Congressional Award Arkansas Kick-Off Held in Little Rock

Washington, DC (April 27, 2018) — In cooperation with Arkansas 4-H and state and local partners, The Congressional Award Foundation held a program launch event in Little Rock last weekend.

The Arkansas Service Day and Reception, held on Saturday, April 21, was a strategic effort to showcase the Foundation’s partnership with 4-H and to introduce Congress’ award for youth to young people in the Natural State.

Coinciding with Global Youth Service Day, the largest service event in the world, the kick-off begin with a celebration of service at the Arkansas 4-H Center. Youth participants assembled hundreds of hygiene kits for deployed military service members.

That evening, Governor Asa Hutchinson welcomed youth participants, family members, and supporters to the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion for a reception. Honorary guests and speakers included U.S. Senator John Boozman, former Secretary of Transportation and Congressional Award Vice-Chairman Rodney Slater, and Associate Director of 4-H Youth Development Dr. Martha Ray Sartor.

“The young people who gathered at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion reminded me that the upcoming generation promises great things for Arkansas,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “I appreciate The Congressional Award program for the opportunities it offers our youth to undertake good work for their communities. It was an honor to greet the men and women of our future.”

Erica Heyse, Congressional Award National Director, identified Arkansas as a primary target for outreach and development in the coming year, with a goal of enrolling youth from across the state.

Following the event, Senator Boozman issued the following statement, “The Congressional Award program is a worthwhile experience that is incredibly fulfilling for our youth and the organizations where they dedicate their service. Partnering with 4-H will open more doors to youth interested in improving themselves and their community. I am proud to support this opportunity to challenge young Arkansans to develop valuable skills that will help shape their future.”

View the full photo gallery of the reception. Photos provided by the Office of Governor Hutchinson.

About The Congressional Award
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.

About 4‑H
4‑H is the nation’s largest youth development organization, empowering nearly six million young people across the U.S. through experiences that develop critical life skills. 4‑H is the youth development program of our nation’s Cooperative Extension System and USDA, and serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3,000 local Extension offices.

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Senate Majority Leader Appoints Laura O’Connor to National Board of Directors

Washington, DC (November 8, 2017) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has appointed Laura O’Connor of Eagle Mountain, Utah to The Congressional Award Foundation’s National Board of Directors. Mrs. O’Connor will serve as one of the five civilian posts under the Senate Majority Leader.

“This appointment reflects the confidence many have in Laura, and the respect she has earned from decades of leadership and commitment to youth,” said Paxton K. Baker, Chairman of The Congressional Award National Board of Directors. “As The Congressional Award sharpens our focus on improving opportunities for America’s youth, we welcome Laura’s expertise and creativity to increase our impact.”

Mrs. O’Connor has been employed with the Alpine School District for the last 14 years as the Junior High Registrar in the Counseling office and serves on the Registrar Guiding Coalition.

Laura is currently the Scholarship Coordinator on the HOBY Utah Executive Board and has served in a variety of volunteer roles including the Utah Winter Guard Circuit’s Executive Board as the Assistant Contest Director. Mrs. O’Connor has worked with youth of all ages for most of her life, serving as a Girl Scout Leader, 4-H Advisor/Leader, PTA member, and School Site Committee member.

“I am honored and excited to serve alongside each of the board members. I am passionate about this program having seen it first hand and how it impacts not only the youth individually that participate in it, but how their service changes the communities in which they live,” said Laura upon accepting her appointment to the board of directors.

The Congressional Award has become a family tradition for the O’Connors. Laura earned the Silver Medal in 1986 and her husband, Michael (1985 Gold Medalist), and three children; Ashleigh (2011 Gold Medalist), McKenna (2016 Gold Medalist), and Michael (2016 Silver Medalist) have all participated.

Alongside her husband, Laura was named the recipient of The Congressional Award’s Inspiration Award in 2016 for her exemplary work as a youth advisor.

Learn more about Laura by visiting

The Congressional Award is U.S. Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a young person through the Senate and House. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program encourages and recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 14-23. 

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The Congressional Award Foundation Welcomes Four New Members to National Board

Anthony Crowell, Jonathan Heafitz, Chris Leahy, Mike Skahill Join Board of Directors

Washington, DC (October 10, 2017) — The Congressional Award Foundation announces the election of four new Board Members – Anthony Crowell, Jonathan Heafitz, Chris Leahy, and Michael Skahill.

“Collectively, our new members embody the spirit of the Award and share a vision for the community we strive to build. In light of our rapid growth, these professionals will provide business acumen and introduce the program to diverse new networks,” said Paxton Baker, Chairman of The Congressional Award National Board of Directors.

