Willow Bay to be honored with the PEN Center USA's Award of Honor

PEN Center USA, a human rights and literary nonprofit based in Beverly Hills, announced today two key honorees for the 26th Annual Literary Awards Festival. Hosted by actors and bestselling authors Amber Tamblyn and David Cross, the ceremony will take place on September 28, 2016, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Willow Bay, Director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, will receive the Award of Honor, and Former Tehran Bureau Chief for the Washington Post Jason Rezaian will receive the Freedom to Write Award.

Bay, Director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, will receive the Award of Honor, which recognizes people and institutions that have made meaningful contributions to the world of writers and journalists. Bay also serves as Senior Strategic Advisor for the Huffington Post, where she has interviewed Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, for the site’s first global live-streaming event. Most recently, Bay served as a special correspondent for Bloomberg Television, where she regularly interviewed top business and global thinkers including former President Bill Clinton and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk. Earlier in her career, Bay served as co-anchor for ABC’s Good Morning America, as an anchor and reporter for NBC News and MSNBC, and was the first woman to co-anchor CNN's financial news program Moneyline.

Rezaian is a former Washington Post Bureau Chief, and was based in Tehran, Iran, from 2009 until his arrest in 2014. Rezaian reported on key events, including elections and nuclear negotiations, all with the mission of explaining Iran to a general American audience. In July of 2014, Rezaian and his wife were detained in their home, and he went on to spend 545 days in Tehran’s Evin prison, until his release on the same day that the historic nuclear deal between Iran and world powers was implemented in January of 2016. 

The USC Annenberg School of Journalism fosters dynamic synergies and multidisciplinary approaches to the study of journalism through unparalleled access to the nation's and the world's media, entertainment, and technology industries. The school has become a center for discussion among scholars and professionals in journalism, communication, public policy, media, and education.

PEN Center USA previously announced globally acclaimed author Isabel Allende as the recipient of the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award.

The 26th Annual Literary Awards Festival, which honors the best writing in the western United States, will also feature the presentation of the 2016 Literary Awards, which include one-thousand-dollar cash prizes. A distinguished panel of writers, editors, critics, and journalists judge the Literary Awards. The 2016 PEN Center USA Literary Award winners will be announced in early August.

PEN Center USA’s mission is to stimulate and maintain interest in the written word, to foster a vital literary culture, and to defend freedom of expression domestically and internationally.

For more information on The 26th Annual Literary Awards Festival, please contact PEN Center USA at awards@penusa.org or visit penusa.org