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CNN Heroes: Meet the Blue Ribbon Panel

  • Story Highlights
  • Blue Ribbon Panel of leaders and humanitarians chose Top 10 CNN Heroes
  • "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" will celebrate work of this year's honorees
  • Anderson Cooper will host the global telecast on Thanksgiving, 9 p.m. ET
  • Vote for the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year at CNN.com/Heroes.
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(CNN) -- A Blue Ribbon Panel of distinguished leaders and humanitarians -- including Gen. Colin Powell, Whoopi Goldberg and Sir Elton John -- has selected 2009's Top 10 CNN Heroes.

CNN will announce the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year and honor the Top 10 CNN Heroes in a star-studded gala celebration, "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute" on Thanksgiving, November 26, from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

Also among the Blue Ribbon Panelists is Malaak Compton-Rock, founder and director of The Angelrock Project, an online e-village that promotes volunteerism, social responsibility and sustainable change.

"Being a panelist is really special," Compton-Rock told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "This happens to be my favorite awards show -- not the Emmys, not the Oscars, not the Grammys or the MTV awards -- but this show.

"So, when I got the invitation in the mail, I was ecstatic -- I mean, I ran around the house, I told my husband, I was so excited. It's a privilege to even be in the company of my other panelists, first of all, and to be able to learn so much about people who are changing the world."

Learn more about Compton-Rock and the other members of the Blue Ribbon Panel, all of them heroes to others through their continuing commitment to public service:

Wallis Annenberg, Philanthropist and community advocate
Considered a visionary philanthropist and leader, Annenberg is committed to improving the well-being of people and communities worldwide. She is the chairman of the board, president and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation, which has given more than $250 million dollars in "high-impact" grants to over 500 organizations. Her cause

Tory Burch, Designer, entrepreneur and humanitarian
Burch is an award-winning fashion designer who launched the Tory Burch Foundation, which provides economic opportunities to low-income women and their families in the United States. Under her direction, the foundation helps women entrepreneurs access financial tools that improve their lives. (Photo provided by Tory Burch) Her causes: 1 | 2

Kirk Cameron, Actor, producer and author
Cameron is a Golden Globe nominated actor who, with his wife, founded Camp Firefly, a week-long retreat for terminally and seriously ill children and their families. He is the producer and co-host of a spirituality-based reality television program airing weekly in over 100 countries. His cause

Malaak Compton-Rock, Humanitarian, public speaker and author
Compton-Rock is the founder and director of The Angelrock Project, an online e-village that promotes volunteerism, social responsibility and sustainable change. She creates and champions initiatives focused on at-risk and orphaned youth, child abuse awareness and prevention, and Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Her cause

Whoopi Goldberg, Actress, author, producer and humanitarian
Considered a premier talent in the entertainment industry, Goldberg is an Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award winner. She is a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations and supports a number of humanitarian efforts on behalf of children, the homeless, human rights, education, substance abuse and the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Phil Jackson, NBA coach, author and philanthropist
The head coach of the L.A. Lakers, Jackson has won an NBA-record 10 championships and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007. He is a longtime supporter of the American Indian College Fund, which provides scholarships and support for Native American students and tribal colleges. His cause

Sir Elton John, Singer, songwriter, composer and humanitarian
A renowned singer/songwriter and performer, John is one of the top selling solo artists of all time and recipient of Grammy Awards, Tony Awards and an Oscar. He is founder and chairman of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which supports HIV/AIDS prevention and service programs in 55 countries. (Photo: Deborah Anderson) His cause

Masi Oka, Actor and humanitarian
Oka is a Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated actor and star of NBC's Heroes. As a member of the American Red Cross' National Celebrity Cabinet, he donates his time, skills and energy to help raise awareness of the organization's initiatives, services and response efforts nationwide. His cause

Mariane Pearl, International journalist, author and speaker
Pearl is an award-winning journalist and author, and a member of the Daniel Pearl Foundation's honorary board. Formed in memory of her husband, the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002, its mission is to promote cross-cultural understanding. (Photo: Martin de la Serna) Her causes: 1 | 2

Retired Gen. Colin Powell, Presidential Medals of Freedom recipient, statesman, author
Powell is a retired four-star general, former U.S. Secretary of State, and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is the founding chairman of America's Promise Alliance, an alliance of national partner organizations advocating for the needs of young people and encouraging Americans to engage in volunteer service. His cause

Rossana Rosado, Journalist and community advocate
Rosado is publisher and CEO of El Diario La Prensa, the oldest Spanish-language daily newspaper in the United States. She serves on the boards of many New York organizations advocating for women and children, including the New York Women's Foundation, which supports initiatives for low-income women and girls. Her cause

Shakira, Recording artist, children's advocate and humanitarian
Shakira is a Grammy-winning recording artist and founder of the Barefoot Foundation, which works to increase access to high-quality education, especially for the world's poorest children. She serves as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and honorary chair of the Global Campaign for Education. (Photo: Jaume De La Iguana) Her causes: 1 | 2

Tavis Smiley, Media personality, author and advocate
Considered an influential voice on leadership, accountability and the black experience, Smiley hosts a late-night PBS talk show and a national radio show. He is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of leaders and is the founder of the Tavis Smiley Foundation, which provides leadership training and development for youth. His cause

Ted Turner, Entrepreneur, environmentalist, philanthropist and author
Turner is the founder of Turner Broadcasting and CNN and chairman of Turner Enterprises Inc. Considered one of the most influential philanthropists in the United States, his foundations support projects that will help to guarantee a stronger and safer planet for future generations. His cause

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