Anthony Crowell serves as Dean and President of New York Law School, one of the oldest law schools in the State of New York. One of his crowning achievements in this role has been the creation and implementation of the school’s first comprehensive strategic plan. Crowell was credited in introducing the nation’s first Two-Year J.D. Honors program, which reduces the cost and time to earn a law degree by one-third.

Crowell’s previous work experience includes membership in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s senior executive management team, counseling top officials in the New York City Law Department, and leading the International City/County Management Association’s government affairs and policy committee. Anthony currently sits on the Board of Trustees for the Brooklyn Public Library. Crowell is also a Congressional Award Silver Medalist.

Jonathan Heafitz is the Assistant Vice President of Federal Affairs for the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), the nation’s trade association for pharmacy benefit managers. In this role, Mr. Heafitz has led advocacy efforts for the industry on Capitol Hill for more than a decade.

Prior to joining PCMA, Mr. Heafitz served in a variety of legislative roles in both the House and Senate, including in the offices of Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Mark Dayton (D-MN).

Chris Leahy is an accomplished executive leader with over twenty-five years of corporate affairs, communications, public policy, and government experience. In his current role as Bayer’s Vice President and Head of Government Relations and Public Policy, Mr. Leahy leads the government relations and policy platform and advises U.S. and global leadership regarding key government regulation and policy issues. Bayer is a leading global life sciences company with a 150-year history and core competencies is the areas of healthcare and agriculture.

Prior to joining Bayer, Chris was Vice President of Federal Government Relations for Peabody Energy. Chris also served on Capitol Hill as a Policy Coordinator and Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Michael Skahill is Vice President of Government Affairs for Smithfield Foods, Inc., a global food company and the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer, headquartered in Smithfield, Virginia. In this position, Skahill plays a key role in the development of policies and strategies to engage governments, multilateral organizations, and other key stakeholders in domestic and international markets.

Skahill lends his talent to various industry leadership boards and committees, including serving as Chairman of the American Romania Business Council, Vice-Chair of the American Poland Business Council, and Treasurer of the US-China Agriculture and Food Partnership. Mike also currently serves as a Director of the National Pork Board, elected by the nation’s pork producers and confirmed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in 2016.

Prior to joining Smithfield Foods in 1998, Skahill has thirteen years of international meat merchandising and trading experience with the Louis Dreyfus Corporation, the United States Meat Export Federation, and Cargill, Inc.

The Congressional Award is U.S. Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a young person through the Senate and House. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program encourages and recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 14-23.

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Chris Doleman Selected as Horizon Award Recipient

NFL Hall of Famer to be recognized for charitable contributions

Washington, DC (September 27, 2017) — Congress will honor former NFL player Christopher Doleman with the Horizon Award at The Congressional Award Foundation’s 23rd Annual Golf Classic.

Revered as one of the finest defensive players in National Football League history, Chris Doleman played 15 seasons in the league for the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, and San Francisco 49ers. Doleman is an 8-time Pro Bowl selection, a member of the NFL’s 1990 All-Decade Team, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

After hanging up his cleats, Chris began to focus his energy on important social issues and humanitarian endeavors. Mr. Doleman founded the Celebrity Charitable Network, a consulting firm that works with athletes, musicians, and other media personalities to support their philanthropic fundraising efforts. Much of Doleman’s recent work has focused on veteran support and reintegration. He partnered with the nonprofit Warriors for Freedom on the Remembering the 22 campaign to bring awareness to the growing epidemic of veteran suicide. Chris is a strong advocate for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, calling the Boys Club of York in Pennsylvania a second home and safe haven during his youth.

“In addition to being a supremely gifted athlete, Chris possesses a magnanimous personality and practices altruism in his daily life. His ability to amplify important messages is worthy of our admiration and a great example for our nation’s young people,” said Mr. Paxton Baker, Chairman of The Congressional Award National Board of Directors.

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.

The Congressional Award is U.S. Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a young person through the Senate and House. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program encourages and recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 14-23.

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Senator Menendez & Representative Gottheimer Host New Jersey Ceremony

On Saturday, June 3, 2017, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and U.S. Representative Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05) honored twelve recipients with The Congressional Award at the 2017 New Jersey Statewide Ceremony. The annual event took place at Bergen Community College’s Ciccone Theatre in Paramus, New Jersey.

Community leaders in both the private and public sectors joined parents, friends, and mentors to celebrate the achievements of the inspiring young leaders.

Brian Thompson of NBC 4 New York offered his talents as the Master of Ceremonies and Boy Scouts of America Troop 90 9F (Elmwood Park) presented the colors. Chaplain Gary Holden of the Police Chaplain Program provided an eloquent invocation and Dr. Ursula Daniels of Bergen Community College welcomed guests to the campus.

