In Profiles in Courage, President Kennedy told the stories of eight United States senators who risked their careers by standing up for particular ideals or principles, even when constituents or powerful interest groups pressured them to bend.

Today, elected officials are too often captives to opinion polls, reluctant to act in the broader public interest when it means taking unpopular courses of action or offending powerful groups. The Profile in Courage Award honors modern-day elected officials who govern for the greater good, even when it is not in their own interest to do so. The award celebrates individuals who choose the public interest over partisanship – who do what is right, rather than what is expedient.

Award Criteria

  • Ordinarily, the award will be made to living Americans who are or were elected officials.
  • Individuals at all levels of government—federal, state and local—are eligible for the award.
  • Emphasis will be placed on contemporary acts of political courage.
  • On occasion, in rare and special circumstances, awards have been made to foreign officials.

2001 Profile in Courage Award recipient President Gerald Ford

2001 Profile in Courage Award recipient President Gerald Ford with Senator Edward M. Kennedy, May 21, 2001.

President Gerald Ford receives 2000 Profile in Courage Award from Senator Edward M. Kennedy.