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National Portrait Gallery Announces High-Profile Lineup of Presenters for the 2019 American Portrait Gala

Michelle Obama, Preston Bezos, James Corden, France Córdova, Clive Davis and Alberto Ibargüen Will Present Awards; Award-Winning Journalist Gayle King To Serve as Master of Ceremonies


The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has announced the lineup of presenters for its upcoming American Portrait Gala Sunday, Nov. 17. The biennial event, which raises funds for the museum’s exhibitions endowment, brings together some of the nation’s most prominent and respected voices. This year, the museum is awarding its “Portrait of a Nation Prize” to Frances Arnold, Jeffrey P. Bezos, Earth, Wind & Fire (Maurice White [posthumously], Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson), Lin-Manuel Miranda, Indra Nooyi and Anna Wintour. Award-winning journalist Gayle King will serve as the gala’s Master of Ceremonies.

The full lineup of presenters and awardees for the third biennial gala are:

  • Michelle Obama, former First Lady, to Lin-Manuel Miranda, award-winning composer, lyricist, actor and creator of the Tony Award-winning musicals In The Heights and Hamilton: An American Musical

  • Preston Bezos, son, to Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder of Amazon and Blue Origin, owner of the Washington Post, tech entrepreneur and philanthropist

  • James Corden, actor, comedian and television host of The Late Late Show, to Anna Wintour, artistic director of Condé Nast and editor-in-chief of Vogue

  • France Córdova, astrophysicist and director of the National Science Foundation, to Frances Arnold, scientist, engineer and Nobel Laureate

  • Clive Davis, Grammy Award-winning music industry executive and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to Earth, Wind & Fire, award-winning American band

  • Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, to Indra Nooyi, business executive and named by Forbes as one of world’s 100 most powerful women

The Portrait of a Nation Prize celebrates and honors exemplary achievements in the worlds of science, performing arts, business, fashion and media.

“The Portrait Gallery is focused on bringing together people of different backgrounds and disciplines who have impacted American history and culture,” said Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery. “We look forward to this stellar lineup of presenters sharing their thoughts and memories of each honoree. We are also delighted to bring new elements to this year’s gala including an honorary fashion designer.”

The evening will feature Prabal Gurung as Honorary Fashion Designer and a special performance by honorees Earth, Wind & Fire.

National chairs of the 2019 American Portrait Gala are Randi Charno Levine and Jeffrey Levine, and Joseph P. Ujobai and Eduardo Ardiles. Washington, D.C., chairs are Kristin and John Cecchi and Susanna and Jack Quinn. American Portrait Gala founding chairs are Wayne and Catherine Reynolds. Co-chairs of the event include Robert and Arlene Kogod, Michael and Catherine Podell, and David M. Rubenstein. Vice chairs for the evening include JP Morgan, Indra Nooyi, Tom L. Pegues and Donald Capoccia, Patty Stonesifer, and Jay and Tracy Snyder.

The American Portrait Gala—a fundraising event—was established in 2015 to strengthen the museum’s endowment for exhibitions and to focus attention on the museum’s work with living sitters and contemporary artists. For a list of past recipients of the Portrait of a Nation Prize, visit

The Jefferson Hotel has generously provided in-kind support for the 2019 American Portrait Gala. Washington Life is a media partner of the 2019 gala.

National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story.

The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000.

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