People to People International Offers STEM Focused Iceland Trip to Congressional Award Participants

Washington, DC (December 10, 2019) — The Congressional Award Foundation and People to People International have partnered to send participants on the adventure of a lifetime next summer.

The Congressional Award Foundation has worked with partners like People to People International through the STEM Stars Initiative to make STEM more accessible to students. This effort has resulted in 84,103 hours of STEM activities among Congressional Award participants, and has doubled in participation in the last 12 months.

This student travel program is offered exclusively for youth who are registered for The Congressional Award and at least 16 years of age on the date of departure.

The trip will take place from July 28 – August 04, 2020 and will be anchored in the capital city of Reykjavik, visiting exciting destinations like the Fridheimar Greenhouse, Eyjafjallajökull volcano, Deildartunguhver thermal spring, Blue Lagoon, and whale and puffin watching along the Icelandic shore.

View the itinerary and book your trip through People to People International. Direct questions to Nicole Randall at (816) 531-4701 or nicolerandall@ptpi.org.

About The Congressional Award
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

About People to People International
In 1956, the People to People International Foundation was created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower with a mission to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural, and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences between people of diverse cultures. Learn more at www.ptpi.org.

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Southern California Student Leaders Earn Congress’ Award for Youth

Yorba Linda, CA (November 14, 2019) — On Saturday, November 9, 2019, The Congressional Award Southern California Ceremony presented by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. recognized nearly 200 student leaders for personal goal-setting and acts of citizenship.

U.S. Representatives Judy Chu (CA-27), Gil Cisneros (CA-39), and Katie Porter (CA-45) presented the awards on behalf of the United States Congress at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California.

U.S. Representatives Chu and Porter present The Congressional Award Silver Medal to Thomas Williamson of Anaheim Hills.

“It is my privilege to honor these incredible youth with The Congressional Award, the highest award for youth legislated and presented by the United States Congress,” said Congresswoman Judy Chu. “In order to qualify, these honorees have volunteered their time to achieve goals in public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration. I have been so impressed by the creativity and care demonstrated by these young people. Their devotion to success is a benefit to our entire area, and an example to others. Congratulations!”

The event was made possible by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., who served as the Title Sponsor. On a journey of creativity and innovation for more than 95 years, the San Francisco based global pharmaceutical business has not only discovered and developed treatments for complex medical conditions – but made a deliberate effort to engage youth in local communities.

Congressman Cisneros delivers remarks the recipients and guests.

Congressman Cisneros delivers remarks the recipients and guests.“I want to congratulate all 22 recipients of The Congressional Award for California’s 39th district,” said Congressman Gil Cisneros. “I am constantly impressed by the abundance of talented youth in our community. Their unwavering commitment to improving themselves and others around them is truly inspiring. The Congressional Award program has challenged our youth, and it is great to see CA-39 students answering the call and not only exceeding, but demonstrating that they will be future leaders. It was a privilege to recognize each of the awardees accomplishments and join their families in celebration.”

The ceremony also borrowed the talents of FOX 5 San Diego’s Chris Murphy as master of ceremonies.

After the ceremony, recipients and guests were able to tour the presidential library and museum.

“As a UC Irvine professor, I’ve witnessed up close and personal the tenacity and compassion of young people in our community,” Congresswoman Katie Porter said. “I was proud to recognize the accomplishments of the 187 Congressional Award recipients from Southern California, and I look forward to seeing what they’ll accomplish in the future.”

Congressional Awardees receive recognition for their accomplishment.

Congressional Awardees receive recognition for their accomplishment.California ranks number one in both the number of enrolled participants and Congressional Awards earned annually. The Golden State’s 24th-53rd congressional districts have produced 7,431 awardees all-time. There are currently 6,535 participants pursuing the award in the region. The 187 Congressional Award Medalists honored this year contributed 38,749 hours of voluntary public service to their communities.

Download the program for event details and full recipient list.

