Elisabeth B. Weintz Humanitarian Award 2019

The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative will award the 2019 Elisabeth B. Weintz Humanitarian Award to Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), at a celebration and reception on November 21, 2019.

Mr. Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. Mr. Stevenson and his staff have won reversals, relief or release from prison for over 135 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row and won relief for hundreds of others wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced. Mr. Stevenson has argued and won multiple cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, including a 2019 ruling protecting condemned prisoners who suffer from dementia and a landmark 2012 ruling that banned mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger. Mr. Stevenson has initiated major new anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts that challenge inequality in America. He led the creation of two highly acclaimed cultural sites which opened in 2018, The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The new national landmark institutions chronicle the legacy of slavery, lynching and racial segregation and the connection to mass incarceration and contemporary issues of racial bias. Mr. Stevenson’s work has won him numerous awards including 40 honorary doctorates, the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Prize and the ABA Medal, the American Bar Association’s highest honor. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government and the author of the award-winning New York Times bestseller, Just Mercy.

2019 Weintz Humanitarian Awardee Bryan Stevenson

Public Events

Public events surrounding the 2019 Elisabeth B. Weintz Humanitarian Award will be announced shortly. 

The Elisabeth B. Weintz Humanitarian Award

The late Elisabeth B. “Betsy” Weintz, who passed away in 2007, and her husband, J. Frederick Weintz, were early supporters of creating a strong program at Harvard focused on identifying ways to improve humanitarian response to crises globally and improving training for humanitarian aid workers. They provided the initial funding for the FXB Program on Complex Humanitarian Emergencies at the Harvard School of Public Health (now the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), and as a result of their ongoing support, the Program evolved into the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, an academic and research center. Since 2011, HHI also includes an educational arm, which was established to build knowledge and skills among humanitarian leaders and aid workers on the front lines of relief work. “The humanitarian efforts at Harvard would not have been possible without the early and steadfast leadership and commitment of Betsy and Fred Weintz,” said VanRooyen. “Mrs. Weintz was a dedicated community leader in her hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut, but she also had a global vision. She was a passionate advocate for advancing the research and training of humanitarian leaders around the world. As one of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s founding benefactors and most loyal supporters, she helped build the academic humanitarian community at Harvard University.

In 2015, J. Frederick Weintz established the Elisabeth B. Weintz Humanitarian Award to celebrate the memory, compassionate spirit, and transformative leadership of Betsy Weintz. The Award is to be bestowed annually upon a visionary public figure who has demonstrated superior leadership in a time of humanitarian crisis. The Award Fund also provides a grant for a faculty member or postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University whose work aligns with that of the awardee.