2022 Awardee Profiles

American Horizon Award Recipient

Ken Burns
Documentary Filmmaker
Florentine Films

Ken Burns has been making documentary films for more than 40 years.  Since the Academy Award nominated “Brooklyn Bridge” in 1981, Mr. Burns has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made.

A 2002 poll conducted by Real Screen Magazine listed “The Civil War” as second only to Robert Flaherty’s “Nanook of the North” as the “most influential documentary of all time,” and named Ken Burns and Robert Flaherty as the “most influential documentary makers” of all time.

The late historian Stephen Ambrose said of his films, “More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.”

In addition to “The Civil War” (1990), his highly acclaimed works include “Baseball” (1994), “Jazz” (2001), “The War” (2007), “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” (2009), “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” (2014), “The Vietnam War” (2017), and “Country Music” (2019).  His most recent film, “The U.S. and the Holocaust,” debuted on PBS in September 2022.

Mr. Burns’s films have won 16 Emmy Awards and two Oscar nominations.  In 2008, he was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mr. Burns has received more than 30 honorary degrees and has delivered many treasured commencement addresses.  He is a sought-after public speaker, appearing at colleges, civic organizations, and business groups throughout the country.

Future film projects include “The American Buffalo,” “Leonardo da Vinci,” “The American Revolution,” “Emancipation to Exodus,” and “LBJ & the Great Society.”

Freedom of Speech Award Recipient

Lester Holt
Anchor and Managing Editor
“NBC Nightly News”

Lester Holt is an award-winning journalist at NBC News.  He is the anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt,” the network’s flagship broadcast, as well as the anchor of “Dateline NBC.”  Mr. Holt also leads NBC News special reports, breaking news, and primetime political coverage.

Named the “most-trusted television news personality in America” by The Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult poll, Mr. Holt became anchor of “NBC Nightly News” in June 2015.  He had anchored the weekend editions of “NBC Nightly News” for eight years and co-anchored “Weekend TODAY” for 12 years.  Mr. Holt has served as principal anchor of “Dateline NBC” since 2011.

Since 2020, Mr. Holt has led NBC News coverage of the Covid 19 pandemic.  Additionally, he anchored NBC’s primetime coverage of the 2020 presidential election, including the party conventions, debates, and Election Night.

Mr. Holt has spent the past four decades in journalism and has reported and anchored from breaking news events across the globe.  He has delivered first-person accounts from Iran, the Korean Peninsula, South Africa, Egypt, Haiti, Hungary, Cuba, and Afghanistan, among many other locales.

Before becoming co-anchor of “Weekend TODAY” in 2003, Mr. Holt anchored “Lester Holt Live,” a daily news show on MSNBC.  He started at NBC News in 2000, anchoring “Newsfront.”  Mr. Holt came to MSNBC after 14 years at WBBM-TV in Chicago where he served as the afternoon and evening news anchor.

Mr. Holt has been recognized with numerous honors, including multiple Emmy Awards, a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and the prestigious National Press Club Fourth Estate Award.