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The Profile in Courage Award is a private award given to recognize displays of courage similar to those John F. Kennedy described in his book of the same name. It is given to individuals (often elected officials) who, by acting in accord with their conscience, risked their careers or lives by pursuing a larger vision of the national, state or local interest in opposition to popular opinion or pressure from constituents or other local interests.
The winners of the award are selected by a bi-partisan committee named by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, which includes members of the Kennedy family and other prominent Americans. It is generally awarded each year around the time of Kennedy's birthday (May 29) at a ceremony at the Kennedy Library in Boston. The award is generally presented by Kennedy's daughter, Caroline. Also before their deaths, other presenters had included Kennedy's brother, Ted, son John Jr., and wife Jacqueline.
The winner is presented with a sterling silver lantern made by Tiffany's which was designed by Edwin Schlossberg. The lantern is patterned after the lanterns on USS Constitution, the last sail-powered ship to remain part of the US Navy, which is permanently moored nearby.
|1990||Carl Elliott, Sr.||Former U.S. representative (Alabama)||For working to enact civil rights laws and the National Defense Education Act of 1958 (Hill-Elliott Act), which "made him the target of vicious criticism from reactionaries of both parties" and caused his ouster from Congress in 1964.||Henry Bellmon, Unita Blackwell, LeRoy Collins, Morris K. Udall|
|1991||Charles Weltner||Former U.S. representative (Georgia)||For his decision to drop out of his race for reelection to a third term, rather than seek reelection and be bound by a party loyalty oath to support the candidacy of segregationist Lester Maddox.||Frank P. Graham, George M. Michaels, Nicholas C. Wasicsko|
|1992||Lowell P. Weicker Jr.||U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, and the 85th Governor of Connecticut.||For proposing, as governor of Connecticut, a budget that included the introduction of an unpopular state personal income tax and major spending cuts in order to address Connecticut's financial crisis.|
|1993||James Florio||Governor of New Jersey (1990-1994); U.S. representative (1975-1990)|
|1994||Henry Gonzalez||U.S. representative (Texas) (1961-1999)|
|1995||Michael Synar||U.S. representative (Oklahoma)|
|1996||Corkin Cherubini||School superintendent||Efforts to rectify civil rights abuses in his small southern school district|
|1997||Judge Charles Price||A judge for Circuit 15 in Montgomery County, Alabama. He served as a judge for the court from 1983 until his retirement from the bench on January 16, 2015.|
|1998||Nickolas C. Murnion||A judge on the 16th Judicial District Court in Montana.|
|"Peacemakers of Northern Ireland"||Negotiators and signatories of the Good Friday Agreement.||Awarded to the negotiators and signatories of the Good Friday Agreement, "in recognition of the extraordinary political courage they demonstrated." Presented to John Hume, Gerry Adams, John Alderdice, Malachi Curran, David Ervine, Gary McMichael, Monica McWilliams, David Trimble, and George J. Mitchell.|
|1999||Russell Feingold||U.S. Senator (Wisconsin) (1993-2011); Wisconsin State Senator (27th District) (1983-1993).|
|John McCain||U.S. Senator (Arizona); Republican nominee in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.|
|2000||Hilda Solis||Member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for the 1st district; United States Secretary of Labor (2009-2013) during the Obama administration; U.S. Representative (2001-2009)|
(Lifetime Achievement Award)
|An American politician and civil rights leader. He is the U.S. Representative for Georgia's 5th congressional district, serving since 1987, and is the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. His district includes three quarters of Atlanta.|
|Gerald Ford||38th President of the United States||For his controversial pardon of Richard Nixon, which arguably cost him the 1976 election.|
|2002||Kofi Annan||A Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006. Annan and the UN were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. He is the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, as well as chairman of The Elders, an international organization founded by Nelson Mandela.|
|Dean Koldenhoven||Former mayor of Palos Heights, Illinois||Political courage in speaking out against religious discrimination and calling for tolerance within his community.|
|"Public Servants of September 11"||Representatives of NYPD, the FDNY, and the military||Risked their lives on September 11, 2001 attacks|
|2003||Dan Ponder, Jr.||He was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives from 1997 to 2000. He is a member of the Republican party. In 2003, he received the Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. He was elected mayor of Donalsonville, Georgia in 2013.||Took a contentious stand in favor of hate-crimes legislation in Georgia, which may have cost him his seat in the state House.|
