2018 Millennium Candler Honorees



PEACE PRIZE – Coretta Scott King accepted by Bernice King

Honors leadership in the promotion of fraternity between peoples and nations.


King was a leader in the United States’ Civil Rights movement and spent her lifetime tirelessly pursuing non-violence.  She lived for the very definition of peace: “freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility,” and “freedom from violence.” During her husband’s lifetime, Mrs. King sacrificed her own aspirations of a career in music to support him as he became a full-time minister. Her devotion to the cause of Peace predates her husband’s. Ambassador Andrew Young and Dr. C.T. Vivian confirm that Mrs. King and the women were the true leaders and backbone of the movement, as they preceded the men to dangerous and conflicted areas in order to prepare for the men’s arrivals and ministries. After her husband’s death, Mrs. King played a lead role for the movement for peace and racial equality herself. She built the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, she led the successful campaign in 1986, when Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was made a federal holiday, she led the campaign to construct a monument for her husband in Washington, D.C., saying it would “complete a group of memorials in the nation’s capital honoring democracy’s greatest leaders, including Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and now Martin Luther King, Jr.” For her work to foster peace in the world since a young child by fighting for equality of all people, for her persistent promotion of Dr. King’s non-violent, God-given burden, particularly after her sacrifice and loss of her husband, for her courage to take the fight to many places around the world, including her sacrifice and arrest assisting Nelson Mandela, the Millennium Candler Prize Commission having met in Copenhagen, bestows posthumously to Coretta Scott King the Millennium Candler Peace Prize, to be awarded to her daughter, Bernice King, in Atlanta in October, 2018.


JUSTICE PRIZE – First Lady Rosalynn Carter

Honors leadership in effecting positive social change.


Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has worked for more than four decades to improve the quality of life for people around the world. Today, she is a leading advocate for mental health, caregiving, early childhood immunization, human rights, and conflict resolution through her work at The Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The Center is a private, nonprofit institution founded by former President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter in 1982.


A full partner with the president in all the Center’s activities, the former first lady is a member of the Carter Center Board of Trustees. She created and chairs the Carter Center’s Mental Health Task Force, an advisory body of experts, consumers, and advocates promoting positive change in the mental health field. Each year, she hosts the Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy, bringing together leaders of the nation’s mental health organizations to address critical issues.
Mrs. Carter emerged as a driving force for mental health when, during the Carter administration, she became active honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health, which resulted in passage of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980.


She served on the Policy Advisory Board of The Atlanta Project (TAP), a program of The Carter Center addressing the social ills associated with poverty and quality of life citywide, from the program’s inception in 1991 until its transfer to Georgia State University in 1999. In 1988, she convened with three other former first ladies the “Women and the Constitution” conference at The Carter Center to assess that document’s impact on women.


Outside the center, Mrs. Carter is president of the board of directors for the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI), which was established in her honor on the campus of her alma mater, Georgia Southwestern State University, in Americus, Georgia. Through research, education, and training, the RCI promotes the mental health and well-being of individuals, families, and professional caregivers; delineates effective caregiving practices; builds public awareness of caregiving needs; and advances public and social policies that enhance caring communities.


A mother of four, with 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, she has maintained a life long dedication to issues affecting women and children. In 1991, she launched with Mrs. Betty Bumpers, wife of former U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers of Arkansas, Every Child By Two, a nationwide campaign to protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases by raising awareness of the critical need for timely infant immunizations. She also works with Habitat for Humanity, participating in the annual weeklong Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project that in 1984 began building homes for the needy, and Project Interconnections, a public/private nonprofit partnership to provide housing for homeless people who are mentally ill. She served as distinguished centennial lecturer at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, from 1988-1992 and is currently a distinguished fellow at the Emory University Department of Women’s Studies in Atlanta.


Since graduating from Georgia Southwestern College in 1946, Mrs. Carter has received many honors, among them the Volunteer of the Decade Award from the National Mental Health Association; the Award of Merit for Support of the Equal Rights Amendment from the National Organization for Women; the Notre Dame Award for International Service; the Eleanor Roosevelt Living World Award from Peace Links; the Kiwanis World Service Medal from Kiwanis International Foundation; the Jefferson Award from the American Institute for Public Service; the Georgia Woman of the Year Award from the Georgia Commission on Women; the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health from the Institute of Medicine; the United States Surgeon General’s Medallion; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. In 2001, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.


She has written five books: her autobiography First Lady from Plains; Everything To Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life, a book about life after the White House co authored with President Carter; Helping Yourself Help Others: A Book For Caregivers (with Susan K. Golant); Helping Someone with Mental Illness: A Compassionate Guide for Family, Friends, and Caregivers (with Susan K. Golant), which was selected as the winner of the 1999 American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Book Award in the service category; and Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis (with Susan K. Golant and Kathryn E. Cade). She continues to travel and speak throughout the world, is a deacon at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, and enjoys fly-fishing, bird-watching, swimming, and biking in her free time.



Honors excellence in the arts, sciences, or business.


Kessel Stelling serves as Chairman and CEO of Synovus, a $29 billion asset bank. Mr. Stelling leads a talented team of bankers, investment professionals, and support teams in developing strategies designed to drive growth. He guides a team consisting of commercial, retail, corporate, and financial management services professionals in building long-term relationships while also ensuring the company remains focused on fostering a great working environment, effectively managing risk, reducing expenses, and increasing shareholder value.


Mr. Stelling began his career with Synovus in March 2006 when the company purchased Riverside Bancshares, Inc., and merged it with Bank of North Georgia, headquartered in Alpharetta. In June 2008, he was promoted to Synovus Regional CEO for the Atlanta market. Mr. Stelling was named Synovus President and Chief Operating Officer in February 2010 and was named President and Chief Executive Officer in October 2010. He became Chairman of the Board in January 2012.


In addition to his Mr. Stelling serves the chairman of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, the Treasurer of the Financial Services Roundtable, a board member of the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) Foundation Inc., the 2014 Chairman of the Dean’s Advisory Council of the University of Georgia Terry College of Business, and serves on the board of Georgia Power and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.


Mr. Stelling has been honored with the Leadership Character Award from the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership and the Blue Key Service Award from the University of Georgia Chapter of the Blue Key National Honor Society. He has been named to the list of the “100 Most Influential Georgians” by Georgia Trend Magazine every year since 2009, and was awarded the “Distinguished Alumni Award” by the University of Georgia Terry College of Business.


In 2007-08 the United States and the world suffered one of the greatest financial recessions in history. Banks and great financial institutions were failing almost daily for a period of time. Mr. Stelling’s deft management and wise, steady strategy and planning brought about a renaissance at Synovus, one of the nation’s largest banking institutions, saving thousands of jobs and billions of dollars. He has been a great steward to Georgia and the nation.