Shepherd Center Co-Founder Receives Public Service and Advocacy Award from Andrew J. Young Foundation
Shepherd Center co-founder Alana Shepherd received the Andrew Young International Leadership Award for Public Service and Advocacy in a ceremony in Atlanta on May 17.
The award honors Mrs. Shepherd’s “decades of effective action on behalf of people with spinal cord injuries, people with disabilities and the Atlanta community as a whole.”
“We recognize Alana Shepherd as one who has led extraordinary efforts to prepare and support emergent leaders for effective service and public policy advocacy,” said Andrew J. Young Foundation co-chair Carolyn McClain Young, wife of former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, who has also served as a U.S. Congressman and Atlanta mayor.
The Leadership Awards honor exemplary individuals whose generous actions, philanthropy and servant leadership have had an extraordinary impact on changing the lives of others and the world. Past honorees include Oprah Winfrey, Hank and Billye Aaron, and President Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson (posthumously).
“I am so honored to receive this special award from the Andrew J. Young Foundation,” Mrs. Shepherd said. “It has been such a privilege to be able to co-found Shepherd Center and help people find life beyond their injury or disease.”
Introducing Mrs. Shepherd at the awards ceremony was former Shepherd Center patient April McConnell, who sustained a spinal cord injury in 2014. Ms. McConnell credited Shepherd Center with helping her return to her family and work.
Mrs. Shepherd – along with her son James and husband Harold – co-founded Shepherd Center in Atlanta in 1975 to treat spinal cord injury. Through the years, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed rehabilitation hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury and other neurological conditions.
Through the years, Mrs. Shepherd has been Shepherd Center’s chief fundraiser and prime mover-volunteer, a woman known for her upbeat honesty, business savvy and relentless drive. She continues to serve as secretary of the board of directors at Shepherd Center.
The Shepherds founded Shepherd Center after James sustained a paralyzing spinal cord injury in 1973. Frustrated by the lack of state-of-the-art rehabilitation care in the southeastern United States, the family galvanized support among the Atlanta community to open a specialty facility. Alana also recognized early on that she had to help change the community to which patients would return so these individuals would be accepted and could, once again, assume their place in society.
Her advocacy for accessibility resulted in the addition of lifts to Atlanta’s MARTA bus system and in making Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport one of the country’s most accessible airports.
Alana championed the fight, despite opposition, to bring the International Paralympic Games to Atlanta in 1996. She changed Olympic/Paralympic history when her efforts led the International Olympic Committee to decree that all cities seeking to be the site of future Olympic Games must include plans and proposed financing for the Paralympics, as well access to the same sites and facilities.
For more information on Shepherd Center, visit shepherd.org.
Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.