CPB Media Room

Anna Deavere Smith Honored by Corporation for Public Broadcasting as a Champion of Public Media

  • July 20, 2012

Smith received CPB’s Thought Leader Award and shared her thoughts on what it takes for students to succeed

Washington, D.C. – Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) recently recognized Anna Deavere Smith, actress and playwright, with the CPB Thought Leader Award. Smith was honored for her steadfast support of public media’s commitment to the arts, education and storytelling.

Smith received the award at the Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC) last week in Seattle. Joined by Patricia Harrison, CPB president and CEO, Smith discussed how to help students succeed in the classroom and beyond by “switching on their power of genius.” The conversation was part of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, a public media initiative made possible by CPB to help communities across the country identify and implement solutions to the high school dropout crisis.

“We are proud to honor Anna Deavere Smith as a thought leader,” said Harrison. “She is a champion of the service that public radio and television stations across the country provide to their local communities, and a strong supporter of helping young people access their unique talents and gifts to keep them on a path to a promising future.”

Throughout the year, the CPB Thought Leader Series engages American leaders in business, government, science, history, education, journalism and the arts to discuss the essential service public media provides to our citizens and our democracy. The series also highlights the value American citizens receive from the public and private funding provided for this service.

Anna Deavere Smith is said to have created a new theater form. She is the recipient of several awards and prizes, including a MacArthur fellowship, two Tony nominations and others. She was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize for her play "Fires in the Mirror." Smith’s most recent one-person show, "Let Me Down Easy," toured the U.S. and was broadcast on "Great Performances." She has appeared in "Nurse Jackie," "The West Wing," "The American President" and "Philadelphia." She has received several honorary degrees, among them from Juilliard, University of Pennsylvania, Spellman and Williams, and is a recipient of the Radcliffe Medal. Smith is University Professor at NYU and founding director, Anna Deavere Smith Works, which supports artists from around the world whose work addresses issues of social justice.

About American Graduate The public media initiative, American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen, is helping communities across America identify and implement solutions to address the high school dropout crisis. Made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the multi-year campaign is designed to raise awareness and dialogue through national and local multiplatform programming. Targeting communities with highest dropout rates, the initiative also increases local engagement and action through collaborations and partnerships, and increases student engagement through teacher professional development and classroom curricula. Public radio and television stations – locally owned and operated – reach 99% of the country over the air, have built models for successful intervention in early learning, and have deep connections in the communities they serve. More than 600 partnerships have been formed locally through American Graduate and CPB is partnering with America's Promise Alliance and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Visit American Graduate on Facebook, Twitter or AmericanGraduate.org.

About CPB

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,400 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.

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