The Berkeley Community Fund has announced that it will award the 2013 Benjamin Ide Wheeler Medal to Susan Medak, managing director of Berkeley Repertory Theatre. The prestigious award, established in 1929, honors a person who has made significant, long-term contributions to the greater Berkeley community. The medal will be granted to Ms. Medak at the Fund's annual awards dinner on October 4.
In announcing the award, BCF President Jessica Pers said, "Susan Medak has profoundly affected life in Berkeley since she first arrived in 1990. Berkeley Rep has become an internationally respected cultural resource under her guidance, but even more importantly, her creative vision, persistence, and leadership have paved the way for significant growth of cultural life in Berkeley.
"Ms. Medak's contributions extend well beyond the theatre. She was instrumental in revitalizing downtown Berkeley into a vibrant arts district with live theatre, music, and arts education. She was also the founding chair of the Berkeley Arts in Education Steering Committee for the Berkeley Unified School District, founding chair of the Berkeley Cultural Trust, and is the current president of the Downtown Berkeley Association."
"This is a community that takes particular pride in a high level of civic engagement by its citizens," Medak remarks. "So it is a true honor to be recognized alongside such prestigious past winners when there are so many people who play such an active role in making Berkeley the vibrant and vital place that it is."
The Benjamin Ide Wheeler Medal, established by the Service Council of Berkeley in 1929, is named after one of the most admired presidents of the University of California. Dr. Wheeler always thought in terms of value to human life, no matter what issue he tackled. He led and fostered a close, supportive relationship between the campus and the community. The Berkeley Community Fund has had the responsibility of granting the Wheeler Medal since 1994 and is proud to have honored individuals from many segments of the Berkeley community, including renowned environmentalist David R. Brower, Robert Cole of Cal Performances, Judge Thelton E. Henderson, classical conductor Kent Nagano, respected physicist Arthur Rosenfeld, PhD, and Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, as well as three local leaders who, in addition to their own accomplishments, have been enthusiastic supporters of Berkeley Rep over the years: radio personality and philanthropist Narsai David and the founders of Meyer Sound, Helen and John Meyer.
The Berkeley Community Fund is a charitable nonprofit organization founded in 1991 by a group of people whose love for Berkeley and for a community of hope and equity inspired them to set up a fund that would reflect their goals. BCF now provides four-year college scholarships and mentoring support for academically talented and resilient Berkeley High School students. Through generous donations from businesses and individuals, it has been able to help 62 "High Hopes Scholars" attending public and private universities and colleges throughout the country. Many are the first in their families to attend college. In light of the ever-increasing cost of attending college, BCF's scholarship funds bridge the gap between financial support provided by government and educational institutions and the cost of attending four-year colleges.