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ADA Honors House Democratic Leader Pelosi

Posted by Will Rice (will) on Aug 05 2011 at 12:43 PM
ADA Today >>

One groundbreaking American stateswoman will be honored with an award named for another, while two leading progressive advocates will be similarly linked to their distinguished predecessors, all at ADA’s 64th annual awards banquet September 13.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi—the first woman to serve as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives—will receive the Frances Perkins Award for Outstanding Government Service, named for the nation’s first female Cabinet member.  As Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Labor Secretary, Perkins championed such New Deal landmarks as Social Security, fair labor standards and the Civilian Conservation Corps. 

ADA will bestow the Reuther-Chavez Award for Labor Leadership—commemorating two of the 20th Century’s greatest progressive union leaders—on National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel.Fraud-busting attorney Jack Blum will be the recipient of the Winn Newman Lifetime Achievement Award, named for the prominent civil and employment rights attorney and ADA’s long-time counsel.

“Nancy Pelosi, Dennis Van Roekel and Jack Blum are all the kind of liberal leaders that ADA has always celebrated. It’s an honor for us to be honoring them,” said ADA National Director Michael J. Wilson. He added: “The names that grace the awards they’ll be receiving accentuate ADA’s role as bridge between the great progressive figures of the past and those of the present.”  

Pelosi’s term as Speaker (2007-11) is widely viewed as one of the most productive in the House’s history.  Measures improving health care, reforming Wall Street, expanding student loans, ensuring pay equity, protecting food safety and revoking the military’s discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy —among many other advances—were all enacted under her leadership. In addition, bills that would have helped deserving young immigrants pursue the American dream and held oil companies truly accountable for environmental disasters—along with many other useful  pieces of legislation—passed the House but were blocked in the Senate. 

Walter Reuther and Caesar Chávez, for whom ADA’s Labor Leadership Award is named, were both instrumental in expanding the labor movement from small crafts to whole industries and in making unions important players on the national scene. 

Reuther--an ADA founder--forged the United Auto Workers into a potent force for both its members and social progress, most notably civil rights. Chavez touched the conscience of America with his successful organizing of the previously invisible into the United Farm Workers.  Reuther-Chavez award recipient Dennis Van Roekel taught math for over  20 years; since becoming National Education Association president in 2008, he’s brought his classroom experience to bear on the national education debate, urging more resources for underfunded schools. 

Blum, as a private attorney and Congressional committee staffer, has made a career of pursuing the kind of financial fraud that not only robs individuals of their life savings, but can bring on economic collapses like the current Great Recession.   His award’s namesake, Winn Newman, longtime counsel to ADA, as well as the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) and other labor groups, won several notable equal pay cases against major corporations.

The ADA banquet will be held at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington. A cocktail reception begins at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and the presentation of ADA awards beginning at 7.  Tickets and more information are available at adaction.org.