About the Award

The Eric Oddleifson A|L Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant impact on arts education across the nation, and is selected by the Arts|Learning Board of Trustees.

This award was named in 2013 to honor the memory and vision of Eric Oddleifson (1935-2011), Co-Founder and Vice-President and Treasurer of the Arts|Learning Board, whose life-long commitment to providing arts education for all students has impacted countless lives.  Through his writings, community service and leadership, Eric Oddleifson contributed his talents, his time and his resources to transforming education by placing the arts at the center of learning.

The award was previously named the NALC Award (2001-2009) and the A|L Award (2010-2012).

Past recipients include:

2014

David Edwards
Founder, the ArtScience Prize, ArtScience Labs, Cloud Place

David Edwards is a scientist, writer and inventor, and lives between Paris, France, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he oversees his original institution of cultural creation, Le Laboratoire.  Le Lab is David Edwards’ open experiment with artists, designers, scientists, and the general public, whereby many of his most powerful innovations, from edible packaging, to olfactory communication, have been conceived, developed, and translated into cultural, commercial, and humanitarian practice worldwide.

His educational work as faculty at Harvard University, where he is Professor of the Practice of Idea Translation, has spawned the educational program. The ArtScience Prize, now in 19 sites around the world, and closely related to his work at Le Laboratoire. He is the author of over 100 patents, a writer of fiction and nonfiction, and has started multiple for-profit and nonprofit organizations in the USA, Europe and Africa.  He is among the youngest members elected to the American and French Academies of Engineering, and has received many national and international honors including Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture.

2013

Aaron Dworkin
Founder and President of the Sphinx Organization and accomplished electric and acoustic violinist

Named a 2005 MacArthur Fellow, a former member of the Obama National Arts Policy Committee and President Obama’s first appointment to the National Council on the Arts, Aaron P. Dworkin is the Founder and President of the Sphinx Organization, a leading national arts organization that focuses on youth development and diversity in classical music. An author, social entrepreneur, artist-citizen and an avid youth-education advocate, he has received extensive national recognition for his vast accomplishments. His memoir titled Uncommon Rhythm: A Black, White, Jewish, Jehovah’s Witness, Irish Catholic Adoptee’s Journey to Leadership was released through Aquarius Press.

Mr. Dworkin authored an autobiographical poetry collection entitled They Said I Wasn’t Really Black as well as a children’s book entitled The 1st Adventure of Chilli Pepperz. His writings have been featured in Symphony Magazine, Polyphonic.org, Andante, an on-line music industry magazine and others. He has contributed to the first English edition of Superior Bowing Technique, a treatise by legendary violinist Lucien Capet, and authored the foreword to William Grant Still’s Violin Collection published by WGS Music. Mr. Dworkin founded and served as Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Bard, a literary magazine with a readership of over 40,000 throughout southeast Michigan.

An accomplished electric and acoustic violinist, Mr. Dworkin received his Bachelors of Music and Masters of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Michigan School of Music, graduating with high honors. He attended the Peabody Institute, the Philadelphia New School and the Interlochen Arts Academy, studying with Vladimir Graffman, Berl Senofsky, Jascha Brodsky, John Eaken, Renata Knific, Donald Hopkins and Stephen Shipps.

Founder and President of The Sphinx Organization, he has built an infrastructure and led fundraising efforts totaling over 14 million dollars overseeing a staff and faculty of more than 40. With over $150,000 in prizes and scholarships awarded annually, the Sphinx Competition showcases the top young musicians of color of the highest artistic caliber and features top professional minority musicians through the all Black and Latino Sphinx Symphony. The organization also impacts groups underrepresented in classical music through its educational and community programming including the Sphinx Preparatory Music Institute and Sphinx Performance Academy which reach over 35,000 youth each year.

2012

Anita Walker
Massachusetts Cultural Council

Anita Walker has served as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) since April 2007. Walker is the Commonwealth’s highest ranking cultural official, overseeing a range of grant programs, services, and advocacy for the arts, humanities, and sciences in communities across Massachusetts.

