Bob Woodruff Foundation Hosts 4th Annual ‘Generous Persson’ Awards

Dr. Jill Biden among presenters honoring those who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to supporting veterans, their families and their caregivers. 

The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) held its fourth annual Generous Persson Awards Ceremony, named in memory of philanthropist Helen K. Persson, at Carnegie Hall, Oct. 18.

Honorees for 2018 were Craig Newmark, visionary founder of Craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies; and Capt. Larkin O’Hern, USA, Ret., and Rachel O’Hern, advocates for the veteran and caregiving community. They were all chosen for their extraordinary commitment to the nation’s wounded veterans and their families.

Presenters at the ceremony included Dougherty; Bob and Lee Woodruff, co-founders of the Bob Woodruff Foundation; along with former second lady of the United States and honorary co-chair of the Biden Foundation, Dr. Jill Biden.

Speaking to those attending, Dr. Biden said, “That is my challenge to you today—be like Larkin, Rachel, and Craig: Go to your strengths—big and small—and figure out how you can put them to work for those who serve our nation—in a uniform or not.”

Since founding Craigslist, Craig Newmark has dedicated himself to providing meaningful support to organizations that change the world through truth in journalism, advancing women in tech, and supporting our nation’s veterans and military families. A long-time supporter of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, Craig has provided transformational support that has had a long-lasting impact on the foundation’s mission, operations, and community.

Capt. Larkin O’Hern was critically wounded while serving in Afghanistan in 2010, suffering the loss of both legs and a hand. Throughout his rehabilitation, Rachel was beside him as his wife, caregiver, rehab partner and best friend. Following a remarkable two-and-a-half-year recovery, Larkin was approved to continue on active duty for an additional four years. During this time, Rachel built an impressive career of her own and became a fierce advocate for the caregivers of wounded veterans.

The O’Herns have since retired to Texas, where their service continues in new ways. Rachel continues to work on behalf of the caregiver community, while Larkin is now a Product Management Analyst Lead at USAA and an active member of the Bob Woodruff Foundation Leadership Council.

The Generous Persson Award honors the legacy of Helen K. Persson, a lieutenant commander in the Navy Nurse Corps during World War II, who fully understood the wounds of war. She realized the importance of ensuring best-in-class resources remain available for our veterans long after they return home. It was Persson’s initial gift of $1 million that allowed the Bob Woodruff Foundation to grow into a nationally recognized leader among veteran-focused organizations.

“It is Helen’s quiet generosity that inspired this award, and few embody that trait more than this year’s honorees. Craig has demonstrated tremendous commitment, leadership and support in his work with our veterans and their caregivers, while Rachel and Larkin have taken their story of life after injury and made it a force for good that continues to inspire and benefit others.” said Anne Marie Dougherty, executive director of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. “Though they don’t seek out the spotlight, Craig, Larkin and Rachel recognize that they are uniquely positioned to make a difference for the causes they are passionate about. We are so grateful they believe in our mission.”

Beyond recognizing the impact of the honorees, the awards also showcased the important work of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. Since its start in 2006, the Bob Woodruff Foundation has invested more than $55 million to find, fund and shape programs that create long-lasting, positive outcomes for veterans and their families nationwide.