2018 Awardees


BoxLogo_White-on-Blue_RGB.PNGThe American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Award for Institutional Excellence

One of the nation’s foremost individual rights and civil liberties organizations, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been working for nearly 100 years to defend the constitutionally guaranteed rights of people across the United States . The ACLU was formed in 1920 after the U.S. Department of Justice conducted a series of unwarranted raids that affected hundreds of Americans. In the decades following the Palmer Raids, the ACLU continued to advocate for the rights and liberties of all Americans, challenging the unjust internment of Japanese Americans and segregation in the Jim Crow South. Having participated in more Supreme Court cases than any other private organization in the last nine decades, the ACLU remains a staunch defender of civil liberties today, leading the charge against xenophobic policies and laws such as the Muslim and Refugee Ban. During some of our nation’s darkest moments, ACLU lawyers have demanded that we do better. In so doing, the ACLU ensures our country is a safe and welcoming place for all while championing the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

Senator_Frances_Black.jpgThe Honorable Frances Black

Award for Individual Achievement

Since her election to the Irish legislature in 2016, Senator Frances Black has established herself as a fierce and outspoken advocate on behalf of those whose struggles are often relegated to the shadows. A celebrated, award-winning musician in her native Ireland, her musical career began in the 1980s, performing as a frontwoman for her family’s Irish contemporary music band, The Black Family. Having battled alcohol addiction in her early 20s, Senator Black used her public platform to peel back the shame that often surrounds the issue, and later became an addiction counselor to help guide others through their own journey with the disease. Recognizing the unique and often hidden burden that family members of those struggling with addiction bear, she founded the RISE Foundation in 2009 to offer them a place of comfort and support. Her advocacy work was further amplified upon her election to the Irish Senate, where she continues to help expand the debate around alcoholism, as well as fight for the homeless, migrant rights, and survivors of domestic violence, making it her mission to uplift human rights in all her endeavors. Senator Black’s efforts represent all that public servants can accomplish when they are fearless and compassionate advocates.

José_Andrés.jpgWCK_Logo.pngJosé Andrés and World Central Kitchen

Award for International Commitment

Michelin-starred chef, author, food and hunger advocate, and owner of ThinkFoodGroup, Mr. José Andrés is renowned for his groundbreaking dining concepts and commitment to helping others. Awarded “Outstanding Chef” by the James Beard Foundation, Mr. Andrés is not only a leader and innovator in the U.S. restaurant scene, he is also one of the most powerful voices demanding effective policy solutions for food security, nutrition education, and combating childhood obesity. His advocacy has taken him to Capitol Hill and the White House, where he contributed to former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign. Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Mr. Andrés founded World Central Kitchen (WCK) to rally his industry to develop effective solutions to global poverty and hunger. WCK has provided essential safety and sanitation training, built school kitchens, and created social enterprise programs to support local entrepreneurs around the world. In 2017, Mr. Andrés and WCK led an effort to provide comfort and hope to millions of Puerto Ricans, serving more than three million meals in the weeks and months following Hurricane Maria. For his leadership and forward-thinking vision, Time magazine named him one of the world’s “100 Most Influential People” and, in 2015, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama.

Amb._Marcelle_Wahba.jpegThe Honorable Marcelle M. Wahba

Najeeb Halaby Award for Public Service

Ambassador Marcelle M. Wahba’s 22-year career at the Department of State embodied a commitment to living a life of service to her country and fellow citizens. During her tenure, she served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Foreign Affairs Advisor to the chief of staff of the U.S. Airforce, and the international affairs advisor and deputy at the National War College of the National Defense University. In her various leadership roles, Ambassador Wahba was committed to promoting understanding and cooperation between nations, while also representing the very best qualities of our country. She began her career in 1986 when she joined the Foreign Service as a Deputy Policy Officer in the U.S. Information Agency’s Near East Office, later becoming an Embassy Spokesperson in Cairo. For her exemplary public service, Ambassador Wahba received numerous awards, including the White House Presidential Meritorious Service Award, and the UAE Order of Independence First Class. She continues to foster a culture of exchange and understanding in her current work with the Arab Gulf States Institute, the Council on International Educational Exchange, and the American Near East Refugee Aid.