―Yesterday, President Barack Obama named Ambassador , founder of VSA, the international organization on arts and disability, a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Medal of Freedom is the country’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made great contributions to U.S. security or world peace, or made other cultural or significant accomplishments. President Obama will present the awards at a ceremony in early 2011.
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) November 18, 2010
“Ambassador Smith is a pioneer,” said Soula Antoniou, president of VSA. “Because of her work, students of all abilities today have opportunities to express themselves and learn through the arts. Doors are open for artists with disabilities, and their work is being celebrated for its quality.
“On behalf of VSA, our advisory board of directors, artists, and the seven million people touched each year through our work, we congratulate Ambassador Smith on this well-deserved honor.”
Ambassador Smith founded VSA in 1974. For 46 years, she has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, which provides grants to promote awareness and advocacy in the field of intellectual disabilities. Her book, Chronicles of Courage: Very Special Artists, written in collaboration with George Plimpton, was published by Random House in April 1993. President Clinton named Smith U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, where she played a pivotal role in the peace process from 1993 to 1998. Ambassador Smith is the Secretary of the .
A quick listing of some of the other recipients of this award include:
President Jimmy Carter
Edward R. Murrow
Martin Luther King Jr.
If you are interested in reading a more comprehensive list of those honored with this award you can visit the wikipedia site here. Please visit VSA here.