PEN America will present the 2016 PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award to LeeAnne Walters and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of Flint, Michigan this year.
Walters, a mother of four, and Dr. Hanna-Attisha, are credited with shedding light on the massive lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan’s water supply. The two will be honored at the annual PEN Literary Gala on May 16 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Walters demanded that the city test her water after her four-year-old son Gavin was diagnosed with potentially lead poisoning. While city denied the issue, Walters took the problem to the EPA whose experts at Virginia Tech did a study which uncovered the truth. Dr. Hanna-Attisha, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Michigan State University and clinician at Flint’s Hurley Medical Center, got involved after hearing about the study and exposed the high levels of lead poisoning among children in Flint.