Senator Wyden Presents The Congressional Award, Highlights Student Creativity in STEM

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden provides remarks to Congressional Awardees and guests.

Portland, OR — The inaugural Oregon Statewide Congressional Award Ceremony took place on Friday, April 12, 2019 at KinderCare Learning Centers Corporate Offices in Portland, Oregon.

United States Senator Ron Wyden recognized student leaders with Congressional Award Medals and offered a Q&A for constituents to address today’s most pressing issues and local opportunities.

“I am incredibly inspired by these amazing young Oregonians and the outstanding public service they have provided in our state,” Wyden said. “Each richly deserves their Congressional Awards and I thank The Congressional Award program for recognizing them and so many other young people around the country working hard to make their communities better.”

Senator Wyden presents Caleb Jacobson with the Bronze Medal.

KinderCare Education’s Chief Executive Officer, Tom Wyatt, and Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer and Congressional Award Board Member, Kelsey Troy, were on hand to support the youth honorees and reinforce their organization’s mission to provide quality early education.

Prior to the award ceremony, Senator Wyden traversed the city to participate in events that displayed the latest progress in student-led STEM activities. He served as a special guest at the Intel Northwest Science Expo hosted by Portland State University as well as a science experiment with children and their teachers at KinderCare in downtown Portland.

Bronze Medalist Quinn McElroy-Fuchs with Senator Wyden, The Congressional Award’s Erica Heyse, and KinderCare’s Tom Wyatt and Kelsey Troy.

Quinn McElroy-Fuchs earned not only The Congressional Award Silver Medal but was also presented with a STEM Star for creating Operation Tooth Fairy, a Girl Scout Gold Award project that brings dental care information and dental supplies to low-income families in the Greater Portland area.

“The Congressional Award has really taught me about the importance of goal setting. Even if a goal seems out of reach if you put the time and effort in to work at it piece by piece, you will be surprised by the impact you can make,” said Quinn.

By collaborating with partners like KinderCare, The Congressional Award STEM Stars Initiative aims to stoke passion for science and math and help make STEM more approachable. Priorities include educating students to be leaders and innovators in emerging and rapidly changing STEM fields as well as educating a scientifically literate populace.

Bronze Medalist Aayush Bhatt shares his Congressional Award story.

Oregon Congressional Award Recipients:
Martin Berger of Portland (Silver Medal)
Aayush Bhatt of Beaverton (Bronze Medal)
Akash Bindalof Beaverton (Bronze Medal)
Caleb Jacobson of Portland (Bronze Medal)
Rachel Luther of Hood River (Gold Medal)
Quinn McElroy-Fuchs of Portland (Silver Medal)
Patrick Townsend of Portland (Gold Medal)
Timothy Townsend of Portland (Silver Medal)

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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The Congressional Award Welcomes New Talent to National Board of Directors

Washington, DC (April 12, 2019) —The Congressional Award Foundation announces the election of five board members – Raymond Hall, Adrian Harpool, Molly Ryan, Kelsey Troy, and Ben Zandi – effective immediately.

“Each of our newest board members embody the spirit of The Congressional Award and bring valued expertise and energy to an already gifted team,” said Paxton K. Baker, Chairman of The Congressional Award National Board of Directors. “We are fortunate to have them by our side as we continue to strengthen communities and build the next generation of leaders through Congress’ award program for youth.”

Raymond Hall is Chief Human Resources Officer at Miller Management Corporation. He is responsible for the development of the people and culture for The Larry H. Miller Group of Companies.

Ray spent the first 11 years of his professional career with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (Ft. Bragg, NC) before moving into the civilian sector.

His career accelerated over the next several years to the executive leadership level in large, multi-national companies. With more than 20 years of global experience in Human Resources and talent strategy, Mr. Hall brings a strong international outlook to his leadership roles.

Adrian Harpool serves as principal for Adrian Harpool Associates, a Baltimore-based strategic planning, marketing/branding, public relations, and communications consultancy.

He has led efforts to launch successful consumer brands, paved the way for large-scale real estate development projects, and helped to execute effective campaigns for causes and candidates that have literally transformed communities nationwide.

Adrian currently serves as president of the Madison Park Improvement Association and as chairman of the Midtown Community Benefits District in Baltimore.

Molly Ryan is the Head of Government Affairs and Advocacy at Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc.

She is responsible for the Federal, State, and Advocacy Government Relations department and leads the organization’s strategies to increase emphasis around disease awareness, treatment options, and access to therapies.

Molly is an advocate of grooming the next generation of female leaders. She sits on the board of Women in International Trade (WIIT) Trust as well as the California State Society.

Kelsey Troy is Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at KinderCare Education, the nation’s leading private provider of high-quality early childhood education and school-age programs.

