The award has previously gone to President Bill Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, singer Taylor Swift, actor George Clooney, Hillary Clinton, and Vice President Al Gore.
Cook will be recognised alongside Evercore co-founder Roger Altman, Democratic Representative John Lewis, and UNESCO Ambassador Marianna Vardinoyannis.
The foundation, which also distributes awards for journalism and literature, describes it as “lauding leaders of the international business, entertainment, and activist communities who demonstrate commitment to social change and reflect Robert Kennedy’s passion for equality, justice, basic human rights, and his belief that we all must strive to ‘make gentle the life of this world.'”
Cook has taken public stances on big issues, including gay rights. In an open letter published by Bloomberg, Cook came out, stating that “if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”
Apple, lead by Cook, has also become an advocate for equal rights, publicly opposing Indiana’s hiring laws. “At Apple, we try to make sure people understand that they don’t have to check their identity at the door,” Cook wrote in The Wall Street Journal. “We’re committed to creating a safe and welcoming workplace for all employees, regardless of their race, gender, nationality or sexual orientation.”
Cook will receive the award on December 8.