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Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to honor Joanne Rogers with its 2016 Great Friend of Children Award


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Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to honor Joanne Rogers with its 2016 Great Friend of Children Award

PITTSBURGH (February 3, 2016)  Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh will honor Joanne Rogers, wife of the late Fred Rogers, at its Grr-ific Great Night Gala on Friday, June 10, 2016 for her remarkable work preserving her husband's legacy of caring for children. The Museum presents this award to leaders in the community who work to improve the lives of children and families.

Joanne’s work on behalf of children spans more than fifty years and includes a tradition of advocacy and leadership that has supported families at their most joyous and vulnerable moments. In accepting the Museum’s Great Friend of Children Award, Joanne joins a group of leading child advocates, including most recently The Heinz Endowments, the PNC Foundation, Jim Henson, Eric Carle, Highmark and her own husband, Fred Rogers, who received the award in 1994.  “We admire Joanne Rogers for her dedication and love for all children.  We are thrilled she is receiving this wonderful award honoring her incredible and important work,” said Gregg and Yu-Ling Behr, Chairs of the 2016 Grr-ific Great Night Gala

An accomplished pianist, Joanne Byrd Rogers began her musical training at age five and received her Bachelor of Music degree from Rollins College (where she met Fred) and went on to earn her Master of Music degree from Florida State University.

Since 1952, when Joanne wed Fred Rogers, she was fully invested in the vision and work of her husband— the work of nurturing children and families. Though unlike Fred, her ongoing efforts in that partnership rarely brought Joanne in front of the camera. Instead, her role in their work was foundational--grounded in the life the two of them lived out each day in the home and family they built together.

 “We had two boys, and I really didn't do any piano playing when they were little… I needed to be a mother to my young children. I didn’t do any teaching or playing at that time, but as soon as they got a little older I took it up again. I think it's important that children growing up should see that their parents have other interests…”

So in 1976, Mrs. Rogers returned to her piano concerts with her Rollins classmate, Jeannine Morrison. She continued to perform publicly until 2008.

When reflecting on her life with Fred Rogers in the Forward to the book Life’s Journeys According to Mister Rogers,  Joanne wrote, “ I couldn’t help getting caught up in Fred’s world. For the last twenty-five years of his life, everywhere we went, people would come up to him to say hello. He loved hearing their stories. One of the worst jobs was moving him along in a crowd! Everyone wanted to talk to him. And he loved their stories. He would just keep asking questions so he could get to know more about them. He had a heart that had room for everyone, and he was fascinated by other people’s journeys.”

Since Fred Roger’s passing in 2003, Joanne has generously opened her heart, faithfully carrying on his legacy on behalf of children and families in upholding their journeys and “good feeling to know they're alive". .

Over the years, she has served on the boards of Pittsburgh Youth Symphony and the Board of Trustees of Rollins College. Joanne currently serves as Chair Emeritus of the Board of Directors of The Fred Rogers Company, the non-profit organization Fred Rogers founded in 1971.  She is also Honorary Chair of the Advisory Council for The Fred M. Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media, which is located on the campus of St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Fred Rogers’ hometown. Through these two organizations, she is actively invested in carrying on Fred’s legacy -- working with families and children.

At the Grr…ific Great Night Gala Joanne will help the Museum unveil its newest hands-on exhibit: “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – A Grr…ific Exhibit” created by Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh in partnership with The Fred Rogers Company. In this interactive exhibit based on the Emmy Award winning PBS television program, “Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood,” children and families will step into Daniel Tiger’s world and join him and his friends to explore his Neighborhood. Through immersive experiences, children will work together to solve problems, use their imaginations to transform their surroundings, and play along with Daniel’s sing-able strategies to better understand everyday emotions. By bringing the world and characters of this award-winning animated series to life in an interactive exhibit, the important messages of Fred and Joanne Rogers will continue to be expressed to children and families in fun, imaginative ways.

A celebration of joy, creativity and curiosity, the Grr-ific Great Night Gala is the Children’s Museum’s signature 2016 fundraising event, and expects over 400 supporters to raise $400,000 to catalyze the Museum’s vital work to bring innovative experiences to all children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

For information about Grr-ific Great Night Gala corporate sponsorship opportunities, tickets and event information contact Julie Segner, at 412-322-5058 ext. 217