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Rockefeller Foundation Announces 2012 Nomination Process for Jane Jacobs Medal

jane jacobs medal new york city culture leadership

The Rockefeller Foundation announced today that it is opening the public nominating process for the 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal – awarded to two living individuals whose creative vision for the urban environment has significantly contributed to the vibrancy and variety of New York City.  The nominations can come from anyone and should be made at from today through May 4, 2012.

Now in its sixth consecutive year, the Jane Jacobs Medal was created by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2007 to honor activist, author and urbanist, Jane Jacobs, who died in April 2006 at the age of 89.

The Foundation’s relationship with Jane Jacobs dates back to the 1950s, when it launched an Urban Design Studies program that helped foster the emergence of the new discipline of urban design and theory.  As part of this initiative, one of the Foundation’s first grants was to the then-obscure writer from Greenwich Village, for the research and writing of her seminal book, the Death and Life of Great American Cities.

The Foundation is looking for nominees for two different awards – one for lifetime leadership and one for new ideas and activism – that demonstrate any or all of the following qualities:

  • Open our eyes to a new way of seeing and understanding New York City
  • Generate a new way to think about the development and the preservation of urban environments – specifically in New York City
  • Demonstrate an innovative approach to how we think about neighborhoods and leadership for how we solve the problems within them

Some previous recipients of the Jane Jacobs Medal include 2007 winner Barry Benepe, co-founder of Greenmarket; 2008 winner Alexie Torres-Fleming, founder of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (YMPJ) in the South Bronx; Damaris Reyes, Executive Director of Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES); and Joshua David and Robert Hammond, co-founders of Friends of the Highline. Last year the Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership was given to Jane Rosenthal and Robert DeNiro for their founding of Tribeca Film Institute and the economic opportunity created by the spurring of the television and film production industry in New York City.  The 2011 Jane Jacobs Medal for New Ideas and Activism was shared between NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Jeanette Sadik-Khan and Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White for their transformation of the city streets to better enable and encourage walking and bicycling-riding.

“Over fifty years ago, the Rockefeller Foundation was proud to support Jane Jacobs’ vision and activism in transforming her own neighborhood and subsequently the way we all now look at urban planning,” said Edwin Torres, Associate Director of the Rockefeller Foundation.  “As we approach our 100-year anniversary, we further this legacy by supporting innovators in realizing the equitable future we want to see.”

“MAS is honored to administer the Jane Jacobs Medal once again. Last year we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of The Death and Life of Great American Cities — it is as important as ever to commend the civic activists who, like Jacobs, work to make New York City and its neighborhoods a better place to live,” said MAS President Vin Cipolla.

The 2012 Rockefeller Foundation Jane Jacobs Medal will be accompanied by prizes totaling $200,000.  The selection of the Jane Jacobs Medal winners and allocation of the prize money will be determined by the members of the Jane Jacobs Medal Selection Jury.  The Jury is chaired by Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin and includes Reggie Van Lee, Executive VP of Booz Allen Hamilton; Susan Freedman, President of the Public Art Fund; Bruce Nussbaum, assistant managing editor in charge of BusinessWeek magazine’s innovation and design coverage and Associate Professor of Design and Innovation at Parsons The New School for Design; and 2009 Jane Jacobs Medal for lifetime leadership winner Richard Kahan, Founder and CEO of the Urban Assembly.

The 2012 Rockefeller Foundation Jane Jacobs Medal winners will be announced in July of this year.  The Medals will be awarded to the recipients at a reception in Autumn 2012.

Since 2007, the Jane Jacobs Medal has been administered by the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS).  In conjunction with the Jane Jacobs Medal, and with the goal of expanding public appreciation of the work and legacy of this pioneering activist, MAS sponsors related walking tours and the annual Jane Jacobs Forum.

More information on the 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal is available at the Rockefeller Foundation website at