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Ben, Dave and... Me?

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By Ray

What could Ben Franklin, Dave Brubeck and me (representing Johnson & Johnson) possibly have in common with the US Department of State? Well, earlier this week I was privileged to receive on behalf of Johnson & Johnson the State Department's first-ever corporate recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy.

And America's jazz great? He was another awardee. David Brubeck, Johnson & Johnson and two other organizations -- Search for Common Ground and The University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy -- were recognized for having established positive and productive international outreach in their continuing efforts.

Johnson & Johnson received the award based on its 20 years of support for Safe Kids, a program we helped design in 1988 to reduce accidental injury and death in children aged 14 and under. But the real congratulations go to Dr. Martin Eichelberger, who had the vision and requested our help to create the program.

At the time, Dr Eichelberger was head of trauma services at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington -- and was alarmed by the growing numbers of children needing Emergency Room treatment for major -- but often preventable -- injuries.

Today, this initiative is credited with reducing the incidence of accidental injury and death among children by about 38,000 children a year in the U.S.. And it's going global. To date, the program has made its way into 17 countries around the world.

My favorite moment? Sitting with the Brubecks at lunch and having the chance to tell them that my wife was rehearsing David Brubeck's piece "To Hope" with her choir that very week.

My biggest insight?: Diplomacy comes in many, many forms.

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