Walker has raised the visibility of the creative sector as a driving force for growth and prosperity in Massachusetts. She led investment of $37 million in arts and cultural building projects statewide since 2007 through the Mass. Cultural Facilities Fund. The Fund has provided more than 11,000 construction jobs and will create more than 1,150 new permanent jobs, while helping to spur nearly $840 million in new investment in Massachusetts. Walker also led a new program of operating support for nonprofit arts, humanities, and science organizations called the Cultural Investment Portfolio that deepens the state’s partnership with nearly 400 outstanding institutions.

Under Walker’s leadership, MCC also has put a spotlight on the role that creativity and arts education play in student achievement and success. She led the effort to include the arts as part of the Massachusetts Board of Education’s recommended core curriculum for high school students. She launched the Creative Minds initiative, through which MCC has expanded its reach to provide arts education to more Massachusetts schoolchildren. She also led a partnership with the Bank of America Foundation to create the Big Yellow School Bus program, which has helped schools send more than 100,000 students on field trips to Mass. cultural organizations.

Before coming to Massachusetts, Walker was director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs for seven years, serving simultaneously as executive director of the Iowa Arts Council, administrator of the State Historical Society, and the state historic preservation officer. During her tenure in Iowa, Walker engaged more than 400 state and local businesses to consider the role of the creative sector as a driving force in economic development, in part by leading the first comprehensive study of the state’s creative economy. The study was hailed by economist Richard Florida, author of ‘The Rise of the Creative Class,’ as a significant advance on his work in this area, and resulted in several key regions of the state incorporating arts and culture in economic planning efforts. Walker is a native of California and a graduate of Arizona University.

2011

Ambassador Swanee Hunt
Hunt Alternatives Fund

Swanee Hunt founded the Women and Public Policy Program, a research center concerned with domestic and foreign policy, at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She teaches “Inclusive Security,” exploring why women are systematically excluded from peace processes and the policy steps needed to rectify the problem. Additionally, she is the Eleanor Roosevelt Lecturer in Public Policy, core faculty at the Center for Public Leadership, and an adviser to “The Initiative to Stop Human Trafficking” at the Carr Center for Human Rights.

President of Hunt Alternatives Fund, she also chairs The Institute for Inclusive Security (including the Women Waging Peace Network), which advocates for the full participation of all stakeholders, particularly women, in conflict prevention and resolution. She has conducted trainings for women all over the world, including 70 of the highest-ranking women in post-war Iraq and 130 women leaders in Sudan.

A major initiative of the Hunt Alternatives Fund has been the ARTWorks for Kids program, which garners sustained private and public support of arts organizations that transform the lives of youth in Eastern Massachusetts. “Significant work needs significant support.” It promotes the arts in classrooms, afterschool programs, and the larger community to encourage young people to stay on track with the hope this initiative will serve as a model to provoke change in other communities across the country.

Prior to her appointment as US Ambassador to Austria (1993-1997), she chaired and co-chaired mayoral and gubernatorial initiatives dealing with mental health, homelessness and affordable housing, and families services in Colorado. She was a key founder of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado.  Ambassador Hunt is active in politics and has supported hundreds of nonprofit organizations through her private foundation. She is a widely published columnist and has authored two books: the award-winning This Was Not Our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace and a memoir, Half-Life of a Zealot.  Hunt is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on the boards of Crisis Group and USA for UNHCR.

A photographer, she has had more than a dozen one-woman shows in five countries. Her musical composition, “The Witness Cantata,” has been performed in six cities. Hunt speaks frequently at conferences, and makes numerous radio and TV appearances annually.  Hunt holds a BA in philosophy, two master’s degrees (in psychology and religion), and a doctorate in theology. She was married to symphony conductor Charles Ansbacher (1942-2010). They have three children.

2010

Sandra and Philip Gordon
Boston Arts Academy and EdVestors

Sandra Gordon was the founding president of the Boston Arts Academy Foundation, the fundraising and program development arm of BAA.  Under her ten year leadership, the Foundation raised over $10 million in support of arts teachers, programs, art supplies and production costs not covered by public allocations. This public/private partnership has meant continued success for Boston Arts Academy with over 95% of graduates consistently going on to college. The school’s Sandra and Philip Gordon Gallery has hosted numerous visiting artists through the years, providing students with extraordinary opportunities to study with acclaimed, working visual artists.  Currently, Sandy serves as the founding president of the school’s Council of Advocates, a group of business and community leaders charged with advocating on behalf of the school and arts education in the greater community.

