On November 3rd, 2016, the Aspen Institute hosted the 33rd Annual Awards Dinner at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. The dinner was chaired by Mercedes T. Bass.
The Institute honored Robert K. Steel, CEO of Perella Weinberg Partners and former Chairman of the Aspen Institute Board of Trustees, with the prestigious Henry Crown Leadership Award. Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was honored with the Public Service Award and joined Walter Isaacson in a conversation on her work, her many accomplishments, and her aspirations for the future. This year’s special guest was Tom Brokaw, the award-winning journalist who served as the anchor of NBC Nightly News for over 20 years and reported on key historic events ranging from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the September 11th attacks, who concluded the evening with a conversation moderated by Jane Pauley, his former NBC Today Show colleague and host of CBS Sunday Morning.
Special Correspondent, NBC News
Tom Brokaw has spent his entire distinguished journalism career with NBC News beginning in 1966 in the Los Angeles bureau where he covered Ronald Reagan’s first run for public office, the rise of the Sixties counter culture, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and the 1968 presidential campaign.
From Los Angeles, Brokaw went to Washington as the White House correspondent during Watergate and as the principal back up for John Chancellor as anchor of NBC Nightly News. Next stop: New York and the TODAY show followed by his appointment as anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.
He took over Meet the Press for the 2008 campaign when his close friend and colleague Tim Russert died.
In addition to his daily newsgathering responsibilities, Brokaw reported on more than thirty documentaries covering subjects ranging from AIDS, Los Angeles gangs, race, education, medicine, immigration and global warming.
He has an impressive list of firsts, including the first interview with Mikhail Gorbachev; the first network report on human rights abuses in Tibet accompanied by an exclusive interview with the Dali Lama; the only American network anchor to report from Berlin the night the Berlin Wall came down.
In 1998 Brokaw published his first book, The Greatest Generation, one of the most popular nonfiction books of the 20th century. He followed that with six other books, including Boom! Voices of the Sixties, The Time of Our Lives and, most recently, A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir.
He is also a popular essayist for publications ranging from The New York Times to Rolling Stone and a wide assortment of other periodicals and newspapers.
Brokaw has won every major award in his craft, including Peabody, Duponts, Emmys and lifetime achievement recognition. In November of 2014 Brokaw was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, the highest civilian award given to those who made “meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Philanthropist Melinda Gates has dedicated her life to achieving transformational improvements in the health and prosperity of families, communities and societies. Core to her work is empowering women and girls to help them realize their full potential. As Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is guided by the belief that every life has equal value, Melinda shapes and approves strategies, reviews results, and sets the overall direction of the world’s largest private foundation. Melinda recently launched an executive office, Pivotal Ventures, which enables her to bring together the different strands of her advocacy and philanthropic work and create meaningful change. Melinda received a bachelor’s degree from Duke and an MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School. After joining Microsoft Corp. in 1987, she helped develop many of the company’s multimedia products. In 1996, Melinda left Microsoft to focus on her philanthropic work and family.
Robert K. Steel
CEO, Perella Weinberg Partners
Robert K. Steel is a Partner and serves as Chief Executive Officer of Perella Weinberg Partners. From June 2010 until December 2013 Mr. Steel served as Deputy Mayor for Economic Development for the City of New York in the Administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg where he was responsible for the Administration’s economic development strategy and job-creation efforts, as well as its efforts to expand job training, strengthen small business assistance, promote new industries, diversify the economy, advance the New Housing Marketplace Plan and spearhead the administration’s major redevelopment projects.
Prior to his 2010 appointment as Deputy Mayor, Mr. Steel was the President and CEO of Wachovia. From 2006 to 2008, he was the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Prior to entering government service, he spent nearly 30 years at Goldman Sachs, ultimately rising to become co-head of the U.S. Equities Division and Vice Chairman of the firm.
He is a graduate of Duke University and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and has distinguished himself as Chairman of Duke’s Board of Trustees, Chairman of the Aspen Institute Board of Trustees, Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a member of the FDIC Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion, Chairman of The After-School Corporation, and Co-Founder of SeaChange Capital Partners, an organization dedicated to helping nonprofits grow.
Host, CBS Sunday Morning
A familiar face on morning, daytime and primetime television and one of broadcasting’s most respected journalists, Jane Pauley is the host of CBS Sunday Morning. Pauley began her network career as co-host of TODAY for thirteen years, anchored Dateline NBC for more than a decade and hosted her own daytime program, The Jane Pauley Show.
Pauley is the recipient of multiple Emmys, the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism, the Edward R. Murrow Award for outstanding achievement, the Gracie Allen Award for outstanding achievement by an individual, the Wilbur Award and the CINE Golden Eagle Award. Pauley is a member of the Broadcast and Cable Hall of Fame.
Pauley has written two New York Times bestsellers. A memoir, Skywriting: A Life Out of the Blue (2004) and Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life (2014).
A longtime advocate in children’s health and education, Pauley is a member of the Board of Directors of Children’s Health Fund, The Mind Trust and Encore.org and is a highly regarded spokesperson in mental health. She and her husband, Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, are the parents of three grown children.