Four Extraordinary New Yorkers Receive the 2018 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal

Kathryn & Kenneth Chenault and Audrey & Danny Meyer were honored at the MAS 125th Anniversary Gala

June 6, 2018  |  New York, New York

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) presented the 2018 recipients of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal, the organization’s highest honor. The 2018 Medal honored Kathryn & Kenneth Chenault and Audrey & Danny Meyer for their legacy of vision, leadership, and philanthropy.

The awards were presented at MAS’s 125th Anniversary Gala on June 6 at Bay Room at 28 Liberty, the first event to be held in the new space. The venue is the Union Square Hospitality Group’s first-ever dedicated event space, located on the 60th floor of the historic skyscraper on Liberty Street, with 360-degree exposures offering stunning views of the city. Mrs. Kennedy Onassis’ daughter, Caroline Kennedy, served as Honorary Chair of the Gala and offered remarks on her mother’s legacy with MAS.

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  • Kathryn and Kenneth Chenault with MAS Chair Christy MacLear and Presenter David Rockwell
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  • Audrey and Danny Meyer with MAS Chair Christy MacLear and Presenter David Rockwell
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“We are grateful to all four honorees for their contributions to our city, and delighted to honor them during our anniversary celebration,” said Elizabeth Goldstein, President of MAS. “Kathryn and Kenneth Chenault are lifelong champions of New York’s built environment and the art and educational institutions that serve as the foundation of our cultural resources. Their support for MAS, and the historic preservation and urban planning priorities we share, has been unwavering and inspiring. And Audrey and Danny Meyer’s impact on New York—from hospitality and the arts, to neighborhood revitalization and the fight against hunger—resonates in communities in all five boroughs. Their work and pursuits reflect the celebration of culture, togetherness, and urban space that draws so many New Yorkers and visitors to our city.”

The event raised $1.1 million and proceeds will support MAS in its mission to advocate for excellence in urban planning, preservation, and community engagement. Founded in 1893, MAS was instrumental in key battles that have shaped the future of New York, from establishing a national model for historic preservation law to saving Grand Central Terminal from demolition in the 1970s, in partnership with MAS Board Member Mrs. Kennedy Onassis herself. Learn more about MAS’s 125 years of advocacy at https://www.mas.org/about-us/history/ 

About the Honorees: Kathryn & Kenneth Chenault

A former practicing attorney, Kathryn currently serves on the boards of: The Studio Museum in Harlem; Hospital for Special Surgery; and Pratt Institute, from which she received an honorary degree in 2012. She is a trustee emeritus of NYU School of Law and the Alvin Ailey Foundation, and a former board member of the Municipal Art Society. Kathryn has been recognized for her longtime interest in architecture, serving on the Design Advisory Team to select the architect for the Obama Presidential Library, and the selection committee for the architect for the new Studio Museum in Harlem building.

Kenneth Chenault is Chairman and a Managing Director of the venture capital firm, General Catalyst. Prior to joining General Catalyst, Ken was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American Express Company, a position he held from 2001 to 2018. Under Ken’s leadership, American Express was established as the foremost corporate promoter and funder of historic preservation in the United States.  Ken serves on the boards of: Airbnb; Facebook; IBM; The Procter & Gamble Company; the Harvard Corporation; and numerous nonprofit organizations, including: the Smithsonian Institution’s Advisory Council for the National Museum of African American History and Culture; the National September 11 Memorial & Museum; and Bloomberg Philanthropies. He also serves on the board of trustees for NYU Langone Health.

About the Honorees: Audrey & Danny Meyer

Audrey Heffernan Meyer has long been involved in all things New York. For 25 years, she has served on the board of Theatre for a New Audience, whose mission is to develop and vitalize the performance and study of Shakespeare and classic drama. She was a vice chair of their successful $69 million campaign to build a permanent home in Brooklyn. The Polonsky Shakespeare Center, designed by Hugh Hardy, opened in 2014, and serves as a centerpiece of the Brooklyn Cultural District. Audrey is currently chair of their recently launched $45 million campaign for sustainability. Audrey is also a patron of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Conservation program and the Museum of Modern Art’s Education program. After pursuing her own acting career throughout the 1980’s, Audrey is back to a full-time career in the theatre.

Danny Meyer is the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group and the founder of Shake Shack. Union Square Hospitality Group comprises some of New York’s most beloved restaurants, including Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, and more. Danny, his restaurants and chefs have earned an unprecedented 28 James Beard Awards, and Danny’s recent personal achievements include the Julia Child Award (2017) and his inclusion on the TIME 100 list of the Most Influential People in the World (2015). Danny’s first business book, Setting the Table (HarperCollins, 2006), a New York Times bestseller, examines the power of hospitality in restaurants, business and life. An active national leader in the fight against hunger, Danny serves on the board of Share Our Strength and has long supported hunger relief initiatives including City Harvest and God’s Love We Deliver.

About the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal

The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (JKO) Medal is awarded annually to individuals and organizations that have made an extraordinary impact on the quality of New York’s built environment. The award was established in 1994 to honor MAS Board Member Mrs. Kennedy Onassis and her passionate efforts to preserve great architecture in New York City. Previous honorees include Dr. Judith Rodin and David Rockefeller, Jr., of The Rockefeller Foundation, Diane von Furstenberg, Channel 13/PBS, Robert DeNiro, Agnes Gund, Elihu Rose and Wade Thompson, I. M. Pei, William vanden Heuvel, and Joan Ganz Cooney & Peter G. Peterson.

About The Municipal Art Society of New York

For 125 years, the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) has worked to educate and inspire New Yorkers to engage in the betterment of our city. As a non-profit advocacy organization, MAS mobilizes diverse allies to focus on issues that affect our city from sidewalk to skyline. Our advocacy efforts have led to the creation of the New York City Planning Commission, Public Design Commission, Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the Tribute in Light; the preservation of Grand Central Terminal, the lights of Times Square, and the Garment District; the conservation of more than 50 works of public art; and the founding of such civic organizations as the Public Art Fund, the New York—Landmarks Conservancy, P.S. 1, the Historic Districts Council, the Park Avenue Armory Conservancy, and the Waterfront Alliance. Through three core campaign areas, MAS protects New York’s legacy spaces, encourages thoughtful planning and urban design, and fosters inclusive neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information, visit mas.org.

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