“Find Your Why”: Congressional Award Foundation Hosts Entrepreneurship Panel for Gold Medalists


Rachel Mallory, Manager of Corporate Partnerships


October 7, 2020

Washington, DC

Last Saturday, The Congressional Award Foundation hosted an interactive “Entrepreneurship” Panel as part of the first-ever virtual Gold Medal Ceremony, which honored 478 incredible young leaders with the highest recognition bestowed by Congress.

The panel was moderated by Romero Brown, of Romero Brown Consulting, who led a thoughtful discussion with experienced government and industry leaders, including:

  • Congressman Jim Himes, Represents Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District
  • Brad Knox, Aflac
  • Chiling Tong, National Asian American Chamber of Commerce (ACE)
  • Dr. Brian K. Johnson, Advance Higher Education, LLC
  • Kirk Spahn, Institute for Civic Leadership

Panelists shared valuable life skills and strategies for success in the business world. Attendees were also given the opportunity to ask their own questions related to entrepreneurship and their personal goals.

Finding purpose, networking and learning, and promoting a diverse workplace were highlights of the discussion.

“Find your why,” shares Dr. Brian K. Johnson (Advance Higher Education, LLC), referring to the importance of understanding your purpose for going into business. Dr. Johnson is a seasoned educational administrator and entrepreneur with more than 25 years of experience in higher education, as a professor, consultant, and business owner.

“Be curious and stay curious – always learn,” was advice given by Brad Knox, who joined Aflac in 2006 and is responsible for leading Aflac’s Federal Relations team.

Panelists discussed the value of developing marketing skills and finding opportunities to network with others. Congressman Jim Himes shared how business prepared him for politics, “In business, learn how to communicate and market.”

How can young people explore entrepreneurship? Kirk Spahn of the Institute for Civic Leadership is a fourth-generation educator with more than two decades in the field. To foster creativity, Spahn shares the importance of giving students the environment to thrive – “Encourage the students to dare to dream and dare to take risks.”

The value of diversity in all areas of business was emphasized. Chiling Tong (National ACE) has intensive experience in economic and business development, with a focus on enhancing the growth of minority business enterprises. Tong shares, “Private institutions can implement changes in their company by creating initiatives that foster more diverse and inclusive work environments – companies that establish diversity programs can expect a more innovative office with more creativity and higher retention rates.

The virtual Gold Medal Ceremony, usually held in person at The Capitol Visitor Center, is one of several steps taken by The Congressional Award Foundation to support and celebrate America’s youth during the pandemic. To learn more about some of the other ways The Congressional Award has responded to the pandemic and upcoming programs and updates, visit us at our website.

For reporters working on national stories and/or members of TV, radio, new media broadcasting:

Bethie Woodall, Director of Events & Strategic Communications


Erica Heyse, National Director


For reporters working on local stories, partner organization/congressional staff inquiries, or general information:

Matt Tick, Program Director


Gail Miller Selected as Horizon Award Recipient

Washington, DC (May 12, 2019)  — The Congressional Award Foundation will honor Gail Miller with the Horizon Award at the annual Gold Medal Ceremony on Capitol Hill on June 20, 2019.

Photo: Larry H. Miller Group of Companies

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 Drew Brees, America Ferrera, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Bob Lanier, Wynton Marsalis, Cal Ripken, Jr., Pat and Emmitt Smith, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Gail embodies the spirit of this award by demonstrating thought for others in her decision-making and using her influence to shape communities for the better,” said Paxton K. Baker, Chairman of The Congressional Award National Board of Directors. “Gail’s story is about finding true individuality and her life’s work serves as an extraordinary example for our nation’s youth, particularly young women.”

Most would recognize the late Larry H. (d. 2009) and Gail Miller for establishing one of the largest privately-owned group of companies in the western United States, with ownership of over 60 car dealerships, the Utah Jazz, Megaplex Theatres, and more.

But in the decade following Larry’s passing, Gail has shown the importance of resolve and drive and been a source of inspiration for many seeking to find their identity.

In April 2018, Gail published the book “Courage to Be You: Inspiring Lessons from an Unexpected Journey.”

The book’s central focus is about finding purpose. Gail shares personal anecdotes about the role faith played in shaping her as a person, the strength of women, and how she measures wealth.

“The success and the money and the worldly things that we have are not where I count my wealth. My wealth is counted in relationships, being able to provide jobs for people where they can support their family and live good lives. Those are the things that really drove us,” stated Gail in a March 2018 interview with Deseret News.

Today, Gail Miller is the owner of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies and serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Larry H. Miller Management Corporation. Gail also presides over the Larry H. Miller Education Foundation and the Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation, which support charitable, educational, and humanitarian causes.

Learn more about the Horizon Award here.

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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