Jane Alexander

Lifetime Achievement Award
1999

Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress Jane Alexander accepted a daring role in 1993 when President Bill Clinton appointed her Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. During her four years - one of the most challenging political climates in the agency's history - Alexander demonstrated an unwavering and passionate commitment to the survival and strengthening of the Endowment. In addition to securing the NEA's future existence, her accomplishments include the implementation of bold changes to the agency's structure and grantmaking, the creation of a number of unprecedented nationwide initiatives, focusing attention on the crucial connection between the arts and communities, expansion of the NEA's role in public-private partnerships, and a 50-state tour to witness firsthand the breadth and diversity of our nation's cultural life. Alexander created Millennium Projects, Leadership Initiatives, Open-Studio Technology Grants, and other new initiatives. In 1996 she launched American Canvas, a regional meeting series focused on identifying the role of the arts in strengthening American communities and preserving cultural legacies. Alexander expanded the Arts Endowment's traditional constituency to include civic and business leaders, school boards and teachers, and a range of juvenile justice workers and police officers. She initiated partnerships with multiple federal agencies to help bring the arts into every corner of American public policy. Under Alexander's groundbreaking leadership, arts education expanded to better reflect changing trends and demographics across America. The first NEA Chairman to visit all 50 states in just one year, Alexander traveled from South Dakota to South Carolina and from New Mexico to New Hampshire. She met with civic leaders throughout the country to learn what a Federal agency could do on a local level to help meet the unique needs of diverse communities. Perhaps Alexander's tenure will be best remembered for the compassion she brought to her chairmanship. Jettisoning process to react quickly to national disasters, she showed the country how the arts can help rebuild communities in the aftermaths of the Oklahoma City bombing and other crises in the nation. Her commitment to community and culture make Jane Alexander an extraordinary leader, moving seamlessly between the diverse worlds of Capitol Hill and Broadway. Her appearance in the upcoming film, "The Cider House Rules," an adaptation of John Irving's best-selling novel, follows a busy year on Broadway with her Tony-nominated performance in "Honour"and an acting career gilded by numerous Academy, Tony, Obie and Emmy nominations and awards. She is married to director Ed Sherin. Her son Jace is a stage and film director as well.