By Diane von Furstenberg
When I created The DVF Awards in 2010, I set out to recognize women who have had the courage to fight, the power to survive and the leadership to inspire. As a tribute to my own mother’s struggle as a Holocaust survivor, I wanted to shine a light on the strength inherent in all women. But even as I wrote those words, even as I envisioned that ideal, never could I have imagined that a woman would come along who so purely and gracefully embodies those three principles.
The courage to fight. The power to survive. The leadership to inspire.
She has given them more power.
And so it is my pleasure to announce that Robin is this year’s recipient of The Lifetime Leadership Award.
I have often said that too many women do not know their own strength. That it takes a tragedy to bring it out. But Robin Roberts is not one of those women.
Robin has always been strong. She was strong in the classroom and on the basketball court as a Lady Lion at Southeastern Louisiana University. She was strong as she climbed the ranks of ESPN as a sports reporter and, again, in 2005, when she was named co-anchor of “Good Morning America.” She was strong in the face of a breast cancer diagnosis in 2007. And she came to know the true depths of her own strength in 2012 when she was diagnosed with a rare blood disease known as MDS, or myelodysplastic syndrome.
But rather than retreat into her struggle, Robin had the courage to fight, the power to survive and the leadership to inspire.
She faced this obstacle head on and even brought cameras along, so that America could share in her story. And then she moved us all – with her humor, her smile, her faith and her fearlessness.
Just as my mother taught me that fear is not an option, Robin Robert’s mother taught her, “Make your mess your message.” These words gave her the courage to share her story and her struggle. Strong women beget strong women.
That is why it is so important to honor other women, to encourage, to simply stand in awe.
And so it is my distinct privilege, through The DVF Awards, to honor Robin and four other remarkable women who are improving the lives of women in their communities and beyond: Natalia Vodianova of the Naked Heart Foundation, Andeisha Farid of the Afghan Child Education and Caring Organization (AFCECO), Sunitha Krishnan of Prajwala and one of our four People’s Voice Award nominees: Talia Leman of RandomKid, Tammy Tibbetts of She’s the First, Col. Kim Olson of Grace After Fire and Tina Frundt of Courtney’s House.
Thank you, to Robin and to all of our honorees, for allowing me to shine a light through you, and for having the courage to fight, the power to survive, and the leadership to inspire.