|David Beasley||Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Programme. Beasley served one term as the 113th Governor of South Carolina from 1995 until 1999, as a member of the Republican Party.||For his efforts to remove the Confederate battle flag from atop the state capitol.|
|Roy Barnes||Governor of Georgia (1999-2003).||For his efforts to minimize the Confederate battle emblem on Georgia's state flag.|
|2004||Sima Samar||A well known woman’s and human rights advocate, activist and a social worker within national and international forums, who served as Minister of Women's Affairs of Afghanistan from December 2001 to 2003.|
|Cindy Watson||Former North Carolina State Representative|
|Paul Muegge||State Senator|
|2005||Joseph Darby||The whistleblower in the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal.|
|Shirley Franklin||Mayor of Atlanta (2002-2010)|
|Bill Ratliff||Texas State Senator (1988-2004)|
|Victor Yushchenko||Third President of Ukraine (2005-2010)|
|2006||Alberto J. Mora||A former General Counsel of the Navy||Led an effort within the Defense Department to oppose the legal theories of John Yoo and to try to end coercive interrogation tactics at Guantanamo Bay, which he argued are unlawful.|
|John Murtha||U.S. representative (Pennsylvania)|
|2007||Bill White||Mayor of Houston (2004-2010)||"Mayor White’s quick actions in welcoming thousands of families displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita most certainly helped to save lives." |
|Doris Voitier||Superintendent of Schools, St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana||"Despite insurmountable odds, Doris Voitier rebuilt the schools of St. Bernard Parish [after Hurricane Katrina], making sure the children of her community had a place to learn and grow when they returned home."|
|2008||Jennifer Brunner||Ohio Secretary of State|
|Debra Bowen||Secretary of State of California (2007-2015); member of the California State Legislature (1992-2006)|
(Lifetime Achievement Award)
|Governor of Mississippi (1980-1984)|
|2009||Edward M. Kennedy||U.S. Senator (Massachusetts)|
|Brooksley Born||Chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (1996-99)|
|Sheila Bair||19th Chair of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), during which time she assumed a prominent role in the government's response to the 2008 financial crisis. She was appointed to the post for a five-year term on June 26, 2006 by George W. Bush.|
|Leymah Gbowee and the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace||Helped bring an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003.|
|2010||Karen Bass||Bass represented the 47th district in the California State Assembly 2004–2010, and was Speaker of the California State Assembly 2008–2010 (second woman, third African American speaker).|
|Dave Cogdill||Republican politician who served as a State Senator from California's 14th State Senate district from December 2006 to December 2010.|
|Darrell Steinberg||A member of the California State Senate representing the 6th District. He had also previously served as a member of the California State Assembly (1998–2004) and as a member of the Sacramento City Council (1992–1998). He is a member of the Democratic Party.|
|Michael Villines||Former California State Assemblyman, who served from 2004 to 2010 representing the 29th district.|
|2011||Elizabeth Redenbaugh||School Board Member, New Hanover County, North Carolina||For her actions, as a member of North Carolina's New Hanover County School Board "against what she perceived as racial segregation in school redistricting plans."|
|Wael Ghonim and the People of Egypt||"presented to Wael Ghonim in honor of all Egyptians who stood up, at great personal risk, for the principles of democracy and self-governance" in the Egyptian revolution of 2011.|
|2012||Marsha K. Ternus, David L. Baker, and Michael J. Streit||Justices of the Iowa Supreme Court||"[I]n recognition of the political courage and judicial independence each demonstrated in setting aside popular opinion to uphold the basic freedoms and security guaranteed to all citizens under the Iowa constitution." The justices joined the unanimous Iowa Supreme Court ruling, Varnum v. Brien, that legally recognized same-sex marriage in Iowa; "[a]lthough the Court’s decision was unanimous, it provoked a political backlash. In November 2010, voters removed Ternus, Baker and Streit from office following an unprecedented campaign financed in part by national interest groups opposed to same-sex marriage."|
|Robert S. Ford||Diplomat; United States Ambassador to Algeria (2006-2008); United States Ambassador to Syria (2010-2014)||For "bold and courageous diplomacy" that "provided crucial support to Syrians struggling under the brutal regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad."|
|2013||Gabrielle Giffords||Former U.S. Representative for Arizona's 8th congressional district (2007-2012)||"[I]n recognition of the political, personal, and physical courage she has demonstrated in her fearless public advocacy for policy reforms aimed at reducing gun violence." Giffords survived an assassination attempt that left her with a severe brain injury.|