Under her leadership of 35,000 employees nationwide, KCE earned their second Gallup Great Workplace Award, one of only 37 companies in the world and the first and only early childhood education company to receive this distinction.

Prior to joining KCE, Kelsey served as Vice President of Human Resources at ANN Inc. in New York City.

Ben Zandi is President and Chief Executive Officer of Fraport USA, the North American division of Fraport Group, a global airport operations company.

Mr. Zandi takes an active role in reimaging airport travel with pioneering technologies, retail concepts, and new levels of customer experience.

Previously, Zandi was Executive Vice President of Operations for private equity firm Bunker Hill Capital, Principal and President of his own management firm, and Director of Operations for HMSHost.

Mr. Zandi has also served as a city councilman and vice mayor of Bristol, Tennessee and has been the president of multiple nonprofit organizations. He is certified by the Management and Strategy Institute as a Six Sigma Black Belt Professional.

Get to know the entire Board of Directors at www.congressionalaward.org/board.

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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Congress Honors Youth Leaders at Congressional Award Nevada Luncheon

Nevada’s Congressional Award recipients with U.S. Representatives Horsford, Lee, and Titus

Las Vegas, NV — On Saturday, March 9, 2019, the U.S. Congressional Award of Nevada Council hosted a recognition event for recipients of The Congressional Award, Congress’ highest honor for youth.

U.S. Representatives Dina Titus (NV-01), Susie Lee (NV-03), and Steven Horsford (NV-04) were on hand at local restaurant MINT Indian Bistro to provide encouraging remarks and present the coveted awards.

Congresswoman Dina Titus meets with Silver Medalist Sonakshi Dixit and her family

“It’s always exciting to see fresh, new leaders in our community. The requirements of this program are quite demanding, and I am inspired by the determination and enthusiasm demonstrated by this year’s awardees,” said Congressman Steven Horsford. “These students are not just recipients of an award but serve as role models for other young adults seeking to achieve their goals. I encourage others in Nevada to rise to the challenge and to participate in this transformative program.”

To earn the award, each young person set and achieved personally challenging goals in four program areas – Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.

Congresswoman Susie Lee presents the Bronze Medal to Peyton Barsel

“With young leaders like these, our future is bright. I was so inspired by these young Nevadans for the hours of service they’ve dedicated to our community,” said Congresswoman Susie Lee. “The hard work, dedication, and passion they have demonstrated through their actions in our community are an inspiration to the rest of us.”

The event showcased The Congressional Award’s focus on local collaboration and community engagement, welcoming Nevada business leaders and organizational partners like the Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada.

“It was truly a delight and honor to take part in the recognition of our exceptional young people across Nevada who took part in Nevada’s Congressional Award program,” said David Osman, President of the U.S. Congressional Award of Nevada Council. To hear and embrace their stories, to meet each of their families, accentuates and exemplifies the value that was a part of their personal development and the phenomenal public service provided within their respective communities.”

Congressman Steven Horsford presents the Gold Medal to Ritvik Janamsetty

A recipient of the Gold Medal, Ritvik Janamsetty volunteered with North South Foundation, a local non-profit that engages the local Indian community and secures scholarships for students traveling to India.

Ritvik gave a participant testimony on Saturday saying, “The Congressional Award has been one of the most pivotal things in my life to help me learn about myself and learn about my identity.”

Nevada Congressional Award Recipients:
Leyla Akgedik of Henderson (Silver Certificate)
Zeynep Akgedik of Henderson (Silver Medal)
Peyton Barsel of Las Vegas (Bronze Medal)
Jordon Cranford of Las Vegas (Bronze Medal)
Sonakshi Dixit of Las Vegas (Silver Medal)
Ritvik Janamsetty of Henderson (Gold Medal)
Kevin Leong of Henderson (Bronze Certificate)
Jason Lin of Las Vegas (Silver Medal)
Millenia Luna of Beatty (Bronze Medal)
Amaya Mendeguia of Carson City (Silver Certificate)
Radhika Shah of Henderson (Bronze Medal)

Near the close of the award presentation, Congressman Horsford issued a challenge to his young constituents. “You have an opportunity to forge ahead. Whether it’s in Congress, in business, in academia, whatever you do, this is all we ask: Come back, give back, and allow someone else to have an opportunity to follow behind you.”

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 ‘Dean’ of Congress John Dingell

February 8, 2019 (Washington, DC) – It is with heavy hearts that we learn of the passing of an American patriot, former U.S. Representative John Dingell.

Former Congressman John Dingell with wife and current Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Gold Medalist John Orton. June 2015

John was the longest-serving member of Congress when he retired in 2015, having represented the people of Michigan for 59 years in office.

