Ann Hamilton painting


John Heinz lived his life by the Socratic creed, the philosophy that life is made worth living by continuous questioning, examination and exploration. Keenly appreciative of the role that the arts play in building awareness of the self and of community, he viewed the arts as a medium through which a society examines its conscience and searches for its identity.

A lover of the written word, painting and music, John Heinz took great joy in the beauty and ideas inherent in every aspect of the creative process. He valued not only art itself but also the creators who shape our culture and help us all to better understand its challenges and value its achievements.

Concentrating on excellence in the visual arts, the Heinz Award in the Arts seeks to recognize individual creators whose singular work advances this same spirit of curiosity and faith in the power of the human mind and, in some way, enlightens the human experience.

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Man with hard helmet walking away from camera


As a U.S. Senator, John Heinz articulated a broad and inclusive vision for our national and global economic future. He advocated for an economy driven by enterprise and innovation but that also valued and prepared workers, embraced human dignity, and respected the natural world.

His perceptiveness on this issue made him a man ahead of his time. Long before the language of economic inclusion cycled into favor, he spoke about the need for an economy that worked for everyone over the long haul. In this, he took his mandate from the challenges facing his home state of Pennsylvania. As long as Americans had the opportunity to perform quality work and were given the means to do so, he believed that the United States would remain a thriving power providing a high quality of life for its citizens and a beacon of responsible economic leadership in the world.

The Heinz Award in the Economy celebrates significant contributions to building a more dynamic, inclusive and sustainable economy. It honors individuals whose exceptional work advances prosperity through envisioning and promoting socially responsible policy and business practices.

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Woman snorkeling underwater


As with many people then and now, John Heinz came by his concern for the environment initially through his love of the outdoors. But it was his broad systems view coupled with his devotion to practical problem-solving that ultimately set him apart, helping him to forge a new and enduring vision for aligning environmental and economic interests based on sound science and thoughtful policy-making.

As a U.S. Senator, John Heinz backed legislation to protect natural resources and preserve natural heritage in Pennsylvania, expand parks and recreational areas, and maintain critical infrastructure. What that close-to-home work taught him was how interconnected the environment, the economy, and human well-being truly are, a critical lesson that formed the basis for his seminal national environmental work.

Joined by his friend U.S. Senator Timothy Wirth, he sponsored two groundbreaking studies on putting the marketplace to work on behalf of the environment instead of against it that ultimately facilitated passage of the landmark 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. He organized legislators from the world's major industrialized nations to work jointly on ending political paralysis on environmental issues. He also promoted the earliest debt-for-nature swaps to protect the world’s rainforests.

The Heinz Award in the Environment honors individuals who, like John Heinz, have confronted environmental concerns with a spirit of innovation and who demonstrate a similar blend of action and creativity in approaching the protection of our environment.

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Previous Categories

From 1993 to 2020, the Heinz Awards encompassed the categories of Arts and Humanities, Environment, Human Condition, Public Policy, and Technology, Economy and Employment. Special recognition was focused on the Environment in 2009 and 2011, on Global Change in 2010 and to commemorate the program’s 25th Anniversary in 2020. Throughout the years, there have also been special Chairman’s medals given from time to time.

The Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities recognizes the individual creator and thinker, as well as those who best preserve, teach, interpret and advance the spirit of curiosity.

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The Heinz Award in the Environment honors individuals who have confronted environmental concerns with innovation, action and creativity, and in the process have improved our daily lives and our planet’s health.

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The Heinz Award in the Human Condition honors individuals who have developed and implemented significant new programs in fields such as education, health, aging, and children and youth.

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The Heinz Award in Public Policy recognizes individuals who have significantly influenced administrative, legislative or regulatory processes, and who have advanced liberties and bettered society. Elected or appointed officials are not eligible.

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The Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment recognizes individuals who have created and implemented innovative, yet practical technologies or programs to advance regional or national economic growth through job creation and competitiveness.

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Presented at the discretion of the Board of Directors, the Chairman’s Medal is a non-monetary award recognizing individuals whose careers have been distinguished by a pattern of singular accomplishment and lifetime achievement.

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