New Orleans, LA, December 7, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) honored author, social innovator and community leader Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, with the A.I. Botnick Torch of Liberty Award in honor of his local contributions to the rebuilding of the City of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as well as his long history of local community involvement.
A New Orleans native and former local newspaperman, Mr. Isaacson stepped in and volunteered to help rebuild the city after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2003, serving as vice chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority and member of the New Orleans Tricentennial Commission. And he was recently appointed to the New Orleans Planning Commission.
“Walter, who had been gone from the city for 27 years, returned and helped guide what we know today to be a historic rebuilding of a city many thought was literally dead in the water,” said Dr. Allison Padilla-Goodman, ADL New Orleans Regional Director. “Drawn by the decency that is at the center of his character and his love of the city where he grew up, Walter heeded the call for help and played an important role in what has been an incredible joint effort by many to restore New Orleans to its special place in America and the world.”
Mr. Isaacson began his distinguished and remarkable career as a reporter at the New Orleans Times-Picayune. A graduate of Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, Harvard College and the Pembroke College at Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, Mr. Isaacson also has held many important government roles: vice-chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, member of the New Orleans Tricentennial Commission, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and chairman of the US-Palestinian Partnership. He is chair emeritus of Teach for America and sits on several boards including United Airlines, Tulane University, the Overseers of Harvard University, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Society of American Historians, the Carnegie Institution for Science, and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.
“Walter Isaacson is a true New Orleans hometown hero: a graduate of Isidore Newman School who began his career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and is now moving back his beloved New Orleans,” said Jonathan Lake, ADL South-Central Regional Board Chair. “He cares about the greater good and translates that caring into action, and strives to build a brighter future in which all people share in the fruits of democracy.”
The ADL award to Mr. Issacson was presented at a dinner held last night at the Sheraton New Orleans. Carroll W. Suggs, a local business and community leader, was also honored at the event for her deep commitment to civic leadership and social change.
Mr. Isaacson is the author of several widely acclaimed books, including: The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (2014), Steve Jobs (2011), Einstein: His Life and Universe (2007), Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (2003), and others. After his time at The Times Picayune, Isaacson served as editor of Time magazine and CEO of CNN.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.