President Hennessy receives the inaugural Tall Tree Global Impact Award

When it was time for the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce and the Palo Alto Weekly to honor outstanding local individuals and organizations with the 2013 Tall Tree Awards, they decided to add another prize to this year’s roster — the Global Impact Award.  Stanford President JOHN HENNESSY was selected as its first recipient.

“I am deeply honored to be the first recipient of the Tall Tree Global Impact Award,” Hennessy said at a celebration of the awardees earlier this month. He noted that El Palo Alto, “the tall tree,” is at the center of both the Stanford seal and the City of Palo Alto’s seal.

During his acceptance remarks, Hennessy recognized all of the “incredible people” he’s worked with, particularly faculty and staff, “who are so dedicated to our students.”

“My career and my interests and my family have all been nurtured by this community over the years,” Hennessy continued. “Of course, living in this area I breathed the atmosphere of entrepreneurism that is everywhere and learned about thinking big, swallowing that potion that says you really can change the world and do something remarkable that affects people.

“The symbiotic relationship between the community, the university and the valley has been absolutely crucial to make that happen. One of the reasons we’ve succeeded is not only this inventive atmosphere that exists at the university, but because this is an absolutely delightful place to live. And that’s one of the things that’s really helped us recruit the best and brightest people from around the world.”

Hennessy said that when he and his wife, Andrea, first came to the area in 1977, it was not the world’s technological hub as it is today.

“When I first came, if you wanted to go talk to the movers and shakers in the computer industry, you had to get on a plane and fly to Boston or fly to New York. Now, they all fly here to visit us,” he said.

He reminded the attendees that there remains work to be done in order to ensure that the greater Palo Alto area continues to hold on to its core values: excellence in education; maintaining a vibrant arts community; building a state-of-the-art hospital; and being role models in environmental sustainability.

“I look forward to working with all of you to make sure that our community remains a leader not only in innovation, but also in the quality of life we offer the people who live here,” Hennessy concluded.

Since 1980, the Tall Tree Awards have recognized individuals and organizations that have made “bold and significant contributions to the heart of Palo Alto, while extending influence beyond our local community.”

In addition to the Global Impact Award (which will be awarded periodically, not annually), the 2013 recipients of the annual Tall Tree Awards are:

Outstanding Business: Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

Outstanding Nonprofit Organization: Breast Cancer Connections

Outstanding Citizen: RAY BACCHETTI, a former vice president for planning and management at Stanford

Outstanding Professional: BECKY BEACOM, health educator for Palo Alto Medical Foundation

—ELAINE RAY