Rep. Dingell will forever be remembered as a political giant. We were all enamored with his gregarious personality, quick wit, intellect, and integrity.

As a nation, we remain indebted to John for a number of historic legislative feats and are grateful for his impact and leadership.

Congressman Dingell presents The Congressional Award to youth recipients at his district office. August 2013

It was our privilege to present Congressman John Dingell with The Congressional Award’s Wallop Howard Leadership Award in 2015. The award is presented to individuals in the public sector who “have displayed outstanding commitment to improving the lives of our nation’s young people and providing critical support in The Congressional Award Foundation’s efforts to make the program a national opportunity.”

Our condolences are with John’s wide reaching circle of supporters and particularly our friend and board member, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, during this time of grieving.

The Congressional Award Names New Members to National Board of Directors

Washington, DC (January 29, 2019) —The Congressional Award Foundation announces the election of four board members – Wei-Li Chong, Larry Duncan, Missy Foxman, and Ray Kerins – effective immediately.

“We are thrilled to welcome Larry, Missy, Ray, and Wei-Li to our leadership team and especially value the industry experience each member brings,” said Paxton K. Baker, Chairman of The Congressional Award National Board of Directors. “They join The Congressional Award at an exciting time as we continue to propel our mission forward and build corporate partnerships that help to enrich the lives of our nation’s youth.”

Wei-Li Chong serves as President of KinderCare Education at Work, a leading provider of customized childcare and work-life solutions for companies across the United States.

Prior to KinderCare, Wei-Li held multiple leadership positions with companies in the retail industry. He is considered an expert in multi-unit management and building high performing engaged teams. He is known as a champion for children, young adults, and the changes organizations need to make to better embrace the demands of today’s workforce. He is sought after as a speaker and subject matter expert in leadership principles, engagement, and work-life integration.

Larry Duncan is Vice President for Government Affairs at Lockheed Martin, where he serves as a senior liaison to federal and state government officials.

Before Lockheed Martin, Mr. Duncan was a corporate lawyer and lobbyist. He provided legislative and regulatory counsel to media and entertainment companies, telecom and satellite carriers, professional sports leagues, trade associations, and a variety of technology clients.

Mr. Duncan is actively involved in the Washington, D.C. area community, including service on the Board of Directors for the USO-Metropolitan Washington; Running Start, a non-profit organization that inspires women to run for political office; and ThanksUSA, a non-profit organization that provides scholarships for the spouses and children of military personnel.

Melissa (Missy) Cortese Foxman is Director of Federal Government Relations at the Entertainment Software Association. She is the former Executive Director of the Women’s High-Tech Coalition (WHTC), a non-profit serving women working on tech policy in the public and private sectors.

Her public sector background includes serving U.S. Sen. Connie Mack (R-FL) as Deputy Chief of Staff at the Senate Republican Conference and professional staff member of the Joint Economic Committee. She also served as a political appointee at the U.S. Small Business Administration under President George H.W. Bush.

Ray Kerins is Senior Vice President and Head of Communications, Government Relations & Policy for Bayer U.S.

Previously, Ray was Vice President of external affairs & worldwide communications for Pfizer and Executive Director of public affairs for Merck & Co.

Ray is the recipient of many company and industry awards, including being named “2017 Outstanding In-House Professional Award” by PRWeek Magazine.

Kerins is a board member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and vice chairman of the Chamber’s Global Innovation Policy Center.

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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Statement on the Passing of Senator Harris Wofford

January 23, 2019 (Washington, DC) – The Congressional Award Foundation joins the nation in mourning the loss of former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania.

On February 19, 2008, Senator Wofford served as the Keynote Speaker for The Congressional Award Pennsylvania Statewide Ceremony hosted at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA.

In addition to being a devoted civil rights activist and adviser to President John F. Kennedy, Senator Wofford was known for reinvigorating America’s passion for service. He steered the National and Community Service Act of 1993, which created AmeriCorps, the Senior Corps, and Learn and Serve America, all federally funded programs that have engaged hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the nation.

As a champion of service, Senator Wofford was generous enough to support Congress’ award for youth long after his tenure in the Senate.

We give our condolences to Mr. Wofford’s family and friends. He left an indelible impression on our nation and his legacy will serve as an example for generations to come.

2019 Gold Medal Submission Deadline

In order to be eligible for the 2019 Gold Medal Ceremony in June 2019 (exact date TBA), participants must submit their Gold Medal Record Book to the national office no later than February 1, 2019.

This is a postmark, email, and fax deadline. Submissions made after February 1st will be grouped with the 2020 Gold Medal class.

If you have submitted a Gold Medal Record Book and it is currently “pending,” please submit your revision responses no later than March 15, 2019.

