2021 Lincoln Leadership Prize Recipient
Gary Sinise, Founder, President, Gary Sinise Foundation
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation is please to announce Gary Sinise as the 2021 Lincoln Leadership Prize recipient.
Mr. Sinise was recognized for his commitment to helping and supporting veterans, active-duty military, first responders, their families and those in need. The Prize was awarded on April 13, 2021 in a virtual ceremony.
Sinise, an Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award-winning actor, and Founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation, has been singularly devoted to veterans and military families and considers it his life’s work. While it may seem his connection to the troops is due to his iconic role as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump, Sinise’s connection to and appreciation of the military precedes his iconic, Oscar-nominated portrayal. His autobiography, The New York Times Best Seller Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service, chronicles his journey from rebellious teenager to discovering his love of acting and his close to forty years of helping and supporting those who serve.
In 2020, Gary Sinise and his Foundation entered into its 10th year, establishing itself as one of today’s leading nonprofit organizations raising awareness and supporting those who serve. The Foundation’s programs and initiatives tackle a variety of needs, including building mortgage free specially adapted smart homes for severely wounded veterans through its R.I.S.E (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) program, traveling WWII veterans to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans through Soaring Valor, performing and lifting the spirits of those serving our country through his Lt Dan Band concerts, traveling the kids of our fallen military heroes to Disney World for 5 days of fun, hope, and healing though Snowball Express, and more. When the pandemic hit early in 2020, the Foundation quickly established its Emergency COVID 19 Combat Service initiative, which expanded its outreach to include healthcare workers on the frontline. Also, in 2020, the Foundation launched its Florida chapter – the first of many future satellite locations and began expanding its Mental Health initiative helping those suffering with PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and addiction/recovery.
“I am deeply grateful to be honored among the distinguished individuals who have received the Lincoln Leadership Prize,” said Sinise. “I support the important work that the Foundation, Library, and Museum are doing, and am pleased to play a small role in helping to raise awareness of their shared mission.”
“President Lincoln cared deeply about the troops, and there are few people today who care more – and do more – for our men and women in uniform and their families than Gary Sinise,” said Sergio (“Satch”) Pecori, chairman of the ALPLF Board of Directors. “While we, of course, can’t speak for President Lincoln, we believe he would be most supportive of this choice.”
“The lessons and leadership example of President Lincoln have never been more important to our country, and our responsibility is to do all we can to ensure those lessons are understood and shared,” said Erin Carlson Mast, the ALPLF’s new President and CEO. “This year, for the first time, we are holding our signature fundraising event virtually. I hope all who recognize President Lincoln’s and appreciate Mr. Sinise’s contributions to our country will join us.”
The Lincoln Leadership Prize ceremony serves as the primary fundraiser for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.
Mark Wahlberg, presenter
Mark Wahlberg earned both Academy Award® and Golden Globe® nominations for his standout work in the family boxing film “The Fighter” and Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed drama “The Departed.” Wahlberg has played diverse characters for visionary filmmakers such as David O. Russell, Tim Burton and Paul Thomas Anderson. His breakout role in “Boogie Nights” established Wahlberg as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents.
Wahlberg’s remarkable film career began with “Renaissance Man,” directed by Penny Marshall, and “The Basketball Diaries,” with Leonardo DiCaprio, followed by a star turn opposite Reese Witherspoon in the thriller “Fear.” He later headlined “Three Kings” and “The Perfect Storm,” with George Clooney, and “The Italian Job” with Charlize Theron. Wahlberg then starred in the football biopic “Invincible" and “Shooter,” based on Stephen Hunter’s best-selling novel, Point of Impact. Wahlberg reunited with “The Yards” director James Gray and co-star Joaquin Phoenix for “We Own the Night,” which he also produced. In 2013, he teamed with director Peter Berg on military drama “Lone Survivor” and “2 Guns” with Denzel Washington. The following year, he starred in Ted 2” with Seth MacFarlane and “Daddy’s Home” opposite Will Ferrell. Wahlberg’s additional credits include “The Gambler,” “The Lovely Bones,” “The Other Guys,” “Pain & Gain,” “Contraband,” “Ted” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” Recently, he starred in “Deepwater Horizon," “Patriots Day,” "Transformers: The Last Night," "Daddy's Home 2," "All the Money in the World,” “Mile 22,” Instant Family,” “Spenser Confidential” and the animated film “Scoob.” Upcoming is the sci-fi action film “Infinite” for director Antoine Fuqua.
An accomplished film and television producer, Wahlberg has produced “Spenser Confidential,” “Instant Family,” “Mile 22,” "Daddy's Home 2," “Patriots Day,” “Deepwater Horizon,” “Entourage,” “The Gambler,” “Lone Survivor,” “Broken City,” “Contraband,” “The Fighter” (for which Wahlberg was nominated for an Oscar® for Best Picture) and “We Own the Night.” For television, Wahlberg was executive producer Emmy-nominated “Wahlburgers” on A&E, docuseries “McMillion$” and hit comedy "Ballers" on HBO. He executive produced HBO’s “Entourage” through its impressive eight-season run as well as “Boardwalk Empire,” “How to Make It in America” and “In Treatment.” He executive produced three seasons of “Shooter” for USA Network. For his work in television, Wahlberg has received a BAFTA, a Peabody, seven Emmy nominations, six Golden Globe® nominations and a Golden Globe® Award for “Boardwalk Empire” in 2011.
A committed philanthropist, Wahlberg founded The Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation in 2001 to benefit inner-city children and teens.