Visionary Leadership Award

The Visionary Leadership Award honors a leader whose trailblazing work is impacting the world. The award luncheon and its associated events occur outside the two-week Festival, and proceeds from the award luncheon support The Jean Handley Fund for the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. The award luncheon and associated events connect the Festival's ideas programs to every day impacts on the community.

The Award was created in honor of the late Jean M. Handley’s leadership as a Founding Director of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. Ms. Handley provided thoughtful and effective leadership as a lifelong champion of many of the region’s arts, cultural, social, and educational organizations. She was also a role model for women: a person of extraordinary wisdom and an individual of exceedingly high standards who was generous with her talent and time.

7th Annual Visionary Leadership Award Recipient

We are thrilled announce that the 7th Visionary Leadership Award will be presented on January 25, 2017 to revitalization strategy consultant, real estate developer, and Peabody Award winning broadcaster Majora Carter.

Majora has set new standards of excellence with projects in her South Bronx community, while expanding her reach through philanthropic pursuits and business interests that have all pointed toward greater self-esteem and economic potential for low-income people everywhere. A MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, Majora is responsible for the creation and successful implementation of numerous green-infrastructure projects, policies, and job training and placement systems.
More about the Visionary Leadership Award Luncheon

Previous Recipients

6th: Sheryl WuDunn, Business Leader, Award Winning Journalist, and Human Rights Activist
5th: Angélique Kidjo, Singer, songwriter, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
4th : Sheila Nevins, President, HBO Documentary Films
3rd: Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Award Winning Journalist and Activist
2nd: Jill Abramson, first female Executive Editor of The New York Times
1st: Zainab Salbi, Founder of Women for Women International
See full list of honoree biographies ›

About the Commemorative Award

Pictured above, the Festival’s Visionary Leadership Award is embodied in Hartford-born contemporary art visionary Sol LeWitt’s ceramic plate Star (1984).

A Connecticut native, much like Jean Handley, Mr. LeWitt drew inspiration from his home state where he worked and shaped his artistic ideas. Described by Time magazine as “the man who made conceptual art an appealing concept…introducing a human factor into what could otherwise have been a mechanical process,” Sol loved to make decorative objects, and used to travel regularly to collaborate with local artisans to the town of Deruta in the Umbria region of central Italy, known worldwide for its ceramics.

The tile, from a series that LeWitt made in the mid 1980s ranging from 3 point to 10 point stars, is a traditional 5 point star. The plate was painted at the small factory LaGioconda, where the crystalline glaze and second firing distinguishes the pottery and gives the ceramic its legendary shine and opulence. The International Festival of Arts & Ideas thanks the LeWitt Family for commissioning and donating this Award.