The Municipal Art Society to Honor Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel with the 2016 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal

Award to be presented at the annual MAS gala on June 8, 2016, celebrating Ambassador vanden Heuvel's decades of public service to our country

February 11, 2016  |  New York, New York

Gina Pollara, president of The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS), announced today that the 2016 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal will be presented to Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel. The award will recognize the Ambassador’s role in building Four Freedoms Park as well as his six decades of distinguished public service to New York and our country.

Download Press Release
Press Contact

Meaghan Baron
(212) 935-3960

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis on train with supporters

Ms. Pollara said: “We acknowledge with this award the herculean effort led by Ambassador vanden Heuvel in building the Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island, a project begun in 1973 by New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller and New York City Mayor John Lindsay. Forty years later the completed Park was dedicated and more than 500,000 visitors have joined in the acclamation of this memorial to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a memorial of which the great Louis Kahn served as architect. The New York Times, in a front page critique at the time of the dedication, described the Park as giving New York “nothing less than a new spiritual heart.” Ambassador vanden Heuvel was singularly responsible for the successful completion of this extraordinary addition to New York’s beauty and purpose.”

“We honor Ambassador vanden Heuvel,” said MAS Chairman Frederick Iseman, “for the creation of Four Freedoms Park and for countless other contributions to our City and country which sustain and define the mission of MAS. Combining private sector achievements in the law and investment banking, Ambassador vanden Heuvel at the same time has created a career in public service that has won him national recognition and appreciation.”

“It is an honor to celebrate Ambassador vanden Heuvel with the Onassis Medal. His life work has made this city and the world a far better place,” said Pollara. “Bill is a man of great intellect and unparalleled integrity, which he has focused on promoting civic values on many fronts, here in New York and beyond. From his work with the Department of Justice and the New York City Board of Corrections, to his diplomatic career, humanitarian leadership, and the unwavering passion that built the Four Freedoms Park, he has been an exemplar of the great legacy of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.”

The Onassis Medal will be presented at MAS’s annual gala on June 8, 2016, at The Plaza Hotel. All proceeds from the event will support MAS in its mission to advocate for excellence in urban planning, preservation, and community engagement. Founded in 1893, MAS is one of the oldest membership organizations in New York City, and 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 Station from demolition in the 1970s, in partnership with Mrs. Onassis herself.

Ambassador vanden Heuvel has had a long and deep personal relationship with the Kennedy family, including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. “Mrs. Onassis was a cherished friend which makes the award in her name personally meaningful to me. I have no doubt that Jackie would have loved Four Freedoms Park as the last grand masterpiece of its architect, Louis Kahn. I am honored to accept The Municipal Art Society’s 2016 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal. I believe very strongly in the work MAS does in its advocacy for growth and progress based on the civic values that make New York the greatest city in the world,” said Ambassador vanden Heuvel. “The work of MAS and its leadership and staff deserves our recognition and profound respect.”

About the Honoree

Ambassador vanden Heuvel has served as Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and as U.S. Ambassador to the European Office of the U.N. An international lawyer, he is also Senior Advisor to Allen and Company, a New York investment banking firm. Ambassador vanden Heuvel has served as President of the International Rescue Committee, as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the United Nations Association of the United States of America, and as Chairman of the New York City Board of Correction. He was Vice President of the 1967 Constitutional Convention. A graduate of the Cornell University Law School, he was Editor-in-Chief of the Cornell Law Review and later served as Executive Assistant to General William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan, Special Counsel to Governor Averell Harriman and Assistant to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. He led the successful effort to open the schools in Prince Edward County, Virginia, in one of the significant battles of the civil rights movement. Ambassador vanden Heuvel is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Founder and Chair Emeritus of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and the Four Freedoms Park Conservancy, Inc., Co-Chair of the Council of American Ambassadors, and Chair of the Open Medical Institute in Salzburg, Austria. He is a director of the American Committee for East-West Accord.

About the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal

The Onassis Medal, MAS’s highest honor, is awarded annually to an individual or institution who, by their work and deeds, have made an outstanding contribution to New York City. Launched in 1950 as the President’s Medal, the award was renamed in 1994 in honor of Mrs. Onassis’ tireless efforts in partnership with MAS to preserve and protect New York’s great architecture. Previous honorees include Dr. Judith Rodin and David Rockefeller, Jr., of The Rockefeller Foundation, Diane von Furstenberg, Channel 13/PBS, Robert DeNiro, Elihu Rose and Wade Thompson, and I. M. Pei.

About The Municipal Art Society of New York

Founded in 1893, The Municipal Art Society is five years older than the consolidated City of New York itself. For more than 120 years, MAS has worked to inspire, educate, and empower New Yorkers to engage in the betterment of our city. Through three core campaign areas, MAS protects New York’s legacy spaces, encourages intentional planning and urban development, and fosters complete neighborhoods across the five boroughs.

Download Press Release

Become a member to enjoy discounts to events and tours.

Learn about membership