National Portrait Gallery Announces Portrait of a Nation Honorees

Awards Recognizing Honorees’ Work Championing Transformational Impact and Change Will Be Presented at Portrait of a Nation Gala Nov. 12
January 26, 2022
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Four awards perched on display stands

“Portrait of a Nation Award” presented by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Photo by Zach Hilty /

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has announced the 2022 Portrait of a Nation honorees. Established in 2015, the Portrait of a Nation Award recognizes extraordinary individuals who have made transformative contributions to the United States and its people across numerous fields of endeavor, ranging from the arts and sciences to sports and humanitarianism. This year’s honorees are José Andrés, Clive Davis, Ava DuVernay, Marian Wright Edelman, Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Serena Williams and Venus Williams. The awards will be presented at the Portrait of a Nation Gala Saturday, Nov. 12. Following tradition, each honoree’s portrait will be displayed as part of the museum’s “Recent Acquisitions” exhibition from Nov. 10 through Oct. 22, 2023. Several of the portraits will be on view for the first time, including new commissions by some of the most talented contemporary artists.

The 2022 recipients of the Portrait of a Nation Award are:

  • José Andrés, internationally recognized humanitarian, culinary innovator, New York Times bestselling author, educator and founder of World Central Kitchen
  • Clive Davis, Grammy Award-winning music industry executive and member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
  • Ava DuVernay, Academy Award nominee, Emmy, BAFTA and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and founder of ARRAY
  • Marian Wright Edelman, activist for children’s rights and founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund
  • Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health and chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Immunoregulation, chief medical advisor to the President and advisor on global AIDS issues and COVID-19
  • Serena Williams, tennis champion, winner of 23 Grand Slam titles and entrepreneur
  • Venus Williams, tennis champion, winner of seven Grand Slam titles, entrepreneur, and outspoken advocate on equal pay, mental health and physical wellness

“The Portrait of a Nation Award is an expression of gratitude for the leaders in our country who have made a difference and continue to advocate for a better future,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “These honorees are innovators in their respective disciplines and advocates for social causes who use their voices to care for and lift up others. The Portrait of a Nation Award reminds us that history is living and the choices people make have an impact on the nation’s legacy. We invite everyone to partake in recognizing these extraordinary individuals when their portraits go on view as part of the museum’s ‘Recent Acquisitions’ exhibition in November.”

After a one-year delay due to the global pandemic, the biennial Portrait of a Nation Gala (previously the American Portrait Gala) will welcome distinguished guests for a black-tie event at the museum in Washington, D.C. Guests will enjoy cocktails and a private viewing of the Portrait Gallery’s “Recent Acquisitions” exhibition featuring the honorees’ portraits, followed by a seated dinner, award presentations and a special performance. Each honoree will be presented with their award by a person of their choice. Past recipients of the Portrait of a Nation Award include Henry “Hank” Aaron, Cpl. Kyle Carpenter, Aretha Franklin, Carolina Herrera and Maya Lin in 2015; Madeleine K. Albright, David D. Ho, M.D., Bill T. Jones, Spike Lee and Rita Moreno in 2017; and Frances Arnold, Jeffrey P. Bezos, Earth, Wind & Fire, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Indra Nooyi and Anna Wintour in 2019. Portraits of all past honorees are included in the museum’s collection.

National chairs of the 2022 Portrait of a Nation Gala are Eduardo J. Ardiles and Joseph P. Ujobai, Lyndon J. Barrois and Janine Sherman Barrois, and Catherine and Michael Podell. Washington, D.C., chairs are Kristin and John Cecchi and Susanna and Jack Quinn. Founding chairs are Wayne and Catherine Reynolds. Host Committee members include Eduardo J. Ardiles and Joseph P. Ujobai, Robert and Arlene Kogod, Catherine and Michael Podell, and David M. Rubenstein.

The Portrait of a Nation Gala supports the nation’s premier collection of visual biographies. Proceeds support the Portrait Gallery’s endowment for exhibitions, collections, commissions and education programs. For more information, visit

National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the nation’s story.

The National Portrait Gallery is located at Eighth and G streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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