On October 16, Kenner was honored at a ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. as Smithsonian magazine announced winners of the third annual American Ingenuity Awards. The awards recognize the year’s most amazing achievements and the innovators behind them. Called the “Golden Globes of Intellect” by Washingtonian magazine, the event included presenter Stephen Hawking and many other leaders in their fields. “Smithsonian magazine’s editorial team has selected an exceptional group of honorees who each embody our mission of increasing knowledge and shaping the world of tomorrow,” said Smithsonian magazine editor-in-chief Michael Caruso.
The Washington Post featured an excerpt of Kenner's speech, saying "[he] gave a moving acceptance speech about the largely untapped potential of prison inmates."
In his speech, he told the audience that by providing incarcerated men and women with educations comparable to any college student, they become inspired and, perhaps for the first time, see their place in the world.
Many have felt marginalized, heard that higher education wasn’t for them or felt disconnected from society. Engaging in intellectual pursuit and finding purpose changes not only the individual, but his or her relationships with family and the world, according to Kenner.