Contact: Lauren Dyke
Robert L. Wright, Jr. Named 2009 Horatio Alger Award Winner
Chairman of FE Holdings, Inc. to be Inducted in April in Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON, February 2, 2009 – The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans is pleased to announce that Robert L. Wright, Jr. will be presented with the 2009 Horatio Alger Award and inducted as a lifetime member of the association for his determination in achieving success despite his humble upbringing.
Wright, chairman of FE Holdings, Inc. in Virginia, will be officially inducted into the prestigious association on April 3rd in Washington, D.C. Recipients must have overcome humble beginnings or adversity to achieve success and serve as outstanding role models to the national community.
“We welcome these extraordinary leaders into the Horatio Alger Association. Each has demonstrated steadfast determination and amazing achievements that support our unwavering mission of honoring true American success stories,” said David L. Sokol, president and CEO of the Horatio Alger Association. “Robert will serve as a role model for today’s youth by encouraging motivation, purpose and superior accomplishments.”
Wright was born in Columbus, Georgia in 1937. Growing up during the Depression in the segregated South made it difficult for Wright, as a young African-American, to dream of being successful. Even when the Ku Klux Klan burned crosses in his neighborhood, Wright’s parents encouraged him to believe that through education he could create a better life.
Wright went on to attend Ohio State University in 1955 and became a doctor of optometry upon graduation. A victim of racial discrimination while looking for jobs in the South, Wright felt his only option was to practice in the North. His supportive parents mortgaged their home to help him open a practice in Ohio. One year later, Wright returned to Georgia to get involved in the rising Civil Rights Movement and make a difference in his hometown.
In 1970, Wright was elected to the Columbus, Georgia City Council and established a consulting firm that focused on race relations, research, minority affairs and policy. In 1981, Wright was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to lead the Minority Small Business program at the Small Business Administration. Wright then formed another consulting firm, Bob Wright & Associates, which later became Dimensions International (DI). DI became a leading logistics company in the government and private sector with more than 100 offices in 10 countries. Wright purchased Flight Explorer (FE) from DI and served as chairman. FE is a global aircraft tracking, information technology, and communications solutions provider to the aviation industry. Under his leadership, the company developed FE Professional®, the world’s leading aircraft situation display which improves weather and airport situational awareness. Today, Wright is chairman of FE Holdings, Inc., which has interests in motorsports, gaming, entertainment, lighting and real estate.
Wright has received several awards highlighting his entrepreneurial skills and steadfast determination. These include the 2001 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the 2008 Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the Community Leadership Award and the NAACP Achievement Award. He was inducted into the U.S. Small Business Administration Hall of Fame in 2004 and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Minorities in Business.
In addition to Wright’s award, ten other outstanding individuals who have accomplished remarkable achievements through hard work, self-reliance and perseverance, will receive the 2009 Horatio Alger Award. They are:
- James S.C. Chao, chairman, Foremost Group
- David Foster, producer, composer and arranger, Reprise Records & 143 Records
- Clayton Paul Hilliard, president and owner, Badger Oil Corporation
- Rebecca MacDonald, founder and executive chair, Energy Savings Income Fund (international recipient)
- Michael G. Morris, chairman, president & CEO, American Electric Power
- Indra K. Nooyi, chairman and CEO, PepsiCo Inc.
- Carl H. Ricker, Jr., founder, chairman and CEO, Azalea Holdings; partner, Campus Crest Communities; chairman, executive committiee, Capital Bank Corp; co-founder and chairman, MXT Card Services, LLC
- Thomas Joseph Shannon, Jr., founder, T-Bird founder, T-Bird Restaurant Group, Inc. and Village Development Co.
- Denzel Washington, Academy Award winning actor and director
- Stephen A. Wynn, chairman and CEO, Wynn Resorts
The new members will be presented with their awards April 3rd at the Horatio Alger Awards Induction Ceremonies. Activities include three days of meetings and celebrations in some of the nation’s most historic buildings. The Horatio Alger National Scholars, remarkable high school seniors, will also be formally honored during the three-day gathering.
A complete list of all of the Horatio Alger Members can be found at http://www.horatioalger.com/members.cfm.
About The Horatio Alger Association
Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans continues to fulfill its mission of honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals in our society who have succeeded in spite of adversity and of encouraging young people to pursue their dreams through higher education. The Horatio Alger Association offers three annual scholarship programs: the National Scholarship Program and state scholarship programs, and graduate grants. The association awards nearly $7 million annually in college scholarships and has given more than $63 million to deserving students since 1984. The association is a 2008 Combined Federal Campaign participant, ID# 77062. For more information, please visit www.horatioalger.org.