About
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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Atrium Health’s Jim Dunn Brings Expertise in Culture, Diversity and Inclusion to Congressional Award Board of Directors

Washington, DC (November 5, 2019) — Elected to The Congressional Award Foundation’s National Board of Directors in June 2019, Jim Dunn has since helped steer the organization’s recruitment strategy and participant engagement by focusing on inclusion and creating content that inspires.

Jim Dunn, PhD, DHA, DAST, FACHE, currently serves as Executive Vice President and System Chief Human Resources Officer for Atrium Health, one of the most comprehensive and highly integrated not-for-profit healthcare systems in the nation. As a member of the executive leadership team, Dunn leads teams that focus on the engagement of Atrium Health teammates – from recruitment through retirement.

“I am thrilled and honored to have been selected to serve on The Congressional Award Foundation Board as the U.S. Congress’ only charity and award program for youth,” said Dunn. “Its mission of recognizing initiative, service, and overall achievement aligns with both Atrium Health’s mission of health, hope and healing for all but also my own personal passion of developing future generations of workforce leaders.”

Dunn is revered as a national expert in culture, diversity and inclusion, and the employee experience.

Prior to joining Atrium Health in April 2018, Jim served as Executive Vice President and Chief Talent Officer for Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, Texas, Human Resources and Learning Executive for the Cleveland Clinic, Chief Learning Officer for Texas Health Resources, and National Vice President of Human Resources and Talent Retention Strategies for the American Cancer Society.

His work history also includes progressively responsible roles as a research scientist with the Georgia Tech Research Institute and leading the global human resources operations for former President Jimmy Carter at the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta.

Among his notable achievements, Dunn has received the Outstanding Business Leader Award from the Dallas Business Journal, the South Dallas Outstanding Leader Award, and the Global Strategic HR and OD Award from the Organizational Development Institute for his work on informal cultures. He also was named among the 2018 Most Influential African-Americans in Corporate America by Savoy Magazine.

Dunn holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and macro-environmental science from Howard University, a master’s degree in business administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a Master of Public Health degree in occupational health from Emory University. Additionally, he holds multiple doctoral degrees in education, organizational development, and healthcare administration from Emory University, Benedictine University, and the Medical University of South Carolina, respectively.

He has served as adjunct and distinguished faculty for multiple universities including the Harvard School of Public Health, MIT Sloan School of Management, Morehouse School of Medicine, Emory University, University of Chicago and the University of Texas at Dallas.

He is also a state registered professional mediator, specializing in workplace conflict resolution strategies, and a fellow (FACHE) and faculty member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

About
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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Merrill Eisenhower Atwater, Vanessa Green Sinders Elected to Congressional Award Board of Directors

Washington, DC (October 24, 2019) —The Congressional Award Foundation announces the election of Merrill Eisenhower Atwater and Vanessa Green Sinders to the National Board of Directors, effective immediately.

“These additions to the Board of Directors truly bolster our already impressive team,” said Paxton K. Baker, Chairman of The Congressional Award National Board of Directors. “Merrill and Vanessa each bring unique skill sets from their respective industries and will play a vital role in shaping the future and direction of our organization.”

Merrill Eisenhower Atwater is the Chief Executive Officer of People to People International. Since assuming this role in 2018, he has conducted a campaign of global partnership and understanding.

As both a globally and locally recognized influential leader, Merrill has been recognized with numerous honors and awards. He was recently chosen as the Honorary Ambassador to Chuncheon City in South Korea, was recognized nationally by the Federal Aviation Administration for his work in Kansas Aviation with the Impact Award, and was also included in Business Magazine, Ingram’s 40 Under 40.

Before joining People to People International, he served as the Director of Aviation for the state of Kansas and held numerous successful positions conducting international business and relations for global companies.

Merrill is the great-grandson of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and has been a long-term ambassador for The Congressional Award Foundation.

Vanessa Green Sinders is the Senior Vice President for Federal Legislative Affairs at Charter Communications.

In this role, she is responsible for directing the company’s strategic policy and political engagement with Congress and the Administration.