Philip co-founded EdVestors, a non-profit organization that drives change in urban schools through smart, strategic private investment by identifying and shaping the most effective initiatives, partnering with donors to invest in these efforts, and supporting project leaders with hands-on expertise. Since its launch in 2002, EdVestors has raised over $7 million in private support of high-impact school improvement efforts in the communities of Boston and Lowell.  A significant amount of this funding has supported programs that bring the arts back to the public school classrooms.  This has led to a unique partnership between the Boston Public Schools, EdVestors and other foundations that recently culminated in the launch of the BPS Arts Expansion Initiative, a three-year effort to expand direct arts instruction during the school day to all students in the BPS district.

2009

Ann McQueen
Senior Program Officer, The Boston Foundation

Ann McQueen exemplifies activism, advocacy, and vision in the arts. She is not only the Senior Program Officer at The Boston Foundation, where she has left an indelible imprint on the arts community over the past 16 years, but she is also on the Board of Directors for Grantmakers in the Arts, she is Co-Chair of the Neck Art Project for LandWave, and the owner of a fine arts and commercial photography company, McQueen Studio.  As a working artist, Ann’s photography has been published in 3 anthologies of work from the Polaroid Collection and is represented in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  Her photography has taken her to Europe, Turkey, Egypt, China, Vietnam, and Singapore.

Ms. McQueen is a strong and long-standing proponent for public arts projects and sustaining our cultural abundance through community-based art experiences and opportunities, particularly in and around the Boston area.  The Neck Art Project is an initiative of the residents of Boston’s South End and others to implement the public art project, LandWave, in Peters Park to mark the historic neck of the Shawmut Peninsula.

Ann has served on the Board of Directors of the United South End Settlements, a non-profit organization management industry.  Previous positions included being coordinator for Grants and Research of the Worcester Art Museum, a consultant for the LEF Foundation, and a Fellow in Arts Administration at the National Endowment for the Arts.

Ann McQueen earned a B.A. in Art History from Wheaton College, a M.S. in Film from Boston University, and another M.S., for Arts Administration at Lesley University.

2008

Paul Reville
Massachusetts Secretary of Education

Paul Reville assumed the position the Massachusetts Secretary of Education on July 1, 2008 where he will be overseeing the recently created Executive Office of Education. He is a Senior Lecturer on Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and recently stepped down as the Director of the Education Policy and Management Program while he serves as Secretary.

He is the former president of the Rennie Center for Education Research& Policy, an independent policy organization dedicated to the improvement of PreK-12 public education. Reville is also the former Chairman of the Massachusetts State Board of Education and has served,over the years, on numerous state task forces and committees.Additionally, Reville is the former executive director of the Pew Forum on Standards-Based Reform, a Harvard-based, national education policy”think tank” which convened the U.S.’s leading researchers,practitioners, and policymakers to set the national “standards” agenda.

Reville was founding executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE), which provided key conceptual and political leadership for the Education Reform Act of 1993. He also served on the Massachusetts State Board of Education, where he chaired the Massachusetts Commission on Time and Learning. From 1996 to 2003, Reville chaired the Massachusetts Education Reform Review Commission, which provided research and oversight for implementation of education reform.

2007

Richard J. Deasy
Executive Director, Arts Education Partnership

Richard J. Deasy was the Executive Director of the Arts Education Partnership (AEP) for more than a decade. AEP is a coalition of over100 education, arts, business, philanthropic, and government organizations co-founded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Department of Education, the Council for Chief State School Officers and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, which demonstrates and promotes the essential role of arts education in enabling all students to succeed in school, life, and work.

Under his leadership AEP published seminal research studies and reports that are credited with major advances in arts education in the United States. He commissioned and edited AEP’s widely acclaimed compendium of research, Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development, and co-authored Third Space: When Learning Matters,a study of the transformative effects of the arts in high poverty schools.

Mr. Deasy has been a senior state education official in Maryland and Pennsylvania, president and CEO of the National Council for International Visitors, and a prize-winning reporter on politics and government in Philadelphia and the surrounding metropolitan area. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on slum housing conditions in suburban Philadelphia.

