2019 Roosevelt Leadership Awards Presented to Neal, Brady, Reed & Camp

Jon Meacham delivers keynote remarks at this year’s awards celebration

WASHINGTON, DC – At a dinner this past Thursday at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum in Boston, The Ripon Society and Franklin Center for Global Policy Exchange honored four leaders of the Ways & Means Committee with the 2019 Roosevelt Leadership Award, an honor that is given in the spirit of America’s 26th  President and is intended to recognize leaders who today embody some of the same qualities that Theodore Roosevelt displayed throughout his life and career.

“This award was established with one premise in mind,” stated Jim Conzelman, the President & CEO of the Ripon Society and the Franklin Center, “namely, that there is a lot of good, thoughtful work being done on Capitol Hill and in Washington that people do not regularly hear about.  With trust in government at an all-time low, we believe it is important that Americans not only learn about this work, but learn more about the individuals who are responsible for getting it done.

“To that end,” Conzelman said, “the Roosevelt Leadership Award honors those leaders:

Who have a sense of duty and service driven by a love of country.

Who possess a desire to do what is in the best interests of the American people – regardless of party, and regardless of who gets the credit; and,

Who embody the qualities that Theodore Roosevelt spoke of when he said: ‘The credit belongs to those who are actually in the arena, who strive valiantly; who know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spend themselves in a worthy cause; who at best know the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if they fail, fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.’

“The four leaders we honor tonight embody these qualities and more. Between them, they have nearly 100 years of service at every level of government. Individually, they have made their mark in many important ways.

This year’s Roosevelt Award honorees include: U.S. Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), who serves as the Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee; U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who served as Ways & Means Chairman from 2015 to 2019 and currently serves as the panel’s Ranking Member; U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), who serves as Ranking Member of the Ways & Means Subcommittee on Social Security; and, former U.S. Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), who served as Ways & Means Chairman from 2011 to 2015.

Also receiving a Roosevelt Award was Don Carlson, the longtime Chief of Staff to former Ways & Means Chairman Bill Archer who was honored for his years of service in Congress and his longtime support of The Ripon Society and Franklin Center.

In addition to the Roosevelt Leadership Awards dinner on Thursday night, Conzelman noted that this year’s awards celebration also featured a visit on Friday to John Adams’ presidential birthplace and family estate in Quincy.  Conzelman added that the awards celebration concluded with a dinner on Friday evening that featured keynote remarks by Pulitzer Prize winning author Jon Meacham, who spoke not only about his latest bestseller,  The Soul of America, but the founding of The Ripon Society and its historic role as the first major Republican organization to support passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s.

This is the fifth year the Roosevelt Leadership Awards have been presented.  Last year’s awards dinner was held at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, while the 2017 awards celebration was held in New York and included visits to Theodore Roosevelt’s historic home at Sagamore Hill and Franklin Roosevelt’s estate and museum in Hyde Park.  In 2016, the awards celebration was held at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, while the inaugural Roosevelt Awards in 2015 were held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, and included a visit to Rancho del Cielo, President Reagan’s historic ranch atop the Santa Ynez Mountain range northwest of Santa Barbara.

According to Conzelman, holding this year’s awards dinner at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library was especially fitting because JFK’s legacy has a special place not only in American history, but the history of The Ripon Society, as well.

“The first public statement by The Ripon Society was written in the weeks following JFK’s tragic death,” Conzelman noted in his welcoming remarks on Thursday night.  “The statement was titled, ‘A Call to Excellence in Leadership: An Open Letter to the New Generation of Republicans.’  It read in part:

‘To all thinking Republicans, the meaning of November 22, 1963, should be clear. The Republican Party now has a challenge to seek in its future leadership those qualities of vision, intellectual force, humaneness  and courage that Americans saw and admired in John F. Kennedy — not in a specious effort to fall heir to his mantle, but because our times demand no lesser greatness … Great government requires great men in government.  In a complex age – when truth is relative and total solutions elusive — we can do no more than pledge the very best qualities of mind and soul to the endless battle for human dignity … All of us must now respond to the need for forceful leadership.’

“Clearly, a lot has changed since the founders of the Ripon Society wrote this statement 56 years ago,” Conzelman said.  “But one thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of forceful leadership, and the need for great men – and great women – in government.

“It is in that spirit of leadership and service that we meet here tonight in Boston at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library.  And it is in that spirit that we present the 2019 Roosevelt Leadership Awards.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.

Founded in 1978, The Franklin Center for Global Policy Exchange is a non-partisan, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization committed to enhancing global understanding of important international issues.  The Franklin Center brings together Members of the U.S. Congress and their international parliamentary counterparts as well as experts from the Diplomatic corps, foreign officials, senior private sector representatives, scholars, and other public policy experts.  Through regular conferences and events where leading international opinion leaders share ideas, the Franklin Center promotes enlightened, balanced, and unbiased international policy discussion on major international issues.

To view additional photos from the 2019 Roosevelt Leadership Awards celebration, please click here.