U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Receive the 2019 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award

April 7, 2019
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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Receive the 2019 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award

Boston MA – The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation today announced that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will receive the 2019 Profile in Courage Award. She will be recognized for putting the national interest above her party's interest to expand access to health care for all Americans and then, against a wave of political attacks, leading the effort to retake the majority and elect the most diverse Congress in our nation's history. Pelosi, the first woman ever to serve as Speaker of the House, will be presented the award by Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and her son, Jack Schlossberg, at a ceremony on May 19, 2019 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.

“Speaker Pelosi leads with strength, integrity and grace under pressure – using her power to protect the most vulnerable of our citizens,” said Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, honorary president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. “She is the most important woman in American political history and is a true Profile in Courage.”

“Nancy Pelosi has the courage to govern responsibly, doing the hard work required to make real progress on critical issues, such as healthcare,” said Schlossberg, a member of the Profile in Courage Award Committee. "She sets a powerful example for a new generation of public servants, proving that politics can still be a noble profession.”

“It is a great personal and official honor to receive the Profile in Courage Award, which stands as a powerful testament to the extraordinary legacy and leadership of President Kennedy,” said Speaker Pelosi.  “At President Kennedy’s inauguration, I was blessed to hear him speak of ‘the energy, the faith, the devotion…that will light our country and all who serve it – and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.’  It is inspiring that the award itself is a lantern, a manifestation of that light. That energy, faith and fire have inspired my work in the Congress and as Speaker, and it is my hope that my receiving this award will encourage others to pursue public service, and lead with courage, conviction and conscience.”

In 2010, amid a public climate of deepening polarization, Pelosi tirelessly spearheaded the passage of the Affordable Care Act. The ACA has subsequently enabled millions of Americans to have access to quality, affordable health care, and improved benefits for tens of millions more; it was the most significant expansion of health care access since the implementation of Medicare and Medicaid nearly half a century before. Following its passage, Pelosi became the subject of negative political attacks from the GOP. Democrats lost control of the House in November 2010, ending her first tenure as House Speaker.

Despite facing opposition, Pelosi Illustrated her persistence and determination, as she set out to rebuild the Democratic Party in the image of America. In 2018, she led Democrats in electing the most diverse Congress in U.S. history – more people of color, more LGBT Americans, and a record setting 35 new Democratic women – including the first native American women and Muslim American women. With Democrats back in the majority, Pelosi elevated a new generation of leaders to leadership positions and skillfully united her party focusing on shared values, policy priorities, and a commitment to governing for the greater good. On January 3, 2019, Pelosi was once again elected Speaker of the House, becoming the first speaker in more than 60 years to win nonconsecutive terms.

In her extraordinary tenure as House Speaker, Pelosi has secured the passage of landmark legislation to expand access to health care, make historic investments in renewable energy resources, improve access to education, reform the financial services industry, and repeal the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that that barred gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military.

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation created the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award™ in 1989 to honor President Kennedy’s commitment and contribution to public service, and to celebrate his May 29th birthday. The award is presented annually to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences. The award is named for President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, which recounts the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers, incurring the wrath of constituents or powerful interest groups, by taking principled stands for unpopular positions.

The Profile in Courage Award is represented by a sterling-silver lantern symbolizing a beacon of hope. The lantern was designed by Edwin Schlossberg and crafted by Tiffany & Co. Previous recipients include former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama, Gerald Ford, and George H. W. Bush; former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords; U.S. Senator John McCain; Liberian peace activist and Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee; U.S. Representative John Lewis; and former California State Senator and U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

The recipients of this prestigious award for political courage are selected by a distinguished bipartisan committee of national, political, and community leaders. Martha Minow, 300th Anniversary University Professor, Harvard University, former dean, Harvard Law School chairs the 15-member committee. Committee members are David Axelrod, Political Strategist and Founder the Institute of Politics at The University of Chicago; Joaquin Castro, Congressman, (D-TX 20th District); Christopher Dodd, Senior Counsel for Arnold & Porter, former U.S. Senator (D-Connecticut); former U.S. Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-Maryland); Adam Frankel, Vice President, Corporate and Executive Communications at PepsiCo, former Speechwriter to President Barack Obama; Kenneth Frazier, Chairman and CEO of Merck & Co.; Albert R. Hunt, journalist, formerly a columnist for Bloomberg View; Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; Bob Inglis, (R-South Carolina), former U.S. Congressman and Profile in Courage Award Honoree; Caroline Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan and Honorary President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; Marne Levine, VP of Global Partnerships and Business Development at Facebook; Ronald L. Sargent, Chairman, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; Jack Schlossberg, Grandson of President Kennedy; David Shribman, former Executive Editor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; and Nicolle Wallace, Anchor of MSNBC’s Deadline: White House.

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization founded in 1984 to provide financial support, staffing, and creative resources for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. The Kennedy Presidential Library and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history, and culture, the process of governing and the importance of public service.

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