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Press Release

International Rescue Committee Honors Bryan Stevenson with the IRC Freedom Award & the Arnhold Family with the John C. Whitehead Humanitarian Award

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The International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award is presented annually to individuals who have made extraordinary contributions in support of refugees, and who have championed the cause of liberty, individual freedom and dignity. The list of those who have received the Freedom Award reveals the remarkable ability of an individual to shape history and change for the world for the better. 

This year’s Freedom Award is awarded to social justice activist Bryan Stevenson. Bryan is an acclaimed public interest lawyer and founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a human rights organization based in Montgomery, Alabama. Bryan has dedicated his career to helping people falsely incarcerated, suffering the effects of racism, and marginalized by society.  He has been a beacon of hope in the US, and increasingly around the world.

Under Bryan’s leadership, the Equal Justice Initiative has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. Bryan is also a Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law. 

David Miliband, president and CEO, said: “Bryan is a personal hero for me. He has dedicated his career to helping those denied a voice and too often denied hope.  At a time of unprecedented humanitarian crisis, and a global reckoning for the values of anti-racism, freedom and social justice, his vision, his tenacity, and his example make him an inspiring Freedom Award winner.”

The John C. Whitehead Humanitarian Award was created in recognition of Mr. Whitehead’s half-century of transformational leadership of the IRC. It is presented annually to individuals who embody Mr. Whitehead’s spirit and passion for humanitarian causes and who have made significant contributions to saving and improving lives around the world. 

This year, the IRC honors his legacy by presenting the award to the Arnhold family, visionary philanthropists and longtime supporters of the International Rescue Committee. In 2016, the late Henry Arnhold, himself a refugee from Nazi Germany, launched a new era at the IRC and in the aid sector by helping to establish what is now a leading humanitarian research and innovation center: IRC’s Airbel Impact Lab.

David Miliband, President and CEO of the IRC, continued: “The IRC needed visionary philanthropists to help found a new Research & Development Center to power breakthrough innovation for the benefit of refugees and displaced people at a time of unprecedented global crisis. Today we honor the Arnhold family for standing with us and our clients in pursuit of life saving humanitarian programs.”

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.