Founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, Edelman has developed the fund since its founding in 1973 into one of the strongest advocacy organizations for disadvantaged Americans. Its mission is to ensure every child has a chance to have a healthy and safe start to life through education, nutrition and other initiatives. Edelman has received hundreds of awards and honors, including a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award. She has written several books, including “Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change,” “The Measure of our Success: A Letter to my Children and Yours,” and “Hold my Hand: Prayers for Building a Movement to Leave No Child Behind.” She is a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School. She began her law career in the mid-1960s and was the first African-American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar. She directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi. She moved to Washington, D.C., in 1968 to work for the Poor People’s Campaign, which Martin Luther King Jr. began organizing before his death. Edelman is a member of the Robin Hood Foundation, the Association to Benefit Children, the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institution of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.