2017 Winners

Jony Ive

TECHNOLOGY

The head of design at Apple since 1996, Jony Ive designs the products that reshaped the way we interact with the world, including the iMac, iPod, iPad and the iPhone—whose tenth-anniversary edition, released in September, represented a giant leap forward in smartphone technology. With newer products like the Apple Watch, now the bestselling watch in the world, he continues to define a generation of tech products of superior computing power by their elegant and user-friendly forms. His mandate at Apple extends from the look and feel of Apple hardware and user interface to architectural projects such as the brand-new Apple Park in California and all of Apple’s retail stores. The British-born son of a silversmith, Ive, now a U.S. citizen, holds more than 5,000 patents, and has won awards from Design Museum London, Design and Art Direction (D&AD) and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. He was made a Knight Commander of the British Empire in 2012 “for services to design and enterprise.” (Photo Credit: Brian Bowen Smith)

Rachel Chavkin and Dave Malloy

HISTORY

Director and writer Rachel Chavkin has collaborated on several projects with composer Dave Malloy, who often finds inspiration in classic works of literature. For his electro-pop musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, based on Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Malloy was composer, lyricist, orchestrator, music director and performer in the role of Pierre. Chavkin’s immersive staging of Great Comet earned her a Tony nomination for best director of a musical. Great Comet received 12 Tony nominations, the highest number for the 2016-17 season. Chavkin, an Obie winner, is also the founding Artistic Director of the TEAM, a Brooklyn-based ensemble dedicated to creating new work about the experience of living in America. Malloy, who has been nominated for a Tony three times and has won two Obie awards, has also transformed sources from Beowulf to the life of Rasputin into cutting-edge musicals. He plans to set his sights next on Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. (Photo Credit: Ryan Pfluger)

Natalie Batalha

PHYSICAL SCIENCES

“I was moved that the universe could be described in numbers,” says Natalie Batalha, recalling her earliest interest in science. Under her direction as project scientist, the Kepler mission at NASA has used numbers to describe more than 2,300 exoplanets. Until now, it was nearly impossible to detect these planets, so far from our own solar system. Under Batalha’s direction, scientists used computer programs to tease out evidence from torrents of light. She then headed up the analysis that confirmed the existence of about 30 rocky planets that are the right size and distance from their suns to support life. (Photo Credit: Timothy Archibald)

John Legend

PERFORMING ARTS

Just over the last year, John Legend released his sixth album, Darkness and Light; acted in his first major role in a film, the Academy Award-nominated La La Land, and made a cameo as Frederick Douglass in “Underground,” the television series he also served as executive producer. He was born in Springfield, Ohio, and grew up in a religious and musically oriented family. After earning a degree in English from the University of Pennsylvania and acquiring an abiding interest in history, he spent three years as a management consultant while getting his musical career started. He has won 10 Grammy Awards, plus an Academy Award for best original song, for “Glory,” which featured in the soundtrack for Ava DuVernay’s film Selma. (Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3)

Ava DuVernay

VISUAL ARTS

Ava DuVernay has excelled at every form of filmmaking she has attempted—short films, documentaries, television series and feature films. She is being honored not only for directing the Academy Award-nominated documentary 13th, on racial disparities in the criminal-justice system, but also for creating and executive-producing the television series “Queen Sugar,” which examines the forces that unite and divide three African-American siblings after their father dies in rural Louisiana. DuVernay, who grew up in Los Angeles, spent a decade as a film publicist before turning to making her own films. In 2012, she became the first African-American woman to win the Sundance Film Festival’s best-director prize, for her feature Middle of Nowhere; her 2014 feature, Selma, was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture. She has been a vocal advocate for African-Americans pursuing careers in the arts. (Photo Credit: Art Streiber)

Gary Steinberg

LIFE SCIENCES

Gary Steinberg, the chair of neurosurgery at Stanford University Medical School, has spent most of his career looking for better ways to treat stroke patients. Approximately 800,000 Americans have a stroke each year, and the majority make their most significant recoveries within six months. After that, their disabilities are usually permanent. Using stem cell therapy, Steinberg and his team were the first to show that stroke survivors can continue to improve, even dramatically, beyond this point. “That really changed the notion of what happens after a stroke,” he says. “The circuits are not dead. They are not irreversibly injured.” (Photo Credit: Jonathan Sprague)

Sesame Workshop

SOCIAL PROGRESS

The team behind Sesame Street’s new Muppet, Julia, was led by Sherrie Rollins Westin, who oversees Sesame Workshop’s global social impact efforts. Currently the executive vice president for global impact and philanthropy, Westin previously worked in the White House office of public liaison under President George W. Bush and held senior positions at ABC News and U.S. News & World Report. Christine Ferraro, a writer for Sesame Street since 1994, wrote the original television script for Julia. Ferraro is the winner of 12 Daytime Emmy Awards and three Writers Guild of America Awards. Children’s book author Leslie Kimmelman wrote We’re Amazing 1, 2, 3, the original story book featuring Julia. She based many of Julia’s characteristics on her son, who also has autism. (Photo Credit: Brian Doben)

Marley Dias

YOUTH

This 12-year-old social activist created the hashtag #1000BlackGirlBooks—a book drive to collect 1,000 books starring young women of color. To date Marley Dias has collected some 10,000 books, which she catalogues in an online database accessible to readers everywhere. She has also donated thousands of books to underserved communities, from Newark, N.J. and Navajo Nation to Jamaica West Indies and Ghana. An outspoken advocate for female and minority education and empowerment, she has appeared on “Ellen,” “CBS This Morning” and “Charlie Rose,” and she guest edited a special-edition e-zine for Elle called Marley Mag. In January, Scholastic will publish her first book, Marley Gets It Done (And So Can You!), with an introduction by American Ingenuity Award winner Ava DuVernay. (Photo Credit: Erin Patrice O'Brien)

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