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April 17, 2008 (Ellis Island, NY) - Today in the historic Great Hall on Ellis Island three esteemed individuals and a renowned family were honored by The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. for their contributions to the American Experience.

The 7th Annual Ellis Island Family Heritage Awards, given annually to a select number of Port of New York and Ellis Island immigrants or their descendants, were presented by Lee A. Iacocca, Founding Chairman of the Foundation, in an 11:00 a.m. ceremony hosted by Lynn Sherr of ABC News at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

The 2008 honorees are:

LITERATURE: Mary Higgins Clark – The Bronx-born bestselling suspense writer has sold over 85 million books in the U.S. alone and credits her Irish heritage for her storytelling talent. Mrs. Higgins Clark’s newest novel is “Where Are You Now?”. Her father came from Ireland in 1906.

BUSINESS: The Forbes Family – “Forbes,” the oldest of the nation’s major business magazines, was founded in 1917 by Scottish immigrant B.C. Forbes, who first arrived in America in 1904. B.C.’s descendants continue to manage Forbes Media Inc., a privately held company which publishes “Forbes” in eight foreign languages, reaching five million readers worldwide.

EDUCATION: Donna E. Shalala – President, University of Miami, Dr. Shalala has more than 25 years of experience as an accomplished scholar, teacher and administrator. Under President Clinton, she served eight years as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, becoming the longest serving HHS Secretary in U.S. history. Her paternal grandfather came from Lebanon in 1900.

ENTERTAINMENT: Mel Brooks - Director, producer, writer and actor, Mel Brooks has created many comedy film classics as well as the popular television show “Get Smart.” His latest project is “The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein” currently playing on Broadway. His father emigrated from Austria as a child in 1896.

In presenting the awards, Lee A. Iacocca said, “Each and every one of these honorees—these sons and daughters of Ellis Island—represents what I admire most about Americans: the drive to succeed, even in the face of adversity, the leadership and creativity to forge their way.”

The Ellis Island honorees received a framed copy of the original ship’s passenger manifest documenting the arrival of their family in America, obtained from the database of the American Family Immigration History Center® at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and online at The database contains the arrival records of the more than 25 million people who entered through the Port of New York and Ellis Island from 1892-1924. Forty percent of Americans have family immigration records in this database.

For more information on Ellis Island, visit

About The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.
The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in 1982 to raise funds for and oversee the historic restorations of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, working in partnership with the National Park Service/U.S. Department of the Interior. In addition to restoring the monuments, the Foundation created a museum in the Statue’s base and the world-class Ellis Island Immigration Museum, The American Immigrant Wall of Honor® and the American Family Immigration History Center®. Its endowment has funded over 200 projects at the islands.

Maria Pignataro (212-554-4476)
Peg Zitko (212-561-4517)

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