2005

Doug Herbert
Special Assistant on Teacher Quality and Arts Education, U.S. Department of Education

Doug Herbert is a Special Assistant on Teacher Quality and Arts Education in the Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement. From 1992 to May 2004, he was the Director of Arts Education at the National Endowment for the Arts. Under his leadership,the Endowment partnered with the U.S. Department of Education to support the development of national voluntary standards in arts education; to establish inclusion of the arts in The Nation’s Report Card; to evaluate the conditions of arts education nationwide using the Department of Education’s Fast Response Survey System; and to create the Arts Education Partnership.

Mr. Herbert previously served as the programs assistant director,coordinating efforts to develop an arts education research agenda and to recognize exemplary arts education programs. Mr. Herbert was also the national program director for Very Special Arts, an educational affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

2005

Thomas H. Payzant
Superintendent, Boston Public Schools

Thomas H. Payzant served as superintendent of the Boston Public Schools from October of 1995 until his retirement in June of 2006. He is a professor of practice at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Before coming to Boston, he was appointed by President Clinton to serve as assistant secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education with the United States Department of Education.

Over the past decade he has led a number of significant systemic reform efforts that have helped narrow the achievement gap and increase student performance on both state and national assessment exams.

In addition to his tenure in Boston, Payzant has served as Superintendent of Schools in San Diego, Oklahoma City, Eugene, Oregon,and Springfield, Pennsylvania. Payzant’s work has been recognized by educators at the regional and national level. In 1998, he was named Massachusetts Superintendent of the Year.

In 2004, he received the Richard R. Green Award for Excellence in Urban Education from the Council on Great City Schools. Governing Magazine named Payzant one of eight “Public Officials of the Year” in 2005. Payzant also received the McGraw Prize for his leadership of the San Diego school system from 1982 through 1993.

2002

Schuyler G. Chapin
Former Commissioner, NY Department of Cultural Affairs

Schuyler G. Chapin is a former Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for New York City during the administration of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, beginning in 1994. He was vice president (1963-68) in charge of programming of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. In 1972 Chapin became acting general manager and then general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, a position he held until 1976. He was dean of the Columbia University School of the Arts from 1976 to 1987, when he became dean emeritus. He is the author of Leonard Bernstein: Notes from a Friend (1992) and Sopranos, Mezzos, Tenors, Bassos and Other Friends(1995).

2002

Joseph W. Polisi
President, The Juilliard School

Joseph W. Polisi has been the president of The Juilliard School since September 1984. Previously Dr. Polisi was Dean of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Dean of Faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, and Executive Officer of the Yale University School of Music. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale, as well as a degree in political science from the University of Connecticut and one in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

As a bassoonist, Dr. Polisi has performed throughout the United States in solo and chamber performances, as well as at The Juilliard School,Alice Tully Hall, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and at Avery Fisher Hall.

He has written many scholarly and educational articles for professional journals, is a frequent speaker on arts and education issues, has produced several sound recordings, primarily focusing on contemporary American music, and has recorded a solo album of 20th-century bassoon music for Crystal Records. His book, The Artist as Citizen, was published by Amadeus Press in January 2005. His most recent book,American Muse: The Life and Times of William Schuman, the first complete biography of the distinguished composer and arts administrator, will be published by Amadeus Press in October 2008.

2001

Roberta Guaspari
Co-Founder, Opus 118 Harlem School of Music

Roberta Guaspari is Co-Founder and Director of Performance of Opus 118Harlem School of Music. In 1991, 150 kids in three East Harlem public elementary schools were about to lose their cherished violin program as a result of budget cuts. Working with parents, other teachers and volunteers, their violin teacher, Roberta Guaspari, founded Opus 118Harlem School of Music, a private, nonprofit organization, to save the program and to continue to serve public school students in low-income areas.

Roberta Guaspari’s passionate struggle to keep music instruction alive in Harlem’s public schools has inspired two films: Small Wonders, a1996 documentary produced by Allan Miller, and Miramax’s 1999 feature film, Music of the Heart, starring Meryl Streep; both films received Academy Award nominations. The New York City Schools Chancellor restored funds for Ms. Guaspari and for two more Opus violin teachers.Today, Opus serves in six New York public schools.