President Obama today named 16 ‘Change Agents’ to receive the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. The Medal of Freedom is awarded to individuals who make an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Six of the honorees are women:
Nancy Goodman Brinker: founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s leading breast cancer grass roots organization;
Billie Jean King: an acclaimed professional tennis player in the 1960s and 1970s, who has helped champion gender equality issues not only in sports, but in all areas of public life.
Sandra Day O’Connor: the first woman ever to sit on the United States Supreme Court. Nominated by President Reagan in 1981, she served until her retirement in 2006.
Chita Rivera: an accomplished and versatile actress, singer, and dancer, who has won Two Tony Awards and received seven more nominations while breaking barriers and inspiring a generation of women to follow in her footsteps.
Mary Robinson: the first female President of Ireland (1990 – 1997) and a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997 – 2002), a post that required her to end her presidency four months early.
Janet Davison Rowley: the Blum Riese Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology and Human Genetics at The University of Chicago. She is an American human geneticist and the first scientist to identify a chromosomal translocation as the cause of leukemia and other cancers.
Other recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom include Dr. Pedro Jose Greer, Jr.; Stephen Hawking; Jack Kemp; Sen. Edward Kennedy; Rev. Joseph Lowery; Harvey Milk; Sidney Poitier; Desmond Tutu; and Muhummad Yunus. Complete bios and more information on all the honorees is online, via The White House press office.
Dr. Muhammad Yunus & Grameen Bank
We hold all the honorees in great regard but feel compelled to share our special pride in the work of Noble-Prize winning economist Muhummad Yunus, and the Grameen Foundation’s micro-loan program, which Anne of Carversville supports with unbridled enthusiasm.
Dr. Yunus, an economist by training, founded the Grameen Bank in 1983 in his native Bangladesh to provide small, low-interest loans to the poor to help better their livelihood and communities. Despite its low interest rates and lending to poor individuals — primarily women, Grameen Bank is sustainable and 98% percent of its loans are repaid – higher than other banking systems. It has spread its successful model throughout the world. see Grameen Foundation website