The Better Angels Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating Americans about their history through documentary film.

Our mission is to educate, engage and provoke thoughtful discussion among people of every political persuasion and ideology. We work to ensure historically significant films are completed, broadcast, promoted, and shared in ways that reach and inform as many people as possible through robust educational and civic outreach. The Society is currently raising funds for films in production and planned over the next ten years.

We are also working to ensure that the next generation of documentary filmmakers, inspired by Ken Burns and his team, receive the education, mentoring, training, and support they need to continue his legacy.



Carla Hayden was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress on September 14, 2016. The Library of Congress is not only the oldest cultural institution in the United States, it is the largest library in the world. The Library preserves and provides access to a rich, diverse and enduring source of knowledge to inform, inspire and engage you in your intellectual and creative endeavors. History documentary filmmakers access a trove of history content in the public domain, creating new and enduring education assets to define and illuminate the American story. The Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film will recognize excellence in a genre of filmmaking that is acknowledged as critical to citizens’ understanding of America’s values and narratives.


Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine are dedicated to strengthening society through education, public health, and supporting individuals and families in need. Jeannie, a philanthropist and former management strategy consultant with the Boston Consulting Group, is a trustee of The Better Angels Society Board of Directors. Jonathan founded Bain Capital Credit in 1998 and joined the company’s private equity group in 1993. He is currently the Co-Director of the firm.

As committed and active alums, they have provided significant support to their alma maters, Harvard University, and Columbia University. In 2017 Jonathan received the Columbia University Alexander Hamilton Medal, the highest honor awarded to a member of the college community for distinguished service. Jeannie, who earned both a Bachelor of Arts Degree and Masters of Business Administration from Harvard, served as co-chair of the Campaign for Harvard University’s School of Public Health and has been active in the leadership of both graduate and undergraduate committees and boards. At Harvard, where Jonathan also earned his MBA, they endowed the Lavine Family Humanitarian Studies Initiative at the Harvard School of Public Health and provided substantial support to fund scholarships for first-generation students at Harvard Business School. In 2007, expanding their philanthropy and continuing a mutual interest in education, Jeannie and Jonathan formed the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation. The Foundation delivers financial resources to a wide variety of nonprofit organizations focused on leveling the playing field for individuals and families. The Foundation works to address pressing social challenges in the areas of education, community and public service, health, and welfare, discrimination, and poverty. It supports the multi-disciplinary efforts of organizations that serve to strengthen society through research, innovation, public policy, direct service, and advocacy. Jeannie and Jonathan live in Massachusetts and New York. They have two daughters, Allie and Emily.


The Better Angels Society | 5185 MacArthur Boulevard, Suite 570, Washington, DC 20016 | 202-821-2039 | Email Us