Ridgefield Library announces date and honorees for 2020 Great Expectations Gala

Jay and Eileen Walker

Jay and Eileen Walker

Francis Catania / Contributed photo

The Ridgefield Library is pleased to announce its 2020 Hope H. Swenson Visionary Award honorees, Eileen and Jay Walker. The Walkers have been chosen as recipients of the 7th annual Swenson Visionary Award for their embodiment of the Library’s vision and mission in their lives as well as their work and philanthropy benefiting Ridgefield and the larger national and global communities.

The award will be presented to the Walkers at the Library’s annual Great Expectations Gala to be held on the Library premises on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Both Walkers have impressive career résumés. Eileen was a long time executive with IBM in Human Resources, retiring after nearly twenty years to pursue her philanthropic passions while Jay is renowned as one of the most influential inventors and entrepreneurs who have helped fuel the revolution of internet commerce. Jay Walker is a U.S. inventor, entrepreneur and curator of one of the world’s great private libraries. He is probably best known as the founder of Priceline.com and holder of more than 950 issued and pending US and International patents. Jay is the Chairman of ApiJect Systems Corp., the developer of an innovative new compact, prefilled, single-use syringe. He is also the Chairman of Upside, a travel start-up and Chairman of WDTS which utilizes RFID technology in gaming in Asia.

Eileen and Jay touch a broad number of institutions in their philanthropy, with an emphasis on supporting organizations related to education and health. Eileen is a Trustee Emeritus of her alma mater, Cornell University and is a director of the Administrative Board of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. She chairs the board of the TEDMED Foundation and is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Harvey School, in Katonah, NY. She has served on the Boards of numerous local non-profits, including the Ridgefield Library. Eileen is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of RVNAhealth, on the Board of Directors of Kids in Crisis, and serves on the Advisory Council of the Western Connecticut Health Systems Research Institute, the Advisory Board of the Women’s Center in Danbury and in an advisory capacity with Wildlife in Crisis, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Weston.

Jay is Curator of the TEDMED conference, the health and medicine edition of the world-famous TED conference. He is also co-founder of The TEDMED Foundation, for which he serves as a director. He also serves on the Presidents’ Circle for the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Perhaps closest to the spirit of the Library ethos, Jay is the founder and curator of the Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination housed at their home containing thousands of unique, museum quality artifacts that stir his and his guests imagination in a one of a kind library-like setting.

The Walkers’ contributions to the many communities they enrich personify the spirit of the Library vision to be the model for a vibrant and vital 21st century community library and its mission to meet the evolving needs of our Ridgefield community as the essential partner and place for people to go to discover, question, learn and connect.

The Ridgefield Library is delighted to honor the Walkers at the 2020 Great Expectations Gala next Spring.

For additional information and sponsorship opportunities, contact Laureen Bubniak, Director of Development at 203-438-2282 Ext. 11029 or lmbubniak@ridgefieldlibrary.org.