Previously, Vanessa served as the Senior Vice President and Department Head for Government Affairs at the American Hotel and Lodging Association and Chief of Staff for the Campaign to Fix the Debt.

Additionally, Vanessa spent almost ten years working in the U.S. Senate where she served as Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Scott Brown and Policy Director for U.S. Senator Judd Gregg.

Learn more about Merrill and Vanessa here.

About
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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Remembering Elijah Cummings

October 17, 2019 (Washington, DC) – Today we mourn the loss of an American patriot, long term Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings.

A Baltimore native, Congressman Cummings was an attorney and civil rights advocate who served in Maryland’s state legislature before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996. Most recently, Cummings served as Chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Left to Right: Chairman Paxton Baker, Gold Medalist Veronica Wheelan, Congressman Elijah Cummings. June 2013

Rep. Cummings will forever be remembered as a model public servant. He dedicated his life to uplifting and empowering the community he represented.

It was our privilege to work with Congressman Cummings in recognizing Maryland youth with The Congressional Award for several decades. As his official biography stated, “Congressman Cummings often says that our children are the living messages that we send to a future we will never see.”

Congressman Cummings entertains the crowd before he presents the Horizon Award to fellow Baltimore native and American record executive Kevin Liles. June 2014

Our condolences are with the Cummings family and his wide-reaching band of supporters during this time of grieving.

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Reps. Malinowski, Payne, Jr. Honor New Jersey Youth with The Congressional Award

Summit, NJ (September 26, 2019) — Nearly 100 New Jersey student leaders were recognized by Congress for their personal goal setting and community service at a statewide Congressional Award ceremony held on Saturday, September 21, 2019.

U.S. Representatives Tom Malinowski (NJ-07) and Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10) presented the awards on behalf of Congress.

“I want to congratulate all 98 recipients of The Congressional Award for New Jersey,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “I was excited to give our youth such a prestigious honor. I know it was not easy to earn. But they showed tremendous character in their commitment to the goals they set for the program. I am very proud of them and look forward to being part of the ceremony again next year.”

Congressman Malinowksi assured guests that the future was in good hands with these students assuming leadership roles. “This country belongs to you, the young people. And it’s up to you to make it better. And that’s what you all have done – you’ve decided you must step up and do something.”

Anesha Santhanam of Edison, NJ receives the Silver Medal from U.S. Representatives Payne, Jr. and Malinowski and Celgene’s Patrick Gliha and Rich Bagger.

The event was made possible by Celgene Corporation, who once again served as the Title Sponsor and host venue. The global biopharmaceutical company has become a perennial partner of Congress’ award program for youth by supporting the development of the program both locally and nationally.

Celgene’s Rich Bagger, Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs & Market Access, and Patrick Gliha, Senior Director of State Government Relations and a member of The Congressional Award’s Board of Directors, were on hand to congratulate this year’s honorees.

The ceremony borrowed the talents of WABC-TV journalist Anthony Johnson as master of ceremonies.

Attendees look on as Congressman Payne, Jr. delivers his remarks.

New Jersey remains one of the most active states in The Congressional Award’s national portfolio, ranking within the top ten states in both the number of enrolled participants and number of awards earned. The Garden State has produced 6,622 awardees all-time. There are currently 4,563 participants pursuing the award. The 98 New Jersey Congressional Award Medalists being honored this year have contributed 22,634 hours of voluntary public service to their communities.

Learn more about this year’s recipients with the ceremony program and photo gallery.

About
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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Gary Payton Selected as Horizon Award Recipient

Washington, DC (September 17, 2019) — Congress will honor former NBA player Gary Payton with the Horizon Award at The Congressional Award Foundation’s 25th Annual Golf Classic on September 23, 2019.


Embraced as one of the most prolific point guards of all time, Gary Payton played 17 seasons in the NBA for the Seattle Super Sonics, Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat. Nicknamed “The Glove,” Payton remains the only point guard to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.

Payton is a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (1996, 2000), NBA Champion (2006), nine-time NBA All-Star, NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1996), and was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

While his accolades on the court are enough to cement a storied legacy, Payton believes his biggest accomplishment is yet to come.