|2014||George H. W. Bush||41st President of the United States||"[I]n recognition of the political courage he demonstrated when he agreed to a 1990 budget compromise that reversed his 1988 campaign pledge not to raise taxes and put his re-election prospects at risk."|
|Paul W. Bridges||Mayor of Uvalda, Georgia||"[F]or risking his mayoral career with his decision to publicly oppose a controversial immigration law in Georgia" (H.B. 87). Bridges joined a federal lawsuit filed by the ACLU to stop the implementation of the law.|
|2015||Bob Inglis||Former U.S. Representative for South Carolina's 4th congressional district (1993-1999; 2005-2011)||"[F]or the courage he demonstrated when reversing his position on climate change after extensive briefings with scientists, and discussions with his children, about the impact of atmospheric warming on our future. Knowing the potential consequences to his political career, Inglis nevertheless called on the United States to meaningfully address the issue."|
|2016||Dan Malloy||Governor of Connecticut (2011-2019)||For "courageously defend[ing] the U.S. resettlement of Syrian refugees and personally welcom[ing] a family of Syrian refugees to New Haven after they had been turned away by another state."|
|2017||Barack Obama||44th President of the United States||"[F]or his enduring commitment to democratic ideals and elevating the standard of political courage in a new century."|
|2018||Mitch Landrieu||Mayor of New Orleans||"[F]or his leadership in removing four Confederate monuments in New Orleans while offering candid, clear and compassionate reflections on the moment and its place in history."\|
|2019||Nancy Pelosi||Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives|
- Award Recipients: Carl Elliott, Sr. (1990), John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
- Award Announcement: Carl Elliott, Sr. (1990), John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
- Award Recipients: Charles Weltner (1991), John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
- Award Announcement: Charles Weltner, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
- Background: Lowell Weicker, Jr., John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
- Background: Peacemakers of Northern Ireland, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
- Robillard, Kevin (May 14, 2015). "Feingold running for Wisconsin Senate". Politico. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
- Nelson, James (February 4, 2016). "Sen. Ron Johnson claims Russ Feingold is a career politician". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. PolitiFact. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
- "Kofi Annan - Biographical". www.nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2016-09-12.
- Annan, Kofi. "The Nobel Peace Prize 2001". nobelprize.org. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
- "Kofi Annan | Ghanaian statesman and secretary-general of the United Nations". Retrieved 2016-09-12.
- "Ga House - Hon. Dan E. Ponder, Jr. (GA SH 160)". ga.gov. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- "Dan Ponder, Jr". jfklibrary.org. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- "Donalsonville News, Mayor-elect Ponder's plan of action". Donalsonville News. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- "Ponder wins Donalsonville mayor's race by three votes - www.millercountyliberal.com - Miller County Liberal". millercountyliberal.com. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
- Cook, James F. (2005). The Governors of Georgia, 1754-2004, 3rd Edition, Revised and Expanded. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.
- Bill Ratliff Archived September 2, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, Texas State Politics, University of Texas
- Bill White - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum
- Doris Voitier - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum
- "FDIC: Board of Directors & Senior Executives". Fdic.gov. Archived from the original on 2010-11-23. Retrieved 2010-10-17.
- 2012 JFK Profile in Courage Award Winners Announced (March 12, 2012).
- Gordon, Michael R. (February 28, 2014). "American Envoy to Syria Steps Down". The New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
- Former U.S. Congressman Bob Inglis to Receive JFK Profile in Courage Award for Stance on Climate Change
- Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy Announced as Recipient of the 2016 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for Stand on Syrian Refugee Resettlement (April 4, 2016).
- Former President Barack H. Obama Announced as Recipient of 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award
- News Release: New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to Receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for Removal of Confederate Monument, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.