Press Releases

Population Council Hosts Second Annual Ideas with Impact Awards

The Population Council hosted the second annual Ideas with Impact Awards ceremony in New York City on Tuesday night, 6 October 2015. The evening celebrated the achievements of some of the most influential leaders in global health and international development.

The Population Council confronts critical health and development issues—from stopping the spread of HIV to improving reproductive health and ensuring that young people lead full and productive lives. Through biomedical, social science, and public health research in 50 countries, the Council delivers solutions that lead to more effective policies, programs, and technologies that improve lives around the world.

The Population Council honored two exceptional leaders this year, philanthropist and advocate Elizabeth J. McCormack and two-time Grammy winner Angélique Kidjo. Ms. McCormack was awarded the inaugural Champion Award that celebrates and recognizes lifelong commitments to, and support of, a healthier and more just society. Ms. Kidjo was given the 2015 Impact Award for her work on supporting the education of young girls in Africa. In addition to recognizing both of these pioneering women, the event raised nearly $500,000 to support the Council’s work.

“Tonight, we celebrate the Council’s impact in advancing rights, improving equity, and expanding access to contraception, health, and education. The Population Council is assembling the world’s largest body of research on what works to empower adolescent girls and young women,” said Julia Bunting, president of the Population Council. “Our two honorees tonight, Elizabeth J. McCormack and Angélique Kidjo, have both dedicated their lives to improving the lives of girls and women around the world. We honor them for being supporters of the Council and for the impact they’ve had on the lives of others.”  

This year’s Gala also celebrated the longstanding relationship between the Population Council and the Ford Foundation, which dates back to the 1950s. Throughout the years, the Ford Foundation has generously support the Council’s groundbreaking ideas, rigorous evidence, and policy impact around the world.

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation and co-chair of the event, presented the inaugural Champion Award to Elizabeth J. McCormack for her dedication to transforming philanthropy, including running the Rockefeller Family Office and serving as vice chair of the board for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In addition to serving on many university and nonprofit boards, Ms. McCormack’s dedication to the Population Council is unmatched, serving for over 20 years as a trustee, vice chair, and chair of the board.

“I am honored to present tonight’s Champion Award to Elizabeth J. McCormack. Elizabeth has dedicated her life and career to improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable individuals at home and around the world,” said Mr. Walker. “I can think of no one more deserving of receiving the Council’s first-ever Champion Award. From her role as president of Manhattanville College to her leadership at the Rockefeller Family Office, Elizabeth has had a long and fruitful career shaping the way the world thinks about philanthropy.”

“Since I began my career in philanthropy, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with so many organizations working to improve the lives of others,” said Elizabeth J. McCormack. “I have the privilege of celebrating one of those organizations closest to my heart, the Population Council. Having served on the board, I have seen firsthand the impact the Council’s research has had on individuals around the world.”

Angélique Kidjo was recognized with the Council’s Impact Award for her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and her leadership of the Batonga Foundation. The Batonga Foundation exists to empower young women and girls in Africa through secondary school and higher education. Batonga aims to ensure that young women have educational opportunities by improving school infrastructure, granting scholarships, and cultivating mentoring and tutoring programs. In addition to her dedication to global change, Ms. Kidjo is a two-time Grammy Award winner and was named Forbes Magazine’s Most Powerful Celebrity in Africa.

“The collaboration between the Batonga Foundation and the Population Council is a unique opportunity to ensure that young women are getting access to the education they deserve,” said Ms. Kidjo. “I am honored to be here tonight and to receive the Impact Award. Over the years I have learned a lot from the young women and mothers I have had the privilege of working with, and I know they are all hoping for a better future, for themselves and for their families. The work we are doing today will make their dreams possible.”

The Council also announced a $125,000 matching challenge for the Peter J. Donaldson Fund, which was launched at the inaugural 2014 Ideas with Impact Awards. The Peter J. Donaldson Fund, established in honor of the Council’s retiring president, was created to advance the leadership of developing-country researchers concerned with population, health, and development. The goal of the Fund is to strengthen developing-country organizations by building the capacity of young scientists and researchers, who can become national and international leaders in their fields.

The Population Council Ideas with Impact Awards ceremony was co-chaired by Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, Council trustee Theo Spencer, and longtime friend of the Council Sukey Wagner. Key sponsors included the Edlow Family, Jamie & Lizzie Zobel, Darcy Bradbury & Eric Seiler, KPMG, and Bayer HealthCare.