A passion and responsibility for helping at-risk youth reach their potential is what now drives Payton. Through several charitable contributions, Gary has become a force for good for the people in the very streets where his humble beginnings began. He has made it his mission to help every child receive the equal access to education and opportunity.

Much of Gary’s humanitarian efforts have been rooted in his native Oakland, California.

He set up The Gary Payton Foundation in 1996 to provide safe places for recreational activity, and to help underprivileged youth stay in school. In 2001, Mr. Payton made a personal commitment to renovate the gym of the East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC), a youth center he attended as a child. And most recently he has given back to his high school alma mater’s basketball program.

As an active player, Gary made an impact in each community where he resided. He has volunteered and offered financial support to important youth service organizations like the Ronald McDonald House, Boys & Girls Club of America and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

He authored Confidence Counts in 1999, an autobiographical children’s book illustrating the importance of self-confidence through events in his own life.

“Gary will forever be known as one of the most complete guards the game of basketball has ever seen. After hanging up his jersey he has since made the case that he is an even more complete man – one of character, integrity, and altruism. On behalf of The Congressional Award Foundation, I am proud to recognize Mr. Payton’s community involvement and creation of opportunities for our nation’s youth to thrive,” said Paxton Baker, Chairman of The Congressional Award National Board of Directors.


The Horizon Award
A special recognition from the Joint Leadership Commission of The Congressional Award Foundation and its Board of Directors, the Horizon Award recognizes individuals from the private sector who have worked to expand opportunities for all Americans through their own personal contributions.

Previous recipients include personalities like Drew Brees, America Ferrera, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Bob Lanier, Wynton Marsalis, Curtis Martin, Gail Miller, Cal Ripken, Jr., Pat and Emmitt Smith, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

About
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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North Carolina Student Leaders Recognized by Congress for Goalsetting and Volunteer Efforts

Concord, NC (August 12, 2019) — Today, U.S. Representatives Alma Adams (NC-12) and Richard Hudson (NC-08) co-hosted the 2019 North Carolina Congressional Award Ceremony.

65 youth from across the state were presented with The Congressional Award, Congress’ highest honor for youth. Each recipient challenged themselves personally and engaged with their communities by setting goals in four program areas – Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.

Collectively, the students contributed a staggering 14,556 hours of volunteerism to communities near and far.

Congresswoman Adams and Congressman Hudson presented the awards on behalf of the United States Congress and lauded the recipients for taking initiative and considering others in their decision-making.

“As a member of The Congressional Award’s Board of Directors, I am proud to celebrate our state’s youth and their incredible achievements,” said Congressman Richard Hudson. “I was honored to help recognize and congratulate these young men and women for their success and service to our community. They are the leaders of tomorrow.”

“It is my honor and privilege to present The Congressional Award to the promising young North Carolinians who earned this recognition in 2019,” said Congresswoman Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. “Each of these young leaders’ dedication to personal development and public service is positively impacting communities across North Carolina. It is because of committed young people like this year’s award recipients that I know the future of our democracy is bright.”

The event was made possible by the generosity and leadership of Smithfield Foods, Inc., a global consumer packaged goods and protein company that employs more than 10,000 individuals throughout North Carolina. Smithfield has been involved with The Congressional Award since 2015, and returns this year as the Title Sponsor of the 2019 North Carolina Congressional Award Ceremony. The company maintains a robust sustainability program that includes a dedicated focus on supporting the communities where its employees live and work through engagement, volunteerism, and financial support.

“Smithfield Foods’ ongoing support of The Congressional Award reflects our commitment to the same values that the Award upholds,” said Mike Skahill, Vice President of Government Affairs at Smithfield Foods and Congressional Award Foundation board member. “Each of the Congressional Award recipients dedicates themselves in service to their local communities, a parallel to the importance we place on supporting our neighbors in the communities we call home. We are proud to support all of these efforts that help build a stronger tomorrow for everyone.”

