For her work in enriching young women through the non-profit organization Strong Women, Strong Girls, the American Institute of Public Service honored Hyde with the Samuel S. Beard Award for Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 Years or Younger, one of four national public service awards given out at Tuesday’s annual Jefferson Awards for Public Service ceremony.
"It feels a little unreal to be honored in such a way and particularly to be receiving such a particular award with such phenomenal other honorees," Hyde said. "My fellow honorees are people of such distinction and such great character and certainly people who I’ve looked up to for quite a long period of time."
In addition to Armstrong and Hill, past winners of the award include last year’s honoree, Peyton Manning, as well as Steve Jobs, Max Cleland and the US Olympic Hockey Team. In 1992, Alan A. Khazei ’83—co-founder and CEO of City Year, a national service organization that promotes full-time volunteering—was a co-winner of the award.
The selection committee for this year’s Jefferson Awards chose Hyde from a pool of about 30 other potential winners, National Director for the Jefferson Awards for Public Service Jonathan D. Peters said.
"It was her initiative for starting Strong Women, Strong Girls as a freshman in college and the success of the program that probably impressed the judges," Peters said.
Strong Women, Strong Girls recruits college-aged women to volunteer and teach important life skills and to serve as important female role models for young, elementary-aged girls. Hyde said that winning the award would not only allow Strong Women, Strong Girls to gain greater national exposure but would also raise awareness for the need of mentoring programs.
"[The award] gives us an opportunity to highlight the important work that we do each and every day as well as really provide some motivation for other people to get involved because they’ll become more aware of the program," Hyde said. "It also raises the issue of girls, in particular, really needing some additional services and provides an opportunity to highlight how everyone can be involved in supporting the young people in our community."
Hyde established the Strong Women, Strong Girls during her freshman year at Harvard through the Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA). The organization currently serves 20 elementary schools and community centers in the greater Boston area and is expanding to Pittsburg, Pa. Hyde, who is now the executive director of Strong Women, Strong Girls, attributes the success of the organization to the strong support of volunteers, sponsors, and community service organizations.
"One of the things that I think was really fortunate was that we had the support of PBHA," Hyde said. "PBHA provided tremendous resources for student leadership, for making meaningful connections to the community, and for thinking about really intentional program development and design and evaluation. The folks over there were just a huge resource for me and were really a place where I could turn and continues to actually be a place where I can turn to when I have questions."
Other 2007 Jefferson Award winners include Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Columbia University Health Policy Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, and Harlem Children’s Zone President Geoffrey Canada, along with about 85 other winners.
The American Institute for Public Service established the Jefferson Awards in 1973 to serve as a Nobel Prize of sorts for public and community service, Peters said.