Awarded to an individual for most outstanding initiative, leadership, and service in advancing the goals of NPPA in the tradition of Joseph Costa, a founder of NPPA, its first president and chairman of the board (one award each year; established in 1954).
Joseph Costa also edited the official NPPA magazine, then called the National Press Photographer, from 1946 to 1966. For nearly 44 years, he was a photographer, chief photographer, or photo supervisor for the New York Morning World, New York Daily News, New York Mirror, and King Features Syndicate (when the New York Mirror folded). Until 1985, he taught photojournalism at Ball State University, Muncie, IN., where he was awarded an honorary degree upon retirement. Joe Costa died in 1988. Claude Cookman's book, A Voice is Born, written for the NPPA, describes the role Costa played in the founding of the organization.