Charlotte Motor Speedway served as the host venue and granted awardees and guests special access to facilities, including The Speedway Club and racetrack.

Aric Almirola, NASCAR driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing, served as keynote speaker and local WSOC-TV Anchor Allison Latos volunteered her time as emcee.

North Carolina remains one of the most dynamic states in The Congressional Award’s portfolio, with the Charlotte metropolitan area ranking in the top 10 fastest growing regions. The Tar Heel State has produced 2,128 awardees all-time and there are currently 2,369 participants pursuing the award.

The ceremony program and list of Congressional Award recipients can be found here.

About The Congressional Award
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

About Smithfield Foods
Smithfield Foods is a $15 billion global food company and the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including Smithfield®, Eckrich®, Nathan’s Famous®, Farmland®, Armour®, Farmer John®, Kretschmar®, John Morrell®, Cook’s®, Gwaltney®, Carando®, Margherita®, Curly’s®, Healthy Ones®, Morliny®, Krakus®, and Berlinki®. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com and connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

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The Congressional Award Welcomes New Board Members

Washington, DC (July 11, 2019) —The Congressional Award Foundation is pleased to announce the election of Jim Dunn and Mike Kelley to the National Board of Directors and Skip Braziel, Sanyin Siang, and Bruce Walker to the Advisory Board of Directors.

“These individuals bring a wealth of experience in their fields and will be tremendous assets to our Foundation as we further our mission of recognizing youth achievement across the nation,” said Paxton K. Baker, Chairman of The Congressional Award National Board of Directors.

Skip Braziel is Vice President of State Regulation and Legislation for the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). He oversees state legislative and regulatory advocacy and leads a team of government relations professionals providing strategic and tactical support to state CPA societies.

Skip has over 20 years of experience advocating, coalition building, and problem solving.

Prior to AICPA, Skip served as Assistant Vice President, State Government Relations for MetLife and Vice President and Community Relationship Officer at JPMorgan Chase in Chicago.

Jim Dunn, PhD, DHA, FACHE is Executive Vice President and System Chief Human Resources Officer for Atrium Health, one of the most comprehensive and highly integrated not-for-profit healthcare systems in the nation.

Dunn is a national expert in culture, diversity and inclusion, and the employee experience.

Previously, Dunn served as Executive Vice President and Chief Talent Officer for Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, Texas; Human Resources and Learning Executive for the Cleveland Clinic; Chief Learning Officer for Texas Health Resources; and National Vice President of Human Resources and Talent Retention Strategies for the American Cancer Society.

Mike Kelley serves as Vice President – External Affairs for YRC Worldwide. He is responsible for the promotion and protection of YRCW interests before trade associations and with legislative and regulatory officials at the local, state, and federal level.

His experience includes positions at the Kansas Motor Carriers Association and the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate as a Congressional Aide. He has served in several leadership positions with the American Trucking Associations including chairing three different policy committees and co-chairing two industry task forces.

Sanyin Siang is the founding Executive Director of the Coach K Leadership and Ethics Center (COLE) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and a professor at its Pratt School of Engineering.

The COLE center is a leadership laboratory with programming for all of Duke’s Daytime MBA students and convenes think tank gatherings across sectors to explore today’s complex leadership challenges and create positive societal impact.

Sanyin’s mission in life is to enable greatness in others as an educator, parent, mentor, author, CEO coach, and advisor.

Bruce Walker serves as Associate Director – Television & Entertainment Division for the D.C. Office of Cable Television, Film, Music & Entertainment. Under the direction of the Mayor’s office, the agency serves as the media platform for government agencies and community awareness.

Mr. Walker is a talented senior level executive who began his career at Motown Records and rose quickly to become Senior Vice President of Artists & Repertoire and General Manager of its jazz label MoJazz.

Bruce helped in the expansion of DreamWorks SKG’s music division as General Manager, executive produced the first BET Awards Red Carpet special, and eventually co-founded his own production company, B-Sharp Records and Entertainment.

Learn more about the Board of Directors here.

