The Jefferson Awards

Sam Beard wearing a Code the Change shirt with Sam King

In my senior year at Stanford (2011-2012), I lived in Branner Hall. The Resident Fellow there is Tom Schnaubelt, the director of the Haas Center for Public Service. I do public service things, and I was active in my dorm (I was the financial manager, for instance), so I got to know him over the year.

Fast forward to February, 2013. I get an email from the Jefferson Awards letting me know that I'm a finalist for their national Globechangers award. You might feel as though I have left out some context. Nope! Later, they say that I am one of the winners, and I mention it to Tom. He, embarrassed, tells me that he was talking with Sam Beard, the founder and director of the Jefferson Awards, and that he mentioned my name but forgot to mention it to me. As a result, not only did I win an award, but I also have a wonderful story about winning an award without even knowing that the award existed beforehand!

The awards ceremony was in New York on a Wednesday. Given that I had commitments on Tuesday and Thursday (well, Wednesday too), I took a red eye in and a red eye out. Fun, fun, fun!

The Jefferson Awards is actually a very cool organization. They were founded with the idea of creating a "Nobel Prize for public service," and since their founding, they have recognized many public servants, including Supreme Court justices, civil rights leaders, and nonprofit organizations. It was a huge honor for me to get an award. On the stage with me were Marty Lyons, a player for the New York Jets who received an award for his work with terminally ill children in the Marty Lyons Foundation, and the leaders of the Robin Hood Foundation, which has raised a billion dollars (a billion!) for fighting poverty in New York.

I got a medal, gave a short speech about Code the Change, and, letting no good deed go unpunished, I gave Sam Beard a Code the Change shirt before stepping down. He donned it on stage and continued wearing it for the rest of the event! He's a very friendly and down to earth guy.

It was great to be honored as a Jefferson Awards Globechanger!