President Shalala Honored with Nelson Mandela Award

Recognized by Kaiser Family Foundation for contributions in health and human rights.

Coral Gables (September 17, 2010) — University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala has been awarded the 2010 Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights. Shalala, who served as U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration, received the award on Thursday, September 16 at a ceremony and dinner at Blair House hosted by the current U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and the Kaiser Family Foundation. The event honored Shalala’s retirement from the foundation’s Board of Trustees.

The award recognizes Shalala for her dedication to advancing access to health care in the United States and for helping disadvantaged people around the world, as well as for her special commitment to ending apartheid and developing democracy in South Africa.

“Whether it’s providing better health care to soldiers returning from two wars, or shaping the future of nursing here at home, or providing relief efforts in Haiti, or providing leadership on health reform, Donna Shalala has always been there when the people of our country and the world have needed her,” said Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman.

Altman’s comments were in reference to Shalala taking a leadership role in efforts to decrease the nation’s nursing shortage and reform health care, spearheading UM relief efforts for the victims of Haiti’s devastating January 12 earthquake, and co-chairing with former Senator Bob Dole a bipartisan presidential commission charged with looking into the care of wounded service members.

Established in 1992 by the Kaiser Family Foundation at the behest of Nelson Mandela shortly after his release from 27 years of incarceration, the Mandela Award honors individuals for outstanding dedication to improving the health and life chances of disadvantaged populations in South Africa and internationally. Recipients are selected in conjunction with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and with the approval of Mandela.

Shalala received the award from two former recipients of the Mandela Award. South African Ambassador to the U.S. Ebrahim Rasool, the 1998 award winner, and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, the 1997 award winner. Four months ago Benjamin was honored by Shalala and other UM dignitaries when she received an honorary Doctor of Science degree at the UM’s May commencement ceremonies.

Ambassador Rasool spoke of Shalala’s efforts in assisting South African exiles in the U.S. when she was serving as president of Hunter College and then the University of Wisconsin, and her association with the Kaiser Family Foundation’s work in South Africa as a trustee over the past nine years.

Recipients of the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights are given a statuette bearing a likeness of Mandela.

Shalala is a 2008 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

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From left to right, Dick Schlosberg, chair of the Kaiser Family Foundation Board of Trustees; South African Ambassador to the U.S. Ebrahim Rasool; Donna E. Shalala; U.S. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; and Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman. Photo: Abby Greenawalt.

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