Nominations are now closed. The 2016 winner will be announced in February.

This annual award, established in honor of Bennington’s ninth president and founder of the Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA), recognizes a distinguished Bennington alumna/alumnus, faculty or staff member, or an individual from the larger Bennington community whose innovative and inspirational leadership is advancing civic and cultural life and improving the lives of others.

The selected individual will be an engaged citizen who has successfully demonstrated the willingness to step forward and take risks in order to solve problems and achieve results in the areas of education, government, the arts and sciences, or industry.

Established by parents of a Bennington alumna from the Class of 2000, the $5,000 award has no restrictions on how it may be used. The honoree will be announced in early 2016 and will be invited to campus in the spring to meet with current students, allowing them to connect with an exceptional leader who is affiliated with the College.


  • Holly Block ’80, the inaugural recipient in 2014, is the Executive Director of the Bronx Museum of the Arts and recently served as the co-commissioner of the United States Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. Under her leadership, the museum has not only earned international acclaim but become an engine for community revitalization.
  • Victoria Sammartino '99, the 2015 award recipient, is the founder of Voices UnBroken. Inspired by her experience teaching poetry readings on Rikers Island while a student, she began the nonprofit dedicated giving vulnerable young people opportunity for creative self-expression, one year after graduating from Bennington.

Nominations for the 2017 award will be open in September.