The Rockefeller Foundation has announced the recipients of the 2009 Jane Jacobs Medal, which recognizes individuals whose actions and accomplishments in New York City exemplify the late author and civic activist's principles. The prize is accompanied by a cash award of $100,000.
The recipients of this year's medals are Damaris Reyes, executive director of Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) and Richard Kahan, founder and CEO of the Urban Assembly. Reyes, whose organization has served the rapidly gentrifying Lower East Side since 1977 in the areas of tenants' rights, eviction prevention, economic justice, and community revitalization, will receive the 2009 Jane Jacobs Medal for New Ideas and Activism. Under her leadership, GOLES has supported passage of strong tenant protection legislation by the city council, worked to help the area's small business owners stay solvent, fought for a community voice in the development of the East River waterfront, and worked with the New York City Housing Authority and skilled-trades unions to provide job opportunities for public housing residents.
Kahan, a former planner and builder whose nonprofit created and now manages twenty-two public secondary schools, will receive the 2009 Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership. For more than thirty-five years, Kahan has worked to solve serious urban problems by building partnerships between the public and private sectors. Before founding the Urban Assembly in 1990, he served as president of the New York State Urban Development Corporation and the Convention Center Development Corporation, and was chairman of the Battery Park City Authority. He was also a co-founder of Take the Field, a nonprofit that helped rebuild forty-three public school outdoor athletic facilities in four years with $136 million in public and private support.
"The Rockefeller Foundation Jane Jacobs Medal recognizes two New Yorkers for extraordinary work that has changed the way we think about development, neighborhoods, and planning within cities," said Judith Rodin, Rockefeller Foundation president and chair of the medal jury. "Damaris Reyes's and Richard Kahan's devotion to their communities and to the larger community that is New York City defines the very legacy of civic activism that Jane Jacobs fostered."