Stories / Awards

Michael Phillips on Funding the Next Generation of Leaders 

JBF Editors

June 10, 2022


The Humanitarian of the Year Award is given to an individual or organization working in the realm of food who has given selflessly and worked tirelessly to better the lives of others and society at large. As part of the Award, the honoree will receive a cash prize of $20,000, thanks to the Michael Phillips Humanitarian Fund. We spoke to Michael Phillips, founder of the fund and president of Jamestown Properties, about the upcoming James Beard Awards.

James Beard Foundation: As president of Jamestown Properties, you established the Michael Phillips Humanitarian Fund on behalf of the James Beard Foundation, which awards an annual cash prize of $20,000 to our Humanitarian of the Year honoree. How did this fund come to be?
Michael Phillips: The roots go back to the Leadership Awards. I was really struck by the efforts of people working in nonprofits, while also recognizing how underfunded they were. I wanted to create a financial fuel source to help people do good work in their communities. This grant was a way to say, ‘we're giving you the Humanitarian of the Year Award because you impacted lives, and this money will help you continue the mission.’ 
JBF: Why was it important to support the Humanitarian of the Year winners, specifically?
MP: Oftentimes, the people doing nonprofit work are spending a disproportionate amount of time raising money. This is a way to help fund their projects and impact work.
JBF: How can food be used as a conduit for greater change?
MP: Food means so much to all of us at a core level—it's home, it's care, it connects businesses, its community. Food can be harnessed in a way that brings about positive social change.
JBF: What does Good Food for Good mean to you? 
MP: I think good food is lovingly and intentionally prepared. The “for good” portion means providing a living wage, sustainability, supporting small businesses, and equity and agency for a wide group of people. I think all food should be for good. 
JBF: What are you most excited to experience at the 2022 James Beard Awards?
MP: People coming together in person and healing after what has been a stressful few years. I think awards and celebrations, meetings and conferences, and all the things that we go to, are meant to build community with one another. It's really about celebrating the diverse richness of the culinary community and having people commune with each other. 

Learn more about the 2022 James Beard Awards presented by Capital One.
Learn more about 2022 Humanitarian of the Year Award honoree, Grace Young

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