About
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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538 Students Presented with Congress’ Most Prestigious Honor for Youth

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 28, 2019
Washington, DC

For reporters working on national stories and/or members of TV, radio, new media broadcasting:
Martine Charles
(206) 295-9114
martine@marcglobalcommunications.com

Sharon Liggins
(818) 207-5027
sharon.liggins@gmail.com

For reporters working on local stories, partner organization/congressional staff inquiries, or general information:
Derek Doyle
(301) 676-3882
doyle@congressionalaward.org

If you are not a member of the media but would like to learn more, please use the Contact Us page.


Humbling. Inspirational. Optimistic. These are words not always found buzzing around Capitol Hill. But the 2019 Congressional Award Gold Medal Ceremony & Events held on June 19-21 in Washington, D.C. sparked enthusiasm for our nation’s future and ushered in the next generation of servant leaders.

Congress presented The Congressional Award Gold Medal to 538 youth this year, the largest class in the program’s 40-year history. Spanning 42 U.S. states and territories and 181 congressional districts, Gold Medalists contributed 295,206 volunteer hours to their communities, an average of 548 hours per medalist.

The Gold Medal represents the pinnacle of Congress’ award program for youth. The honor requires that each recipient embark on a two year goal-setting journey, logging a minimum of 400 hours of Voluntary Public Service, 200 hours of Personal Development and Physical Fitness, respectively, and a 5 day, 4-night Expedition/Exploration.

Gold Medalist Kamin Bond sports his newly minted Gold Medal.

The multi-day celebration kicked off on Wednesday, June 19th with an early check-in and networking event in the Rayburn House Office Building. Gold Medalists were encouraged to interact with and learn more about their peers through enrichment activities.

Three award ceremonies were held throughout the day on Thursday, June 20th in the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center Congressional Auditorium. ABC News Congressional correspondent Mary Bruce, POLITICO senior Washington correspondent Anna Palmer, and CBS News national correspondent Chip Reid each served as Masters of Ceremonies.

The Presentation of Colors and National Anthem were given by the United States Capitol Police Ceremonial Unit. Invocations were provided by Reverend Patrick Conroy, Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives, and Dr. Barry Black, Chaplain of the United States Senate.

U.S. Senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee present the Horizon Award to Gail Miller.

The Congressional Award Foundation recognized Gail Miller, Owner of the Utah Jazz and Chairwoman of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, with the Horizon Award. The award recognizes humanitarian leaders in the private sector who have worked to expand opportunities for all Americans through their own personal contributions.

U.S. Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney presented the special recognition. “Gail is not only a pillar in our community, [but she is also] an example who serves with grace, and with commitment, and with personal strength,” stated Romney.

Miller issued inspiring remarks to this year’s youth recipients. “These experiences that you’ve had, coupled with your hard work, will serve you well for the rest of your life. The work you have done has provided you with opportunities to shape your own actions and determine your purpose in life.”

U.S. Representative Brian Mast with Inspiration Awardee Lynn Lyons and South Florida Gold Medalists.

Florida mentor and former Congressional Award Board Member Lynn Lyons was recognized with the Inspiration Award for her exemplary service in advising Congressional Award participants. Mrs. Lyons is a retired educator and has guided over 500 youth in Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties.

Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) presented the award and commended Lynn for her unparalleled mentorship. “We’re proud of these young men and women because they have already learned one of the most important lessons through this program [The Congressional Award] – how to live your life without regret. And Lynn gives them the drive to achieve and pursue something bigger and more important than themselves.”

Paxton Baker, Congressional Award Chairman; U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18); Gold Medalist Jana Sabri of Irving, TX; U.S. Representative John Carter (TX-31); U.S. Representative Bill Flores (TX-17).

Congressional Award Board Member Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) captured the selfless achievement of the Gold Medalists by saying, “The values of this organization emphasize that Americans can serve anywhere and everywhere. And all Americans can serve regardless of race, religion, or viewpoint.”

Over 70 Members of Congress attended the ceremony to present their constituents with the Gold Medal. Other Congressional speakers included Senator Richard Burr (NC), Senator Mike Enzi (WY), and Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-08).

