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In honor of Thomas Jefferson’s 281st birthday, will you help us preserve and protect Monticello for generations to come?


University  of Virginia, Caroline Newman, 434-924-6856 
Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Jennifer Lyon, 434-984-7596

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — The University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello will present their highest honors, the 2020 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals in Architecture, Citizen Leadership, Global Innovation, and Law, as follows:

  • Architecture: Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, co-founders of the multidisciplinary design practice, WEISS/MANFREDI, known for redefining the relationships between landsape, architecture, infrastructure and art through their award-winning projects.

  • Citizen Leadership: Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation and a leader in global development. Shah was the USAID Administrator during President Barack Obama’s administration and has deep experience in business, government and philanthropy.

  • Global Innovation: Ted Turner, a media pioneer and philanthropist working to promote sustainability, environmental initiatives and charitable efforts around the world.

  • Law: Sonia Sotomayor, an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 after a distinguished legal career.

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals recognize the exemplary contributions of recipients to the endeavors in which Jefferson – the author of the Declaration of Independence, the third U.S. president and the founder of the University of Virginia – excelled and held in high regard.

The medals are typically presented in observance of Jefferson’s birthday, April 13, during celebrations including a formal dinner at Monticello, a medal presentation at UVA and public talks by the medalists. However, due to ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus and limitations on events and travel, this year’s in-person events have been cancelled and the medals will be given in absentia.

 “I was very much looking forward to welcoming these extraordinary men and women to Grounds, but the virus had other ideas,” said UVA president Jim Ryan.  “Still, I hope they will accept these medals as a token of our admiration and gratitude.  Together, they have devoted their lives to areas of study and practice that Thomas Jefferson cared deeply about.  And they have done so with an eye towards improvement—recognizing that, while our pursuit of high ideals will always be imperfect, hope lies in the striving.”

The medals are presented annually by the president of the University and the president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the independent, nonprofit organization that owns and operates Jefferson’s home, Monticello.

“As Thomas Jefferson once counseled, we must ‘do to our fellow-men the most good in our power,’” said Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. “This year’s medalists embody the spirit of this charge through their selfless, determined work. We are disappointed that we cannot award these honors in person, but no less pleased to recognize their tireless efforts to create a better future.”

This year’s medalists join a distinguished roster of past winners that includes architects Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Toyo Ito, and Sir David Adjaye OBE; seven former and current U.S. Supreme Court justices; former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher; former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch; special counsel, former FBI director and UVA alumnus Robert S. Mueller III; Gordon Moore, engineer, technologist and entrepreneur; Alice Waters, chef, food activist and founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project; Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund; Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America; oceanographer and author, Sylvia Earle; Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve; former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; the Honorable Carlton W. Reeves, second African American appointed to a federal judgeship in Mississippi; and several former and current U.S. senators and representatives, including Rep. John Lewis and Sen. John Warner.


About The Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello
The Thomas Jefferson Foundation was incorporated in 1923 to preserve Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Today, the foundation seeks to bring history forward into national and global dialogues by engaging audiences with Jefferson’s world and ideas and inviting them to experience the power of place at Monticello. Monticello is recognized as a National Historic Landmark, a United Nations World Heritage Site and a Site of Conscience. As a private, nonprofit organization, the foundation’s regular operating budget does not receive ongoing government support to fund its twofold mission of preservation and education. For information, visit

About the University of Virginia
Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia sustains the ideal of developing, through education, leaders who are well-prepared to help shape the future of the nation and the world. The University is public, while nourished by the strong support of its alumni. It is also selective; the students who come here have been chosen because they show the exceptional promise Jefferson envisioned.

Photos available on request.

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