(WASHINGTON, June 4, 2014) — Independent Sector is pleased to announce that Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will receive the 2014 John W. Gardner Leadership Award. The award will be presented at the John W. Gardner Leadership Luncheon on Tuesday, November 18, during the 2014 Independent Sector National Conference in Seattle.
Ibargüen will be honored for his leadership in the fields of journalism, community engagement, and the arts. Also noteworthy is his original and innovative approach to grantmaking, which often employs open contests or involves working with grantees to craft problem-solving strategies, thus serving as a model for the responsive, agile philanthropy of the future. Ibargüen’s grass-roots approach to transformative change entrusts people with their own governance—a central belief that has guided his career.
“Alberto has demonstrated a deep understanding that funding alone cannot solve social problems,” said Wendy Puriefoy, a member of the IS Board of Directors and chair of the 2014 John W. Gardner Leadership Award Committee. “To succeed in the long term, philanthropy must empower citizens with the tools to build for themselves a better community, a better nation, and a better world. Alberto’s creative, bottom-up approach to driving social change makes him a striking example of the kind of leadership the sector needs right now.”
Before joining the Knight Foundation in 2005, Ibargüen was the publisher of The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. His leadership reflected a belief in journalism not only as a craft and a business but, just as importantly, a public service. The Miami Herald won three Pulitzer Prizes under his leadership, while El Nuevo Herald won Spain’s Ortega y Gasset Prize for journalistic excellence.
Today, Ibargüen spearheads the digital transformation of journalism to promote civic participation and democracy, experimenting with new programs and initiatives to engage local communities and share information. As part of this effort, the Knight Foundation he leads is working to foster the growing nonprofit journalism movement, with many organizations supported by the foundation using new technologies to share vital information with their communities.
In the arts field, Ibargüen advocates a two-pronged leadership approach to build arts in the community, with support for major institutions and grass-roots contests to foster community identity through shared cultural experiences. In one initiative, he facilitated more than 1,000 “pop-up arts experiences” into everyday spaces in Miami, Detroit, Philadelphia, and other communities. Arts and journalism, by Ibargüen’s reckoning, serve a powerful role in strengthening communities but work well only when the art and the journalism themselves effectively speak to the soul and intelligence of the community.
In 2009, Ibargüen convened the bipartisan Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy, co-chaired by former Solicitor General Ted Olson and Marissa Mayer, now CEO of Yahoo. The commission’s recommendations heavily influenced a report by the Federal Communications Commission on community information needs. As part of the Knight Commission, Ibargüen put forward a key recommendation emphasizing the importance of affordable, universal broadband access, especially in underserved areas.
“We are delighted to honor Alberto with this year’s Gardner Award,” said IS President and CEO Diana Aviv. “His groundbreaking work in making quality journalism and arts programs more open and available to Americans of all walks of life has truly fueled community engagement. When people in communities are well informed as a result of first-rate reporting and are enlightened by the immense social power of the arts—especially when those efforts emanate from other community members—democracy and society can only grow stronger.”
Ibargüen completed his undergraduate studies at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and obtained his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He has been awarded honorary degrees from Wesleyan University and The George Washington University. He received a Maria Moors Cabot Prize from Columbia University for his work to protect journalists in Latin America.
The John W. Gardner Leadership Award is named after John W. Gardner, the founding chair of Independent Sector. An advisor to six presidents and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Gardner was an active and distinguished participant in America’s educational, philanthropic, and political life, and his many achievements demonstrate the ideals this award celebrates. The award is generously supported by the William Randolph Hearst Foundations and includes a replica of an original bust of John Gardner by the late sculptor Frederick Hart.
Independent Sector is the leadership forum for nonprofits, foundations, and corporations whose member networks collectively represent tens of thousands of organizations locally, nationally, and globally. Learn more at www.independentsector.org.