Press Release: Announcing our 2017 Honorees

Five Child Advocates to be Recognized for Heroic Work with Children at Annual Awards Ceremony on Thursday, November 2 in New York City
Cindi Leive and Ann O’Malley to be Honored with World of Children Board of Governors’ Awards

NEW YORK, NY – September 13, 2017 – World of Children®, a global recognition and funding organization for individuals exclusively serving the needs of vulnerable children, announced today its 2017 Honorees – an extraordinary group of real-life heroes who have dramatically improved the lives of children around the world. This year’s recipients have each lead high-impact programs in health, education, protection, humanitarianism, and more. World of Children, celebrating its 20th anniversary, will honor the recipients at the annual World of Children Awards 2017 on Thursday, November 2 at 583 Park Avenue in New York City.

“20 years ago, we knew that some of the bravest and most courageous people around the world were going unnoticed, and this organization was created to change just that,” said World of Children Co-Founder Harry Leibowitz. “Today, we have the privilege of not only sharing these life-changing stories, but supporting the heroic efforts of our Honorees with funds raised by our generous donors. One little hand by one little hand, and one little heart by one little heart, we will continue to unlock the future for children around the world. We are incredibly hopeful for the future and cannot wait to see what the next 20 years has in store.”

The evening will also honor Cindi Leive (Editor-in-Chief, Glamour) and Ann O’Malley (World of Children Board Member) with the World of Children Board of Governors’ Award for their unwavering dedication to the organization and elevating awareness for child advocates. Lily Aldridge Followill (Internationally renowned model, World of Children Ambassador), Stephanie March (Actress, World of Children Board Member), and Caryl Stern (President of U.S. Fund for UNICEF) will speak at the Awards Ceremony. Alina Cho (Editor at Large, Ballantine Bantam Dell, World of Children Advisory Council Member) will host the event as Master of Ceremonies.

World of Children receives thousands of nominations from around the world ever year and uses a uniquely rigorous vetting process to select Honorees, including an on-site investigation and independent audit of each finalist. Recognized as the “Nobel Prize for Child Advocates,” Honorees will receive a grant to help their program grow and ultimately impact the lives of even more children.

This year’s Honorees include:

  • 2017 World of Children Education Honoree: Maureen Rover, founder of The Reading Team, is boosting elementary school literacy rates by instilling a lifelong love and enthusiasm for reading in children from New York’s disadvantaged communities. Since its inception, The Reading Team has grown from teaching 72 students in 2001 to more than 800 today.
  • 2017 World of Children Health Honoree: Dr. Üstün Ezer, founder of LOSEV, is increasing the survival rate of children with leukemia by pioneering an innovative medical, financial, and educational support system in Turkey. LOSEV provides children with leukemia and chronic blood disorders access to free, life-saving treatment and a strong, holistic support system. Before LOSEV was founded, only 22% of children with leukemia survived. Now, about 92% of children survive.
  • 2017 World of Children Humanitarian Honoree: Winnie Barron, founder of the Makindu Children’s Program, is breaking the cycle of poverty through a community-based approach to the care, education, and empowerment for the most vulnerable children in Makindu – a rural region of eastern Kenya. The Makindu Children’s Program supports Makindu Children’s Centre (MCC), a day resource facility that provides high-protein meals, education, income generating projects, and treatment for HIV and AIDS, in addition to placing children in guardian homes whenever possible to provide a safe and healthy environment to grow up in.
  • 2017 World of Children Protection Honoree: Jackie Branfield, founder of Operation Bobbi Bear, is rebuilding the justice system for children in South Africa who have been abused so they can gain access to treatment, recovery, and care. Operation Bobbi Bear acts as a filter between police and children who have been assaulted. Children who report abuse are taken to a safe, comfortable place, rather than an intimidating environment, where they are given a bear on which to draw. The organization’s goal is to make coming to the authorities easier for children so they are more likely report abuse within 24 hours and be treated for HIV.
  • 2017 World of Children Youth Honoree: Teagan Stedman, founder of Shred Kids’ Cancer, is developing a new market for pediatric cancer research by fusing the power of music and the unstoppable energy of young people, showing children diagnosed with cancer that other youth are fighting the disease alongside them. At just 17 years old, he is working with the Kumbar Lab at University of Connecticut Health to develop new ways to treat tumors and avoid harming healthy cells, allowing children to undergo less harsh cancer therapy and improve recovery. In partnership with World of Children and the Jefferson Awards Foundation, Teagan will also become a 2017 GlobeChanger in the GlobeChangers program, an incubator for young social entrepreneurs that provides mentorship, training, and a support network for the country’s most promising leaders ages 5-25.

The event’s Honorary Chairs include Andy Adler; Lily Aldridge Followill and Caleb Followill; Frances and Francis Fraenkel; Beth and Jim Gold; Maggi and Matthew Goldstein; Anne Hathaway and Adam Shulman; Lauren Bush Lauren and David Lauren; Stephanie March and Dan Benton; Sandy Sholl and Lionel Mendoza. World of Children is led by Co-Founders Harry Leibowitz and Kay Isaacson-Leibowitz, retired senior executives from Procter & Gamble and Victoria’s Secret respectively.

About World of Children
World of Children unlocks the future for vulnerable children by funding and elevating the most effective changemakers for children worldwide. Since 1998, the Foundation has dedicated more than $11.5 million in grants to programs for children, led by more than 100 Honorees working in over 50 countries. World of Children is the only global recognition and funding program that exclusively focuses on a broad range of children’s issues including health, education, safety and human rights.

World of Children has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, People, Town & Country, and Harper’s Bazaar. World of Children Honorees have also been featured by CNN, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Fast Company, Glamour, TEEN Vogue, TIME for Kids, and USA Today, among other national and international media. The Huffington Post named Co-Founders Harry Leibowitz and Kay Isaacson-Leibowitz one of the most inspiring “power couples” in the country for their lifetime commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable children around the world.

About the Jefferson Awards Foundation
The Jefferson Awards Foundation (JAF) powers others to have maximum impact on the things they care about most. Through celebration, they inspire action. With programs and partnerships, they drive Americans to change their communities and the world. To learn more about the Jefferson Awards Foundation, visit: or engage with their community on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook.

Media Contact:
For additional information or to request credentials for this event, please contact Christina Canseco or Hallie Sawyer at PMK∙BNC, 310-854-4800, [email protected]; [email protected].

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