Common Sense salutes four honorees for their positive impact on kids' lives.

The 2016 Common Sense Media Awards were held in New York City on May 3. It was an incredible evening and a privilege for us to salute each of our honorees for the inspirational work they do to help kids, families, and schools harness the power of media and technology.

We were thrilled to have in attendance special guests the Honorable Julian Castro, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Tom Wheeler, chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. Our host, journalist and author Claire Shipman, led us in a fantastic evening, honoring four outstanding educators, activists, and media creators for their positive and lasting impact on kids' lives. 


Social Change Catalyst Award

Nza-Ari Khepra

​Founder of the Wear Orange campaign, a leading youth-led movement using social media to turn tragedy into a meaningful gun-violence-awareness effort, Nza-Ari Khepra is an inspiring role model and youth activist. 



Best Family Media Award

Accepted by Clark Spencer, producer, and Nate Torrence, voice of Clawhauser)

Recognized for offering an exceptional media experience for families of all types, Zootopia is also the recipient of the Common Sense Seal. 



Educational Creator Award

Bill Nye

Scientist, engineer, comedian, author, and inventor, Bill Nye the Science Guy has made science cool and engaging for a generation of kids.



Educator of the Year Award

Marie Belle Vargas

Library media specialist at PS1x in New York City and champion of technology integration in the classroom, Marie Belle Vargas serves as a role model and mentor for her students and colleagues.


See more about Marie Belle's work in our honoree video below. And stay tuned for more stories about these incredible individuals in the days and weeks to come.

Erin Wilkey O.

Erin’s work has focused on supporting students, teachers, and families for over a decade. As content director for family and community engagement at Common Sense, she provides parents and caregivers with practical tips and strategies for managing media and tech at home, and supports teachers in strengthening partnerships with families. Prior to her work with Common Sense, Erin taught public high school students and adult English learners in Kansas City. Her time as a National Writing Project teacher consultant nurtured her passion for student digital creation and media literacy. She has bachelor's degrees in English and secondary education and a master's degree in instructional design and technology. Erin loves to knit, read, hike, and bake. But who has time for hobbies with two young kids? In her free time these days, you'll find her hanging out at playgrounds, the zoo, and the beach with her family.