Campus News

Geoffrey Canada '74 to be Honored with Leadership Award

Story posted January 31, 2008

Geoffrey Canada '74, president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone, is to be honored with the 2008 Austin College Leadership Award. Canada's application of the ideals of servant leadership in his quest to revitalize one of New York City's most disadvantaged neighborhoods through his groundbreaking work led to his selection for this prestigious distinction. Canada will personally accept the award at a ceremony to be held March 6, 2008, at the Belo Mansion in Dallas, Texas. The award bears a $100,000 prize.

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Geoffrey Canada '74

"Mr. Canada's determination to reweave Harlem's social fabric by providing a safety net to catch at-risk youth and their families make him an inspiration and an ideal Austin College Leadership Award recipient," said Oscar C. Page, president of Austin College.

"Leaders are measured by the mark they leave on society, and Canada's work has significantly impacted an important 100-block area. His unique approach provides residents with the tools needed to thrive and rise above the pressures of the inner city to achieve success."

The Austin College Leadership Award is an extension of the college's Posey Leadership Institute, which seeks to build character through academic study and hands-on leadership education. The four-year program grounds students in the principles of servant leadership — responsibility, respect, caring, gratitude, and service — and how these values help both communities and their economies thrive. Canada and previous Austin College Leadership Award recipients are chosen because their lives directly model the leadership goals and ideals taught by the Posey Leadership Institute.

"I am honored to receive this award from an institution dedicated to grooming tomorrow's leaders," said Canada, who will share his insights with Austin College students and faculty March 6, 2008, at a campus-wide convocation.

Canada was nominated for the award by Bowdoin College President Barry Mills. "Geoffrey Canada is a man of vision who understands the problems he is attacking," said Mills. "Importantly, he's not just a visionary but an innovative and fearless leader."

Canada, who took the reins of HCZ in 1990, runs the non-profit organization more like a business and is largely credited with its strategic expansion. By involving the public and private sectors, he has helped refocus attention on Harlem and the programs needed to break the chains of poverty to forge a brighter future. His personal experience growing up poor and at-risk in the South Bronx provides him invaluable insight, helping him not only connect to the cause but also pioneer a solution that is producing successful, productive members of the community.

HCZ is the catalyst bringing hope back to Harlem — breathing new life into an underserved urban community through an interlocking network of social service, education, and community-building programs. Serving more than 16,000 children and adults in 2007 alone with programs like Baby College, Promise Academy, the Employment and Technology Center, and The Renaissance University for Community Education (TRUCE), the organization aims to serve 23,000 by 2011. The Austin College Leadership Award's cash prize will be applied to reaching this attainable goal.

Under Canada's leadership, HCZ has gained national recognition as a model for urban redevelopment, even surfacing in the 2008 presidential race, and has been called one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time by The New York Times. His determination to revitalize Harlem one block at a time has earned him numerous other accolades, including Bowdoin's Common Good Award, the McGraw Prize for Education, the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the Robin Hood Foundation's Heroes of the Year Award, Child magazine's "Children's Champion" award, the Spirit of the City Award from the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, and New York University's Brennan Legacy Award.

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