December 11, 2018

Carly Buggy
484-385-2934 (office)
[email protected]

Acclaimed “Ask Amy” advice-columnist and author Amy Dickinson to receive 2019 Horatio Alger Award 

Horatio Alger Association names 13 outstanding individuals, each of whom has overcome adversity to achieve professional and personal success, to its New Member Class of 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 11, 2018) – Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, today announced that Amy Dickinson, syndicated advice columnist, “Ask Amy,” has been selected for membership in this prestigious organization. Ms. Dickinson joins 12 other exceptional business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2019 honors. For more than 70 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to higher education and charitable endeavors throughout their lives.

Raised on a dairy farm in the tiny village of Freeville in upstate New York, Ms. Dickinson’s father abandoned the family when she was a child. He sold their dairy cows and secretly mortgaged his wife’s inherited farm, leaving the family financially devastated. Her mother was eventually forced to sell the farm and worked tirelessly to get the family of four children back on solid footing, taking a job as a typist at nearby Cornell University.

Ms. Dickinson often reflects on her late mother as someone who, despite her immense challenges as a single parent, created a loving and stable environment for her children. Her mother eventually enrolled in Cornell University as a full-time student at the age of 48, received her Master of Fine Arts from the school, and became a professor late in life. Watching her mother work hard and prevail over her own challenges provided a great template for her daughter to follow.

Ms. Dickinson received a scholarship to attend Clark University, but later transferred to Georgetown University. To support her studies, she worked 20 hours a week in the Office of Admissions, sometimes working through school holidays when she could not afford the bus fare home. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1981, she stayed in Washington, D.C., taking odd jobs, (including working as a lounge singer) before she was hired by NBC as an associate producer. In 1986, she married, moved to London, and had a daughter. Soon after, Ms. Dickinson’s past repeated itself as her husband walked out on their young family. Following the example set by her mother, Ms. Dickinson stayed focused on rebuilding a life for herself and her daughter. During this trying time, she found strength through her writing.

In time, her work and ambition earned her numerous opportunities and created terrific successes. Ms. Dickinson’s articles have appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington Post, Esquire. She wrote a popular column for Time Magazine. She has been a frequent panelist on National Public Radio (NPR)’s comedy quiz show, “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” In 2003, after a national search, she was chosen by The Chicago Tribune to write the “Ask Amy” advice column, after the death of the legendary Ann Landers. The “Ask Amy” column is syndicated throughout North America, reaching an estimated 20 million readers each day.  Her work is known for its compassion and wisdom, as well as its wit.

In 2009, after living in New York, London, Washington, and Chicago – she left her big-city life to return to her hometown of Freeville, NY when her mother became ill. She and her two sisters cared for their mother until her death, in 2012. While there, she met and married Bruno Schickel, a local man with whom she had gone to high school, and took on the nurturing of four adolescent stepdaughters.

Her memoir about this period, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, A Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them reached The New York Times bestseller list within two weeks of its release. In 2016, Ms. Dickinson published her second memoir, Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things, which revealed stories of her early life that shaped the woman she is today. Her career is symbolic of her quest to push through life’s unexpected situations, learning and growing from them along the way, and about the small-town values that have shaped her life and work.

“Amy turned the difficult lessons of her childhood into the building blocks of her success,” said Matthew Rose, president, Horatio Alger Association and 2013 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “In times of strife, she often called on the strength of her late mother and drew inspiration from the example she set. Amy’s perspective on finding hope no matter the challenge is admirable and we’re honored to welcome her as a 2019 Member.”

Ms. Dickinson aims to pay it forward through her work with many charitable organizations and initiatives. She has spearheaded library fundraising and literacy projects across the country, including her literacy initiative, “A Book on Every Bed,” a holiday campaign which encourages millions of families to give books to children. Ms. Dickinson is also admired for her work with the historic State Theater in Ithaca, New York, where she serves on the board of directors and helps to bring low-cost family entertainment to the community. She also helped to finance and build a new playground there to assist children coming from similar backgrounds to her own.

“My mother, irrespective of our circumstances, was my rock,” said Ms. Dickinson. “The lessons I learned from her – about strength through adversity – are enduring. She believed in the power of the individual to make her own way in the world. She was a great friend and role model to many, but especially to me. She encouraged me to apply the strength, intuition, and passion that is innate in all women, to rise to my own challenges and learn from my failures. And she loved people – exactly as they were. These lessons are my work’s guiding light. I’m so excited to connect with the young Horatio Alger Scholars and to offer friendship and mentorship through my involvement with this fantastic organization.”

Through its Members, Horatio Alger Association aims to educate young people about the limitless opportunities afforded to them by the free-enterprise system. To further this mission, the organization awards scholarships to outstanding high school students who are committed to pursuing higher education and giving back to their communities. Like Association Members, Horatio Alger Scholars have faced significant adversities, but have also displayed unmatched resilience in overcoming their challenges. Since the scholarship program was established in 1984, Horatio Alger Association has provided more than $159 million to students in need, all of which has been funded solely through the generosity of Association Members and friends.

“Ms. Dickinson is an excellent role model for youth who were dealt a difficult, unexpected hand in life,” said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director, Horatio Alger Association. “Her ability to re-direct hardship into hard work is inspirational, and her story is one I hope our Scholars will take to heart as they navigate life’s challenges.”

Ms. Dickinson and the Member Class of 2019 will be formally inducted into the Association on April 4-6, 2019, during the Association’s 72nd Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The annual three-day event honors the achievements of both Members and National Scholars, affording both groups the opportunity to meet and interact as well as exchange stories of hardships and triumphs.

For more information about Horatio Alger Association and its Member Class of 2019, please visit and/or follow the organization on FacebookTwitter and Instagram using the hashtag #HoratioAlgerAward.


About Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans:

Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. The Association honors the achievements of outstanding leaders who have accomplished remarkable successes in spite of adversity by bestowing upon them the Horatio Alger Award and inducting them as lifetime Members. Horatio Alger Members support promising young people with the resources and confidence needed to overcome adversity in pursuit of their dreams through higher education. Through the generosity of its Members and friends, in 2018, the Association awarded more than $16 million in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships across the United States and Canada, and also provided college support and mentoring services to its Scholars. Since 1984, the Association has awarded more than $159 million in college scholarships to more than 25,000 deserving young people. For more information, please visit