggling to support themselves and their families. Lodal has served as CEO since its founding.
LIFT strives to address the complicated, often disparate causes of poverty by pairing highly trained volunteers with low-income individuals and families. LIFT volunteers, who represent a cross-section of the community from graduate students to retirees, provide ongoing one-on-one support to help those in need gain access to crucial resources such as food and housing assistance, job training, educational opportunities, health care, and more. Equally, volunteers serve as mentors and advocates in helping those they serve to develop life skills and professional networks to break the cycle of poverty. Lodal is now focusing on incorporating the latest science related to brain development into LIFT’s work, to interrupt the inter-generational transmission of poverty by helping low-income and poor parents mitigate toxic stress and early adversity for their children.
Kirsten Lodal has built LIFT into a national model for poverty alleviation. Thousands of LIFT volunteers have provided critical support and advocacy to more than 100,000 individuals and families seeking better lives. LIFT now operates resource centers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Lodal is the mother of two young girls and is expecting her third child in March 2016.
About the New Frontier Awards
At the New Frontier Awards ceremony, Congressman Kennedy will present Buttigieg and each with a ship’s navigational compass in a wooden box bearing the inscription: “We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier….I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier.” – John F. Kennedy.
The New Frontier Awards are named after President Kennedy's bold challenge to Americans given in his acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention on July 15, 1960:
We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier…a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils -- a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats. The New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises -- it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their pride, not to their pocketbook -- it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security…. Beyond that frontier are the uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. It would be easier to shrink back from that frontier, to look to the safe mediocrity of the past, to be lulled by good intentions and high rhetoric…but I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier.
Past recipients of the New Frontier Awards include Svante Myrick, Mayor of Ithaca, New York, Nina Dudnik, Founder and CEO, Seeding Labs, Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org; Cory A. Booker, U.S. Senator and former Mayor of Newark, New Jersey; U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles; Wendy Kopp, Founder and CEO of Teach for America; Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General; Rebecca Onie, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Health Leads; and Zainab Salbi, Founder and CEO of Women for Women International.
A distinguished bipartisan committee of political and community leaders selected Buttigieg and Lodal based on their contributions to the public and their embodiment of the forward-looking public idealism to which President Kennedy hoped young Americans would aspire. The 2015 John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards Committee was chaired by Heather Campion, Chief Executive Officer, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and Maggie Williams, Director, Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Committee members are: Ranny Cooper, President & COO, Weber Shandwick Public Affairs and former Chief of Staff for Senator Edward M. Kennedy; The Honorable William “Mo” Cowan, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, ML Strategies and former United States Senator (D-MA); Dan Fenn, former member of President John F. Kennedy’s staff and former Director of the John F. Kennedy Library; Tina Flournoy, Chief of Staff, Office of President Clinton, The Clinton Foundation; The Honorable Rachel Kaprielian, Regional Director, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and 1999 recipient, Fenn Award; Vivien Li, President and CEO, Riverlife, and former President, The Boston Harbor Association; Kica Matos, Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice, Center for Community Change and recipient, 2005 New Frontier Award; Kristin McSwain, Executive Director, Boston Opportunity Agenda and former Director, Americorps; The Honorable Doug Palmer, Former Mayor, Trenton, New Jersey; Aneesh Raman, Former Vice President of Marketing and Audience Development, OZY Media and former domestic policy speechwriter, President Barack Obama; Kristen Soltis Anderson, GOP strategist, columnist, The Daily Beast and Fellow, Institute of Politics, Fall 2014; Jack Schlossberg, grandson of President John F. Kennedy; Barbara Souliotis, former State Director, Office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy; and The Honorable Richard Tisei, Former Minority Leader, Massachusetts Senate.
The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and Harvard University’s Institute of Politics both have their origins in the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Inc., a non-profit corporation that was chartered in Massachusetts on December 5, 1963, to construct and equip the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Massachusetts.
About the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation
The mission of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation is to carry President Kennedy’s legacy forward. We aim to inspire and engage Americans and people throughout the world with his timeless vision and ideals of building a positive future through peace, optimism, innovation and service. The Foundation also supports the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in their efforts to preserve and provide public access to historical materials related to President Kennedy and his administration, and to provide a dynamic, inspiring and educational experience for visitors.
About the Harvard University’s Institute of Politics
Harvard University’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, was established in 1966 as a memorial to President Kennedy. The IOP’s mission is to create the future of politics and public service every day, inspiring undergraduates to lead lives of purpose by committing themselves to the practice of politics, governing, public service and the countless opportunities to make a difference in the world. More information is available online at www.iop.harvard.edu.