Our Laureates

Click on a name for more detailed information about our Past Laureate Winners


AFeller_2018-04-14 10-27-50_DSC8854A.jpg


2018 Benjamin Franklin Prize in Arts and Humanities

In his remarkable and versatile career, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has done important work in the areas of arts and criticism, humanities and historical research, genetic science, documentary film, and public service.  He exemplifies the spirit that inspired the Creativity Laureate Award – the multi-disciplinary creativity of Benjamin Franklin.  ...More...

Tim RobbinsA.jpg

TIM ROBBINS - 2017 Laureate Prize

2017 Benjamin Franklin Prize in the Arts and Public Service

Tim Robbins has done it all. Academy Award-winning actor, director of performances on stage and film, producer, writer and activist, Tim Robbins believes in the joy and transformative power of the arts. In addition to pursuing his own diverse career, he also launches and nurtures others in their own theatrical productions -- in prisons, schools, summer programs, public parks, and communities around ...More...

Azar Nafisi - 2015 Laureate Prize

2015 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate in the Humanities and Public Service

"I found a nation of readers, large and small, old and young, rich and poor, of all colors and backgrounds, united by the shared sense that books matter, that they open up a window into a more meaningful life, that they enable us to tolerate complexity and nuance and to… More...

tilghman - cropped headshot.jpg

Shirley Tilghman - 2014 Laureate Prize

2014 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate in
Science and Public Service

“I really fell in love with chemistry in high school. I loved the order of the periodic table . . . I loved that with just a few sets of rules you could make any chemical in the universe.” A leader in the field of molecular biology, Shirley Tilghman came… More...

Bill Drayton - 2013 Laureate Prize

2013 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate in
Public Service and Social Entrepreneurship

For Bill Drayton, “The life purpose of the true social entrepreneur is to change the world.” As the founder and CEO of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, Drayton and his organization have been funding and supporting social entrepreneurs since the first Ashoka Fellows were elected in India in 1981. Social… More...

Mark Morris - 2012 Laureate Prize

2012 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate in the Arts

Mark Morris has achieved a reputation as one of the world's leading modern dance choreographers. Dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov, with whom Morris founded the White Oak Dance Project in 1990, has called Morris "one of the great choreographers of our time" and credits Morris for giving him wonderful pieces to… More...

Johnnetta B. Cole - 2011 Laureate Prize

2011 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate in the
Humanities and Arts

Johnnetta B. Cole has had a rich and varied career as an anthropologist, author and educator.  Cole’s work in academia and anthropology, and her published work span over four decades and reflect a deep and abiding commitment to racial and gender equality that is rooted in her upbringing.  As a… More...

Greg Mortenson - 2010 Laureate Prize

2010 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate in Public Service

Greg Mortenson, author and humanitarian, is best known for his tireless work building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the past 16 years.  Author of the best sellers Three Cups of Tea (www.threecupsoftea.com) and Stones into Schools, Mortenson also is the co-founder of the non-profit Central Asia Institute (www.ikat.org) and… More...

Lisa Randall - 2009 Laureate Prize

2009 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate in the Sciences

Physicist Lisa Randall is best known for her work involving extra dimensions of space, or "warped" geometries, and her suggestion that might explain the weakness of gravity or allow us to live in a world with an infinite extra dimension -- possibly even in a three-dimensional sinkhole in a higher-dimensional… More...

Meryl Streep - 2008 Laureate Prize

2008 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate in the Arts

Actress Meryl Streep has portrayed an astonishing array of roles in an illustrious career in the theater, film, and television.  The two-time Academy Award winner and recipient of a record-breaking 14 Oscar nominations is widely respected as one of our most distinguished and talented actors.  But she is also notable… More...

Ted Turner - 2007 Laureate Prize

2007 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate
in Public Service and Entrepreneurship

Since the early 1970's, Ted Turner has stepped into the international spotlight with one accomplishment after another. In billboard advertisement, cable television, sports team ownership, sailing, environmental initiatives and philanthropy, Turner's vision, determination, generosity and forthrightness have consistently been aimed at improving the world... More...


Jules Feiffer 2006 Laureate Prize

2006 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate in the Arts

Jules Feiffer, one of American's most influential editorial cartoonists, is also a playwright, novelist, screenwriter and author of children's books. His Pulitzer prize-winning trademark cartoon style, widely imitated by younger generations of political cartoonists, typically features sparely drawn, neurotic characters, appearing against blank backgrounds and emoting... More...

Sandra Day O’Connor 2005 Laureate Prize

2005 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate in
Public Service & the Humanities

Sandra Day O’Connor likes to call herself FWOTSC: First Woman on the Supreme Court. She was appointed by Ronald Reagan, who wrote in his diary (July 6, 1981): "Called Judge O'Connor and told her she was my nominee for Supreme Court. Already the flak is starting and from my own… More...

Eric Kandel 2004 Laureate Prize

2004 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate in the Sciences

Eric Kandel received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2002 for his groundbreaking work on how memories are stored in the brain at the cell level, in neurons. Dr. Kandel shared the prize with fellow neuroscientists Arvid Carlsson and Paul Greengard. Raised within the Jewish community in Vienna,… More...

Daniel Patrick Moynihan 2003 Laureate Prize

2003 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate in Public Service

A scholarly man with the air of an absent-minded professor, Daniel Patrick Moynihan was one of those rare individuals who, with wit and wisdom, traversed the worlds of politics and academia. Trained in law, economics and sociology, he served in the administrations of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford; he… More...

Yo-Yo Ma 2002 Laureate Prize

2002 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate in the Arts

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma wants us to listen to music with an open mind. Essentially grounded in the classical tradition, his reputation was launched with recordings of the moving cello suites by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1983. But Ma has moved in many directions, some difficult to define. He has performed… More...