Executive Director of Lawyers’ Committee Honored by Caroline Kennedy as Recipient of 2010 John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards
Boston, MA - Caroline Kennedy presented the seventh annual John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards to Lateefah Simon, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and Hector Balderas, New Mexico State Auditor. The awards were presented Wednesday evening during a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
MacArthur Fellow Lateefah Simon is part of a new wave of African American civil rights and community leaders. She was appointed Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee in January 2009. Since then, Ms. Simon has led the Lawyers’ Committee through its first strategic planning process in more than 10 years, realigning the organization’s direct service, policy advocacy and litigation work to assist low-income immigrant communities and communities of color.
Born and raised in San Francisco's Western Addition neighborhood, Ms. Simon has advocated tirelessly on behalf of communities of color, youth and women since her teenage years. At age 15, she joined the Center for Young Women's Development (CYWD), first as a volunteer and then as a staff member, working to provide homeless, low-income and incarcerated young women with the tools they needed to transform and rebuild their lives. At 19, Ms. Simon was appointed Executive Director of CYWD,becoming one of the youngest leaders of a social service agency in the country. During her 11-year tenure, CYWD grew into an organization with a $1.2 million budget, serving approximately 3,500 women per year and hiring more than 250 women. Ms. Simon soon became a nationally recognized advocate for juvenile and criminal justice reform, and also focused her organizing efforts around poverty, reproductive and immigrant rights and GLBT issues.
Prior to being appointed Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee, Ms. Simon served in the Office of San Francisco District Attorney Kamala D. Harris, leading the Reentry Services division. The program created a citywide public/private partnership with numerous agencies and implemented new ways to prevent former offenders from returning to a life of crime.
Caroline Kennedy, President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and a member of the Senior Advisory Committee for Harvard’s Institute of Politics stated, “Lateefah Simon learned firsthand how public service can lift people up from troubled circumstances, and now she is living proof of the power each one of us has to transform the lives of countless others. We honor these two outstanding individuals for all they have given back to our country and for the extraordinary examples they set.”
In addition to the MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, Ms. Simon has received numerous awards. She was named "California Woman of the Year" by the California State Assembly in 2005, and also has been recognized by the Ford Foundation, the National Organization for Women, the Women's Foundation of California and Girls, Inc. She was placed on O, The Oprah Magazine’s inaugural “Power List,” was recognized as one of 100 emerging or established African American leaders by The Root in 2009, and celebrated as a “Remarkable Woman” by Lifetime Television in 2010.
The John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards were created by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and Harvard’s Institute of Politics to honor Americans under the age of 40 who are changing their communities and the country with their commitment to public service. The awards are presented annually to two exceptional individuals whose contributions in elective office, community service, or advocacy demonstrate the impact and the value of public service in the spirit of John F. Kennedy.
For more information visit the Kennedy Presidential Library’s website at http://www.jfklibrary.org/ or the Institute of Politics’ website at http://www.iop.harvard.edu/. Congratulations Lateefah!
Source: Press release