Remembering the life of former Rep. Ed Pastor

November 28, 2018 (Washington, DC) – The Congressional Award Foundation mourns the loss of former U.S. Representative Ed Pastor and expresses our condolences to family and friends.

Congressman Pastor was the first Hispanic member of Congress elected from Arizona and served for more than two decades in the House of Representatives.

In 2006, The Congressional Award presented Pastor with the Wallop-Howard Leadership Award. The honor recognized his outstanding commitment to improving the lives of our nation’s youth and providing critical support to the Foundation’s outreach.

Lauded as a true public servant and a consummate fighter for civil rights, Pastor’s legacy will have a lasting impact.

Reps. Clarke, Maloney Honor New York Youth with Congressional Award

Peal Dip of Elmhurst, NY receives his Bronze Medal from Representatives Clarke and Maloney.

New York, NY — On October 21, 2018, U.S. Representatives Yvette Clarke (NY-09) and Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) hosted The Congressional Award’s 2018 New York Statewide Ceremony at New York Law School in the Tribeca neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, New York City.

The ceremony recognized 297 youth across the state for their personal goal-setting and acts of citizenship. Just shy of 50 recipients were able to attend the event.

To earn the award, each young person set and achieved goals in four program areas – Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.

This year’s group contributed 37,055 volunteer hours to their communities, an average of 125 hours per participant.

“I was delighted to be able to salute all the wonderful young people who received The Congressional Award at the New York ceremony,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.

It’s a terrific program in which everyone benefits – the participants, who devote as much as two years of their time to projects that enable them to develop new skills, new interests, new insights, and new experiences as they go through the program; local organizations and people in need, who benefit from thousands of hours of public service volunteered by talented and ambitious young people; and communities, which benefit from having talented young people who have succeeded in challenging themselves to excel and who are becoming the leaders of the future,” added Maloney.

Issuing inspiring words of encouragement to the recipients Congresswoman Yvette Clarke stated, “Remember this award is only the beginning of your journey. Make service your lifestyle!”

New York’s Congressional Award recipients with Representatives Clarke, Maloney, and special guests.

Pamela Wilks, Assistant Principal of Manhattan Hunter Science High School, was presented with the Outstanding Advisor award for her efforts in mentoring students through the program.

Guests of honor included three members of The Congressional Award’s National Board of Directors – Anthony Crowell, Dean and President of New York Law School, Dr. Brian Johnson, and Mitch Draizin – as well as NYC Council Member Ritchie Torres.

Spectrum News NY1 political reporter Grace Rauh volunteered her talents as the master of ceremonies.

Event photos, ceremony program, and list of award recipients (including hometowns) are available to view and download.

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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Sen. Wicker, Rep. Harper Commemorate 20th Anniversary of Mississippi Congressional Award

Mississippi’s Congressional Awardees with Sen. Wicker and Rep. Harper in the Old Capitol Museum.

Jackson, MS — On Sunday, October 14, 2018, Senator Roger Wicker (Miss.) and Congressman Gregg Harper (MS-03) hosted The Congressional Award’s 2018 Mississippi Statewide Ceremony at the Old Capitol Museum.

The award ceremony recognized 38 youth across the state for their personal goal-setting and volunteer efforts.

In 2018 alone, Congressional Award participants in Mississippi have contributed 41,850 hours of service to their communities.

Each recipient set and achieved goals in four program areas – Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.

Senator Wicker congratulates award recipients.

“I am proud of these young men and women for their accomplishments,” said Senator Roger Wicker.

“Their impressive records of public service are a testament to their character and a credit to our state. I extend my personal thanks to Mississippi 4-H and the Mississippi State University Extension program for their 20 years of support of The Congressional Award. It is clear the program has promoted initiative, achievement, and excellence in our young people,” added Wicker.

Representative Gregg Harper interacts with recipients before the ceremony.

Parents, alumni, and mentors were also in attendance to celebrate an immense milestone.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Congressional Award program being presented through Mississippi 4-H and Mississippi State University Extension.

“The Congressional Award is able to empower and equip youth in local communities thanks to our elected officials and partners like Mississippi 4-H and Mississippi State University Extension. By offering shared experiences and fostering critical life skills, we are developing the next generation of leaders,” said Erica Heyse, National Director of The Congressional Award Foundation.

Special guests at the celebration included Dr. Gary Jackson, Director of Mississippi State University Extension; and Dr. Linda Mitchell, Regional Extension Coordinator for the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center and member of The Congressional Award Board of Directors.

16 WAPT News anchor Keegan Foxx volunteered her afternoon to be the master of ceremonies.

Event photos and a copy of the ceremony program (including a list of awardees and their hometowns) are available to view and download.

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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