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Ginger and Geoff Worden Receive 2019 Kurt Hahn Award for Outstanding Service

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    EL Education

EL Education is delighted to share the news that Ginger and Geoff Worden are the recipients of Outward Bound’s 2019 Kurt Hahn Award.

This annual award is given to individuals who have made a significant contribution through their life’s work on behalf of others, while demonstrating the values and ideals of educator Kurt Hahn. 

EL Education is incredibly proud to see the Wordens’ contributions to advancing our educational vision and values recognized through this Award. Ginger, a founding board member of EL Education, served as Board Chair from 2008-2017. She and Geoff have been steadfast supporters and friends of the organization for nearly three decades, committed to advancing high-quality, equitable education for all. Together, they have made a lifelong commitment to serving others. 

Please join us in congratulating Ginger and Geoff Worden and thanking them for their commitment to our collective work. We are excited that we will take our own public moment to honor Ginger at our EL Education Gala on April 6, 2020. 

From Outward Bound USA:

We are pleased to announce Ginger and Geoff Worden as this year’s Kurt Hahn Award recipients. This annual award, named in honor of the founder of Outward Bound, is presented to those who exemplify outstanding service to our mission. It has been awarded to individuals who have made a significant contribution through their life’s work on behalf of others, while demonstrating the values and ideals of Kurt Hahn. This year we are acknowledging Ginger and Geoff Worden for their service and commitment to Outward Bound. 

Ginger and Geoff personify all that Kurt Hahn stood for and all that Outward Bound seeks to teach and encourage in others. They have a long and distinguished history of involvement with Outward Bound, at both national and regional levels, as Board members and participants. They first became involved with Outward Bound through a North Carolina Outward Bound School (NCOBS) Guest Invitational Expedition and emerged “energized and captivated.” Since that time, they have served on the Boards of four Outward Bound entities in the United States over four decades, serving each with uncommon leadership, wisdom and compassion:

  • North Carolina Outward Bound School (Ginger 1983-1994, Vice-chair 1991-94; Geoff 2007-2011)
  • NYC Outward Bound Schools (Geoff 1989-present, Chair from 1996-2000)
  • EL Education, formerly Expeditionary Learning (Ginger 1992-present, Chair from 2008-2017)
  • Outward Bound USA (Geoff 2001-2006, Chair of National Charter Committee; Ginger 2002-2005)

The Wordens have participated in countless Outward Bound expeditions, programs and activities over the years. Including their five children, the Worden family has logged more than 275 days of Outward Bound programming. Ginger and Geoff’s OB adventures include expeditions in Costa Rica, Patagonia, Peru, on the Green River and NYC Outward Bound Schools’ urban-based courses. Among their Outward Bound highlights is their family climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro with the East Africa Mountain School during which their son, Zach (at the age of 10 years, 2 months) became the youngest person known to have reached Uhuru Peak. On this same expedition, Ginger devised a service project for their descent: equipped with garbage bags, everyone collected trash that cluttered the caves along the route as they made their way down the mountain. When the Mountain School staff saw what had been collected and dragged off the mountain, they held a short meeting and informed the family that, as a result of the service project, they had fulfilled the requirements for their Outward Bound course and awarded them pins. Ginger and Geoff’s sterling character shines through when they participate in these expeditions and activities, modeling their families’ lifelong commitment to serving others and leaving the world better than they found it.

While both Ginger and Geoff have had productive professional lives, it is their work in the non-profit sector that they find the most fulfilling. In 1987, Ginger and Geoff enrolled at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. A year later they founded “Bridges,” a community outreach program designed to bring homeless and housed people together in community. Each week housed volunteers bring food, blankets, clothing, personal care items, and their authentic presence to more than four hundred homeless people living on the streets of lower Manhattan, Irvington, N.J. and Newark.

Ginger’s leadership on the NCOBS Board and as a founding director of Expeditionary Learning (EL) highlight her strong judgment, commitment to quality and caring nature. Ginger has a keen sense of institutional strategy, which she showed as a visionary board member with a pragmatic sense of how to bring things to fruition. She has a gentle and gracious presence, and at the same time demonstrates fortitude and steadfast resolve in a way that affects everyone positively. Those qualities were enlisted by Ginger’s alma mater, Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, when they asked her to serve as interim president while the Board of Trustees deliberated the wisdom of becoming co-educational. Her leadership during this transition contributed to a name change to Randolph College and the successful admission of young men in the fall of 2007. Ginger’s willingness to assume the role of interim presidency serves as an example of her devotion and loyalty to the institutions in which she believes, and her success is evidence of her skilled management and consensus forming abilities. At the forefront of all her work, Ginger has a captivating interest in students and the teachers who teach them. Her involvement with, dedication to, and enthusiasm for the educational vision of Kurt Hahn is paramount and a necessary means to a constructive end.

As an early trustee of NYC Outward Bound Schools (NYCOBS), Geoff labored mightily with others to position the organization for success and establish it as a model for delivering inner-city public-school education and urban-based Outward Bound programs. Geoff helped build a highly effective fundraising organization, and as Board Chair, institutionalized the NYCOBS annual benefit, and initiated a capital campaign to finance their first owned facility. At both NYCOBS and NCOBS, under Geoff’s focused leadership, long-term strategic planning was initiated which paved the way for future expansion and impact. In his role on the OBUSA Board, Geoff approached challenges between Schools and between OBUSA and regional schools based on his understanding of Outward Bound’s principles, always encouraging a path forward that kept the student at the center of the resolution. His gracious but firm leadership style and thoughtful approach always supported a successful outcome. Geoff combines unparalleled acumen in negotiating planning strategies with a warm personality, good-natured humor, self-deprecating humility, and a genuine curiosity to listen to others. As a result of Geoff’s skills and the work of many others, Outward Bound continues to be a coherent, successful and forward-looking educational movement in the United States.

Through their life works, Ginger and Geoff exemplify the dynamic nature and moral courage of Kurt Hahn. They are not satisfied unless their compassionate ideals take shape in action – not just in words. They carry the wisdom and lived experience of the best leaders who have emerged in Outward Bound’s educational movement worldwide. Many across the Outward Bound system echo the sentiment, that individually, Ginger and Geoff each deserve our highest recognition, however, together the Wordens are a force of nature. Through their careful diplomacy and creative leadership, locally and nationally for almost four decades, their impact has been extraordinary. And they, along with the support of their family, continue their hard work – To Serve, to Strive and Not to Yield.

Previous recipients of the award include HRH Prince Philip, activist and politician Sargent Shriver, The New York Times Company Chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., EL Education founder Greg Farrell, EL Education founding Chair, Lee Klingenstein, and NYC Outward Bound Schools’ President & CEO, Richard Stopol.