World Childhood Foundation USA's
ThankYou Awards


About Childhood ThankYou Awards

Since 2015, World Childhood Foundation USA has taken the opportunity to recognize three outstanding individuals or corporate leaders who have significantly furthered the cause of children’s rights worldwide. 


2017 Childhood ThankYou Awardees:

Amina J. Mohammed

Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), Ms. Mohammed was the Minister of Environment in Nigeria from 2015 to 2016. She also served as Special Adviser to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Post-2015 Development Planning and was instrumental in developing the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Before joining the UN, Ms. Mohammed worked for three administrations in Nigeria and was Special Advisor on the Millennium Development Goals, coordinating programs worth $1 billion annually.

An adjunct professor at Columbia University, she served on numerous international boards, including the Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution, the Global Development Program of the Gates Foundation, the African Women’s Millennium Initiative, Girl Effect, 2016 African Union Reform, and ActionAid International Right to Education Project.

Melinda Gates

As Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Melinda shapes strategies and sets the direction of the organization. Having seen that empowering women and girls can bring transformational improvements in the lives of families, communities and societies, she spearheaded the London Summit on Family Planning in 2012, which pledged to deliver contraceptives to an additional 120 million women in developing countries by 2020.

Melinda received a BA in computer science and economics from Duke University in 1986 and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business in 1987. She joined Microsoft Corp. in 1987, where she distinguished herself as a leader in the development of multimedia products and was later appointed General Manager of Information Products. In 1996, Melinda left Microsoft to focus on her philanthropic work and family.

Monika A. Heimbold

President of the Heimbold Foundation, Monika is known for her generosity of spirit and passionate devotion to humanitarian causes. The Heimbold Foundation was one of the World Childhood Foundation’s co-founders. Monika has played a leadership role and serves on the Board of Childhood USA.

Monika received a BA in Child Psychology from Sarah Lawrence College as well as an MSW from Columbia University and has worked as a clinical social worker. In 2001, when her husband, Charles Heimbold, was named the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden, she spent four years in her country of birth.

Since 1997, Monika has been an Executive Trustee of the American Scandinavian Foundation. In 2014, she received the Foundation’s Award for Distinguished Public Service as a result of her work, including the establishment of the Children’s Center at Scandinavia House.


2016 Childhood ThankYou Awardees:

Andrea Bocelli

With a mellow signature voice which echoes in over eighty million record sales, Andrea Bocelli is hailed universally as a testimony to the highest Italian vocal tradition.

In his career, he has performed for four Presidents of the United States, three Popes, the British Royal Family and many Prime Ministers. His recent recordings include the opera Aida, conducted by Zubin Mehta, and the pop album Cinema

In 2011, he founded the Andrea Bocelli Foundation to reinforce his commitment to spreading messages of positivity, hope and perseverance at a global level. The ABF also supports social causes through funding scientific research, promoting universal primary education and fighting against poverty. 

Paul Polman, Unilever

Paul Polman has been Chief Executive Officer since January 2009.  Under his leadership Unilever has set out an ambitious vision to decouple growth from its environmental footprint while increasing its positive social impact.

Paul is Chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, a member of the B-team, the UN SDG Advocacy Group and serves on the Board of the UN Global Compact.

Paul has been closely involved in global discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and action to tackle climate change. In 2016, Paul was asked by the UN Secretary-General to be a member of the SDG Advocacy Group, tasked with promoting action on the 2030 Agenda. Prior to this, Paul served on the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, presenting recommendations on the SDGs on behalf of the private sector. He is also a member of the newly formed Business and Sustainable Development Commission, and served on the International Council of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate under former Mexican President, Felipe Calderon.

Forest Whitaker

Forest Whitaker is the founder and CEO of the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, co-founder and chair of the International Institute for Peace, UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, and a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy Group. In 2014, he started collaborating with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, a topic on which he was invited to speak before the Security Council in September of that year. Whitaker is also one of Hollywood’s most accomplished and versatile figures, having received the 2007 Academy Award for Best Actor.



2015 Childhood ThankYou Awardees:

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Her Majesty Queen Rania is a long-time supporter of children’s rights in Jordan and throughout the world. She founded the Jordan River Foundation, which works to eliminate child abuse and violence against children. In 2014, her foundation reached over 128,000 Jordanians through its Child Safety campaign. As the Honorary Chairperson for the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative, Her Majesty Queen Rania is also an advocate for gender equality and primary education for all children. While on the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel for the Post 2015 Development Agenda, she has championed the development of new global goals to ensure that the well-being of children all around the world is addressed in the new global agenda. While her global vision reaches far and wide, Her Majesty has worked tirelessly to ensure that her home country of Jordan remains a safe harbor for the hundreds of thousands of children fleeing conflicts and wars. 

Mrs. Marilyn Carlson Nelson

Mrs. Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Carlson, has dedicated the last 10 years to fighting human trafficking, for which she has already received numerous accolades, including the 2013 Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking. Mrs. Carlson Nelson has positioned Carlson Hotels and Carlson Wagonlit Travel as the first major North American brand to take a stand against the sexual exploitation of children in the travel industry.

IKEA Foundation

IKEA Foundation has helped more than 178 million children worldwide have a better start in life since 2010, and donated close to $115 million for children's causes in 2014 alone. Its support for UN agencies and dozens of smaller NGOs creates better lives for children living in some of the world's poorest communities, and helps children to survive, learn, and play during disasters and conflicts. Per Heggenes, the foundation's first CEO, is a tireless advocate for children and families, and has helped to transform IKEA Foundation into a global, grant-making organization that funds programs in more than 40 countries.

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