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2004 Elsie Awards
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Gala will be held at The Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh on April 1

PITTSBURGH, PA – WQED Multimedia and Elsie Hillman announce that the 2004 Elsie Awards will be held on Thursday, April 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.

The Elsie Awards are presented by WQED Multimedia and community leader and philanthropist Elsie Hillman to honor people whose life's work has demonstrated love of community, compassion for others and using communication to have a positive impact on society. Elsie is a WQED past chairperson, Trustee Emeritus and long-time supporter, along with her husband Henry.

Originating in 1996, the initial Elsie Award honored Elsie Hillman for her long-time commitment to WQED and this community. Since then, the awards have continued to honor and recognize the heroes of our society. Proceeds from the event benefit children’s programming on WQED tv13.
“ I’m truly honored and delighted that these people who have made such enormous contributions to our community, our region and our country will be receiving these awards,” said Hillman. “It’s going to be a terrific party!”
“ It’s wonderful that these awards are kicking off WQED’s 50th anniversary because Elsie is such an important part of the WQED family,” said George L. Miles, Jr., president and CEO of WQED Multimedia. “Her tremendous support over the years has helped sustain this organization and shape it’s future.”

The 2004 Elsie Awards Recipients:

Joan Ganz Cooney is the founder and chair of the Children’s Television Workshop (CTW), which has given the world Sesame Street, The Electric Company, 3-2-1 Contact and Ghostwriter as well as many other series. Cooney and her organization have had a profound affect on small screen programming aimed at children.

Drue Heinz is the philanthropist whose many gifts to the community include the Heinz Architectural Center and Drue Heinz Lecture series.

Rob Marshall grew up in Pittsburgh, is a Carnegie Mellon University alumnus and the director of the Oscar-winning film “Chicago.” He is renowned for his brilliant choreography for stage, screen and television.

Joe Negri is Pittsburgh’s own beloved jazz guitarist and distinguished composer. A musical prodigy at age four, Negri was touring nationally by age sixteen. He served as music director at WTAE TV for more than 20 years and appeared as Handyman Negri for thirty plus years on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

Tom Ridge is the current Secretary of the Office of Homeland Security and former Governor of Pennsylvania. As Homeland Security Secretary, Ridge develops and coordinates a comprehensive national strategy to strengthen protections against terrorist threats or attacks in the United States.

John Wideman is a renowned writer and former Homewood resident. Wideman is the only writer to have been awarded the PEN/Faulkner Awards for Fiction twice and the second African American to win a Rhodes scholarship.

April 1 also marks the start of WQED Multimedia’s 50th anniversary year. WQED was the first community supported public television station in the country. The Elsie Awards kick off a yearlong celebration of WQED’s 50 years of service to the community.
Guests for the evening will be treated to fabulous food, fun and music beginning at 6:30p.m. The awards will be handed out at 8:30 p.m. in the Carnegie Music Hall, followed by drinks, desserts and coffee. Tickets are $250 per person.

PNC Financial Services is the major sponsor for the awards. A variety of sponsorship levels and opportunities are available. For more information, contact Rick Vaccarelli, executive director of sales and underwriting for WQED Multimedia at 412-622-6421.
For general information concerning the event, including ticket reservations, contact Lilli Mosco, vice president of development and membership for WQED Multimedia at 412-622-1371 or
Media should contact Gigi Saladna, WQED Multimedia promotion manager at 412-622-1377 or
WQED Multimedia, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2004, provides educational, cultural and informational products and services that enhance and engage the community. It is the parent company of WQED tv13, WQED fm89.3, WQEJ fm89.7/Johnstown, a publishing division that includes PITTSBURGH magazine, local and national television and radio productions, and the WQED Education Resource Center.

Past Elsie Award Recipients:

1996: Jim and Susie Broadhurst
Johnny Costa
Tom and Marilyn Donnelly

1998: Bill and Patti Burns
Dan and Pat Rooney
Frieda Shapira

2000: Victor Borge
Michael Keaton
Rachel Walton Mellon

2002: Barbara Bush
Fred Rogers

Background Information

Originating in 1996, the initial Elsie Award honored Elsie Hillman for her long-time commitment to WQED Multimedia and this community. The other Elsie Awards were presented to Pittsburgh area leaders in three categories: community, compassion and communications. Awards were given to: Tom and Marilyn Donnelly for love of family; Jim and Suzy Broadhurst for love of community; and Johnny Costa for love of public broadcasting. Both the Donnellys and the Broadhursts are active volunteers for many non-profit institutions as well as generous philanthropists to even more worthy concerns both locally and nationally. Johnny Costa had been the musical director for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for 3 decades beginning in 1967 and helped Fred Rogers to realize his vision of utilizing music as an important teaching tool.

Subsequent Elsie Awards honor people in our community who have made a difference in the Elsie style of family, community...and having fun!

The 1998 Elsie Awards were presented to Dan and Pat Rooney, owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and their family for their sense of community, Frieda Shapira, long-time volunteer in countless causes and charities and her family for years of compassionate service and to Bill Burns, Pittsburgh broadcasting pioneer and his daughter Patti for excellence in communications.

In 2000, the Elsie Awards were presented to Michael Keaton, a native Pittsburgher who began his illustrious career as a member of the crew at WQED Multimedia; Mrs. Rachel Mellon Walton, the 101-year-old matriarch of the Mellon family, who has spent her life caring for her family and her beloved Pittsburgh; and Sir Victor Borge, the “Great Dane” who has delighted audiences all over the world with his amusing routines at the piano.

The 2002 Elsie Awards were presented to Former First Lady Barbara Bush and WQED’s own Fred Rogers for their tireless efforts on behalf of children and for improving the quality of life for us all.

The 2004 Elsie Awards will honor Joan Ganz Cooney, Drue Heinz, Rob Marshall, Joe Negri, Tom Ridge, and John Wideman.

The proceeds from the Elsie Awards benefit children’s programming on WQED Multimedia.

A number of corporations and individuals sponsor the evening in several levels of giving.

The mission of WQED Multimedia is to provide educational, cultural and informational products and services that enhance and engage the community.

The goal of the event is to honor those persons who best reflect the quality of compassion as they support their community and public television.

For additional information, please e-mail:


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