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Past Speakers

Viola Davis
Award winning actress
It is an honor to be in your presence. I feel like we share the same heart and spirit for how we approach our lives.
Lindsey Vonn
Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion
Every obstacle I’ve faced has led me down a path to be a better person, to be a stronger person…You guys not only have overcome so many obstacles in your lives, but helped others to overcome theirs. And I think that the common denominator is empathy. You guys have such big hearts, and when you understand pain, you’re able to help others overcome their pain. The best thing in life that we can do is give back. And I’m really thankful that I’m able to be here to meet you guys…you guys are really the people that are going to change the world.
Michael Phelps
Olympic Gold Medalist
Congratulations to all the honorees for the tremendous caring and commitment you’ve demonstrated in serving your communities and helping make the world a better place. Thank you for all that you do to keep up with the great work, as you truly are making a difference.
Hilary Swank
Academy Award-winning Actress
This generation is more socially and culturally aware than any generation before you.  And all of you can be the catalyst to create real change by simply recognizing a need, acting with compassion, to leave the world a better place by your diligent work and your shear presence.
Robin Roberts
Good Morning America Co-Anchor
All I would say to you is to remain patient and persistent…You’re at that age where you’ve got the bullies and you’ve got all that stuff happening. Internalize it. Make it a positive…when you are at your lowest point, think of that. Let that be your energy to go: You know what? I’m going to push through this, I’m going to do that. I always remember this: when fear knocks, let faith answer the door.
Forest Whitaker
Academy Award-Winning Actor
You will be the leaders and innovators of tomorrow, you will scale to such heights that my generation, my generation, we can’t even fathom what you’re going to do.
Eli Manning
New York Giants Quarterback and Super Bowl MVP
If elite means best in the class, this year’s winners of the Prudential Spirit of Community Award clearly fit the definition. And you have my personal applause for sticking your necks out to make a difference in your community, your state and in your nation.
Susan Sarandon
Academy Award-Winning Actress
And you are those good guys. You will want what is just for all and you will recognize yourself in the hungry and the poor and the enslaved. You will do that because you have empathy and imagination, humor, creativity and passion.
Condoleezza Rice
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza
I am here to congratulate a very special group of young people: the winners of these wonderful Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The United States of America is by far the most compassionate country on the face of the earth, because of its people. Philanthropy is deep in our souls and our hearts, and so you follow in a proud tradition of people who've cared to do something for those a little less fortunate... I know you have worked hard to achieve what you have done. You're going to do even greater things in the future. And as you do greater things, you will help to build a foundation for our country and for our world to overcome the many challenges that we have.
Laura Bush
Former First Lady
Each of you has already realized a priceless truth that some adults never fully understand: a life of service is a life of significance...Before this weekend, you might have felt isolated in your service-one young person tackling big challenges that even grownups haven't solved. By the end of your time in Washington, I hope you'll see what I see by looking at you tonight: a growing light of hope spreading across the United States and around the globe. You inspire me by your commitment and you encourage me by your example. My challenge to you tonight is to serve and to continue serving for the rest of your life. Whether serving in your hometown or on the other side of the world, use your talents and energy to make a better world. Wherever life leads you, pursue the path of service and you'll find fulfillment beyond measure.
Jason Ritter
When your eyes are opened to a problem, there are some people, thank God, who just can't shut their eyes again. And that's all of you in this room. You took a stand, and you did something.... The beautiful thing about each and every one of you is that it's not enough for you to be happy and isolated. The problems of the world around you speak to you, and you feel compelled to help. You know that others' problems are also your problems, and that we are all in this together. You are all perfect examples of the golden rule. If everyone treated everyone else as you have treated the people around you...what a great world this would be.
Arne Duncan
U.S. Secretary of Education
You guys understand our country's strengths, you understand our weaknesses, you understand the challenges we face, and you understand that none of us can be happy, none of us can be satisfied, until everyone has an opportunity to be successful. And we have to right society's wrongs, so we have to challenge the status quo, when people are hurting, and what you guys are doing collectively, that collective will, that collective power, is absolutely extraordinary. So I thank you for your tremendous hard work, I thank you for the example you're setting for all of us, and I thank you for having this absolute commitment to service.
Sarah Ferguson
The Duchess of York
I haven't got the words to describe what it means to me to be standing up in front of young people that are prepared to give up so much to help so many. You're just totally an inspiration. We should do more and more to inspire more young people all over the world to do what you're doing. I take my hat off to you. I thank you for giving so much to me today. I wish my children could be here to see you all. You're an amazing group of people.
Margaret Spellings
U.S. Secretary of Education
We are here to celebrate you students. All of you are terrific role models for young people all over this country and indeed for all of us…You all are obviously not waiting for the world to change. You are changing it each and every day in your own communities and in your own ways, and we all owe you a tremendous debt. Thank you for making such a positive difference in the lives of those around you…Your generation is really redefining how people think about volunteer service.
Beverley Mitchell
Actress and Recording Artist
I've often heard our generation called the ‘me' generation. Don't think they quite had that right, because obviously they never met you guys. You have all proved that the future is in great hands. We are a generation that cares, and we are a generation that is making a difference. We are creative. We are innovative. We are heartfelt. The power of one is amazing, but the power of our entire generation can move mountains.