newsjefferson foundation medal recipients include lgbtq hero attorneys from india

Jefferson Foundation Medal recipients include LGBTQ hero attorneys from India

(© David Matthew Lyons –

UVA and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello will present their highest honors on April 13.

The 2023 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals will be awarded to a trio of national and international luminaries in Architecture, Citizen Leadership and Law.

Andrew Freear, Wiatt Professor and director of the Auburn University Rural Studio, will receive the medal in Architecture for nearly 20 years of directing a program that questions conventional education. Freear lives in Hale County, Alabama. His students have designed and built more than 200 community buildings, homes and parks in their under-resourced community.

The medal in Citizen Leadership will go to Jason Rezaian, an award-winning writer and journalist for The Washington Post and first-generation American of Iranian origin. He became The Post’s Tehran bureau chief in 2012. In 2014, he was arrested on unsubstantiated charges of espionage and freed after 544 days. Rezaian has since used his platform to fight for the freedom and the liberty of others.

Lawyers Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju won a landmark case before India’s Supreme Court in 2018. The case struck down a 157-year-old law that made gay sex illegal. The recipients of the foundation’s medal in law, the pair have become heroes of the LGBTQ community in India, and are spearheading a marriage equality case to be heard by the Supreme Court of India this spring.

“The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals are a highlight of Founder’s Day, and this year’s recipients reflect the spirit and service mission of our founder,” UVA President Jim Ryan said. “From an architect whose innovations better serve our communities, to a writer and journalist whose courage has inspired us all, to practitioners of the law who advocate for freedom and justice in the world’s largest democracy, these deserving winners have furthered human progress and exemplify the ideals of this University.”

The awards are presented in observance of Jefferson’s birthday, — known locally as Founder’s Day. This year mark the 280th anniversary of Jefferson’s birth.

“Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1803 that ‘some … are born for the public. Nature by fitting them for the service of the human race on a broad scale, has stamped them with the evidences of her destination and their duty,’” Thomas Jefferson Foundation President Leslie Greene Bowman said. “This year’s medalists may hail from different parts of the globe and work toward different objectives, yet they share this common sense of duty and devotion to principled leadership. We are honored to recognize their significant accomplishments.”

On April 12, 2023, at 1 p.m., at the School of Law’s Caplin Pavilion, Guruswamy and Katju will give a public talk.

Rezaian will be the featured keynote speaker at Monticello’s commemoration of Jefferson’s birthday on April 13 at 10 a.m. on the West Lawn of Monticello.

Freear will give a talk on April 13 at 4 p.m. in the auditorium in Old Cabell Hall.

All talks are free and open to the public.

This year’s medalists join a distinguished roster of past winners that includes architects Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry, Toyo Ito, Zaha Hadid, Francis Kéré, and Sir David Adjaye OBE; eight former and current U.S. Supreme Court justices; former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher; former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch; special counsel, former FBI director and UVA alumnus Robert S. Mueller III; Gordon Moore, engineer, technologist and entrepreneur; Alice Waters, chef, food activist and founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project; Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund; Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America; oceanographer and author Sylvia Earle; Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve; former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; the Honorable Carlton W. Reeves, second African American appointed to a federal judgeship in Mississippi; and several former and current U.S. senators and representatives, including the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis and the late U.S. Sen. John Warner, also a former secretary of the Navy.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.

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