Rancho Santa Fe philanthropist awarded 2012 Ellis Island Medal of Honor


Rancho Santa Fe resident Harry Leibowitz, Ph.D., who co-founded the nonprofit World of Children Award ( with his wife Kay Isaacson-Leibowitz, has been chosen for an award of his own – the 2012 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. This is a recognition given to remarkable Americans who exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives while continuing to preserve the richness of their particular heritage.

This year’s Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipients include Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, actress Brooke Shields, singer Frankie Valli and other notable leaders of industry, education, the arts, sports and government. Past medalists include six Presidents, numerous Nobel Prize winners and leaders such as Rosa Parks, Dolores Huerta, Muhammad Ali, Bob Hope, Muriel Siebert, U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye and Elie Wiesel.

Leibowitz and his fellow medalists will be honored at May 12 gala celebration on Ellis Island hosted by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO).

“As a child of immigrants, whose parents and grandparents walked more than 1,000 miles with barely the clothes on their backs for the opportunity to get on a ship and come to the United States, I can think of no greater recognition for the work we all do for children in need than the Ellis Island Medal of Honor,” Leibowitz said. “I am deeply grateful to accept this honor on behalf of all those brave and selfless individuals who have devoted their lives to serving vulnerable children throughout the world.”

Established in 1986 by NECO, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor was designed to pay homage to the immigrant experience, as well as for individual achievement. Medals are awarded to U.S. citizens from various ethnic backgrounds whose professional and personal contributions have created a better world. Both the United States House of Representatives and Senate have officially recognized the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and each year’s recipients are read into the Congressional Record.

Co-founded in 1998 by Leibowitz and his wife, Kay Isaacson-Leibowitz, the World of Children Award is the only global recognition and funding non-profit that recognizes individuals who are improving the lives of vulnerable children worldwide.

For 15 years, the World of Children Award – which has been hailed by the media as the “Nobel Prize for Child Advocates” – has used a rigorous vetting process to identify the world’s most effective child advocates and provide funding for their efforts to improve children’s lives. The organization’s exhaustive research and vetting of individuals spearheading health and humanitarian initiatives across the global spectrum has been hailed by leading philanthropic organizations.

Since 1998, the World of Children Award has granted more than $4.8 million in cash grants and program support to 90 honorees who are the driving force behind organizations serving children in more than 100 countries. More about Leibowitz and the World of Children Award can be found at More about the Ellis Island of Medal of Honor can be found at