Inaugural Aspen Ideas Award Finalists Announced

June 10, 2015

Contact: Jennifer Myers
Director, Communications and Public Affairs
The Aspen Institute
(202) 736-2906 |

Inaugural Aspen Ideas Award Finalists Announced
$25,000 to be awarded to each of the three winners

Aspen, CO, June 8, 2015 After 9,766 votes were cast and a panel of judges weighed in, this year’s finalists for the inaugural Aspen Ideas Award seek to address pressing issues from around the globe. Developed with Booz Allen Hamilton (NYSE: BAH), the Aspen Ideas Award is designed to inspire ideas and innovation that will have a lasting impact on communities around the globe. Three winners will receive $25,000 each.   

This year and in the future, the Aspen Institute chooses prompts that acknowledge challenges to the well-being of our planet and of our society. All Festival Scholars and Speakers are eligible to submit a project. Finalists were selected through a combination of online voting open to the general public and evaluations from a panel of judges. The Aspen Ideas Award winners will be selected by a panel of judges through live pitch sessions during the 2015 Aspen Ideas Festival where 5 finalists in each of the sessions–Spotlight Health, Festival 1, and Festival 2–will pitch their projects for a chance to win the $25,000 award.

The finalists and their submissions are as follows: 

Spotlight Health

  • Peter Drobac, Presenter, Build Back Better After Ebola: The Aequitas Fellowship in Entrepreneurial Leadership
  • Rubayat Kahn, Presenter, Doctor-in-a-tab
  • Kopana Mabaso, Scholar, The “Ona-Mototo-Lako” (See your baby) Project
  • Abraham Verghese, Presenter, Touching Where It Hurts: Reducing Error and Bringing Skill to the Bedside
  • Jocelyn Wyatt, Presenter, A Disruptive Lifesaving Startup in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Festival 1

  • Michael Anti, Presenter, One-Kindle-Hundred-Book Library for Schools in Poor Communities
  • Kristin Ferguson, Scholar, Bringing Up Girls: Empowering the Next Generation of Sustainability Leaders
  • Kenna Kay, Scholar, The BrightSide Solution: Eliminating Food Deserts, Empowering Local Youth
  • Ai-Jen Poo, Presenter, Caring for the Caregivers: Digital Meditation, Mindfulness and Centering Tools
  • Kelli Taylor, Scholar, On The Same Page UNITED: Poetry creates connection between inmates and community

Festival 2

  • Sanda Balaban, Scholar, CityPathways (cPaths): Helping Youth See Paths to Possible Futures
  • Ashanti Branch, Scholar, @EverForwardClub: Preparing more young men of color for college
  • Andeisha Farid, Scholar, Youth Leadership Academy for Afghan Girls
  • Gidi Grinstein, Presenter, TOM: Tech and Design Innovation Lab for Societal Problems
  • Lisa New, Presenter, Upon My Toes: Turnaround Arts for English Teachers

“Each of the 100 entries for the inaugural Aspen Ideas Award promises to get us closer to solving one of the world’s most complex challenges,” said Bill Thoet, executive vice president, Booz Allen. “We believe that putting great ideas into practice requires a community. We’re thrilled to be Aspen Institute’s partner, and to see the level of public support for this initiative.”  

Winners will be chosen following live pitch sessions at the Aspen Ideas Festival on June 27 at 11:40 am MT, June 30 at 11:40 am MT, and July 3 at 11:40 am MT.

For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit 

Booz Allen Hamilton has been at the forefront of strategy and technology for more than 100 years. Today, the firm provides management and technology consulting and engineering services to governments in the civil, defense, and intelligence markets, global corporations, and not-for-profit organizations. Booz Allen partners with private and public sector clients to solve their most difficult challenges. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, the firm employs more than 22,500 people globally, and had revenue of $5.27 billion for the 12 months ended March 31, 2015. To learn more, visit (NYSE: BAH) 


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