U.S. Representative Ami Bera (CA-07) provides guidance and inspiration to students with ambitions of landing a career in a STEM field.

STEM Stars Reception
Following the Gold Medal Ceremony, guests made their way to the second annual STEM Stars Reception presented by Bayer in the historic Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate Office Building. The event honored the 196 youth who logged science, technology, engineering, and math activities in pursuit of their Gold Medal.

Bayer, the life science industry leader with more than 150 years of experience, was presented with the Corporate Commitment to America’s Youth Award for advancing STEM literacy among youth.

U.S. Representatives with a background in related fields presented the STEM Stars, including Senator Ron Wyden (OR) and Congressman Ami Bera (CA-07).

Bayer’s Ray Kerins emphasized the importance of educating and preparing students to become tomorrow’s leaders and innovators. “STEM continues to play a vital role in our nation’s economy and prosperity. We need to continue to inspire current and future youth generations to pursue STEM careers by helping them get access to the best resources and programs to succeed.”

Panel Discussions
The Congressional Award organized a series of expert panels on June 21st to compliment this year’s ceremony. Gold Medalists and guests heard from industry leaders on the most relevant and pressing issues facing society today. Each of the five panels offered not only valuable insight and inspiration but provided youth with an avenue to engage with their peers and ask questions from experienced professionals.

Set in the Member’s Room of the Library of Congress, A Lifetime of Service focused on the importance of extending volunteerism past the Gold Medal. The panel showcased non-profit organizations, national partners, professionals who have service-focused careers, and alumni who are making a difference in their communities.

Moderator: Jevin Hodge – LINK Strategic Partners
Gina Cross – AmeriCorps NCCC
Steve Culbertson – Youth Service America
Maura Fulton – Peace Corps
Javier LaFianza – HOBY

The Entrepreneurship panel took place in the Rayburn House Office Building. This discussion shared origin stories of business owners, investors, and executives.

Moderator: Sanyin Siang – COLE, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business
Michael Akin – LINK Strategic Partners
Mark Ein – Entrepreneur & Investor
Sandra Evers-Manly – Northrop Grumman
Cece Morken – Intuit
U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez (NY-07)

Hosted at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Empowering Women conversation illustrated how girls have the power to transform themselves, their communities, and the world around them.

Moderator: Jessica Grounds – Mine the Gap
Gina Adams – FedEx
U.S. Representative Abby Finkenauer (IA-01)
Susan Fisher Sterling – NMWA
Gail Miller – Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, Utah Jazz

The Travel with Purpose panel took place in the Rayburn House Office Building and challenged attendees to ignite their inner explorer. Conversation points ranged from traveling ethically to packing efficiently for long international trips.

Moderator: Angie Ange – Angie Ange in the Morning, College is Cool Inc.
Merrill Eisenhower Atwater – People to People International
Dr. Alex Cromwell – George Washington University
George Stone – National Geographic Travel

The Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy served as the host venue for the Sports, Health, and Wellness panel. This conversation illustrated the variety of careers in the world of sports.

Moderators: Tommy McFly and Kelly Collis – The Tommy Show
John Bramlette – Washington Nationals Dream Foundation
Derrick Dockery – Former NFL Player
Pops Mensah-Bonsu – Capital City Go-Go
Tanya Vogel – George Washington University – Athletics

Day at the Ballpark
Capping off the celebration, the Washington Nationals hosted Congressional Award Gold Medalists at Nationals Park on June 21st for a memorable day.

Gold Medalists took a photo on the diamond at midday and were invited to the Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves game that evening. The group was even recognized during the 2nd inning.

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The Congressional Award is the U.S. Congress’ only charity and award program for youth. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.


Resources
View the complete list of 2019 Gold Medalists.

Download a PDF copy of the 2019 Gold Medal Ceremony Program Book.

View the Gold Medal Ceremony & Events photo gallery.

Visit the 2019 Gold Medal Ceremony press kit.

Learn more about the panel discussions.