While addressing the Medalists in his keynote speech, Congressman Gottheimer stated, “I’m incredibly proud of the students receiving Congressional Awards. They embody New Jersey values; they are smart, strong, and dedicated in their service to their communities and families.”

Senator Menendez echoed the first term Congressman’s sentiment by adding, “Each of today’s honorees have challenged themselves to grow – mentally, physically, culturally, and personally. No two of their journeys have been exactly alike, yet each has earned the recognition of the United States Congress.”

Celgene Corporation once again served as the event sponsor, reaffirming their commitment to youth development in the Garden State. Rich Bagger, Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Market Access, issued a statement after the ceremony.

“Celgene has been honored to sponsor The Congressional Award in New Jersey, and we are proud of the young men and women in New Jersey who have worked so hard to receive these awards. The countless hours of public service that have been performed not only benefit the community and deserving organizations, but also contribute to the personal development of the award winners. We want to thank Congressman Gottheimer, Senator Menendez, and the entire New Jersey Congressional Delegation for their work and leadership of this great program.”

The ceremony recognized youth that have earned The Congressional Award in the past year.

Funda Akilli
Felicia Aschettino
Philip Ballas
Satchel Bell
Elena Boal
Alexander Brescia
Alexander Bruman
Nicholas Coleburn
David Crain
Paige Crain
Michael Doliszny
Elizabeth Emberger
Dominic Esposito
Lindsay Fogel
Madison Gandy
Maura Herbertson
Andrew Laberee
Christopher Lauria
Mitchell Lauria
Amaya Liles
Marta Majewski
Laura Mondadori
Ryan Murphy
Alexis Oliver
Amanda Olivio
Khushbu Patel
Urvi Patel
Vaed Prasad
Maya Ravichandran
Shannon Renshaw
Thiago Santos
Nishi Shah
Madilyn Somers
Trevor Somers
Andrew Sooy
Richard Stelfox
Anthony Uzzolina
Alexis Vanaman
Priya Vulchi
Olivia Weldon
Allison Wetherell
David Wu
Erica Wu

Gabriella Alicea
Megan Arneman
Nishay Bhatnagar
Alexandra Buccine
Meghan Burkey
Edward Davis
Jessica Fritz
Chanel Gist
Shayan Gupta
Gayatri Iyengar
Samantha Kossey
Shannon Leahy
Jingyuan Lu
Raelynne Miller
Sung Hyun Mo
Wesley Musto
Bridget O’Hara
Isla Okkinga
Anthony Olivio
Zoe Pan
Richard Rivera
Gabrielle Sirolli
Nikhil Sobti

Samantha Alfonse
Zachary Asselta
Adrian Azan
Elise Ballan
Alexia Bartleson
Amanda Bates
Andre Biehl
Christopher Carr
Christopher Child
Stanley Clark
Mackenzie Collison
Matthew Conlan
Robert Cuff
Jasmine Davis
Trisha Dehrone
Bryan Delendik Jr.
Tyler DiCarlo
Alyssa Donadio
Ryan Ellam
Jerrod Fletcher
Jessica Flynn
Joshua Geldreich
Daniel Grinthal
Andrew Hickman
Eliza Hunt
Muhammed Keskin
Emily Kimmelman
Alexandra Kukal
Jueun Kwon
Katherine Lacouture
Keemin Lee
David Liu
Dina Manco
Stephanie Martin
Julianne Matassa
Taylor Matey
Malvika Narayan
Nicole Ottens
Esha Patel
Jacob Pirogovsky
Chelsea Plog
Riley Plosica
Krishant Putrevu
Siena Rampulla
Colleen Renshaw
Kristen Sahl
Terrence Shi
Andrea Shlesinger
Megan Sooy
Nolan Stewart
Carly Thompson
Iziah Thompson
Grace Thornton
Chandrasheker Tiruchirapalli Venkatramani
Michael Trull
Ronald Tsung
Alexander Wills
Richard Wills
Katherine Yasser
Jennifer Zaplitny

Bhavesh Agrawal
Alison Cabrera
Woo-Young Cho
Brian Green
Shane Jones
Sophia Lidestri
Emily Mundy
Elizabeth Ritchie
Emilie Weiner

Congress established The Congressional Award in 1979 to recognize initiative, service, and achievement in young people. The program is open to all youth ages 14-23 and participants earn Bronze, Silver, and Gold Congressional Award Certificates and Bronze, Silver, and Gold Congressional Award Medals. Each level involves setting goals in four program areas: Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.

New Jersey remains one of the most active states in The Congressional Award’s national portfolio, ranking within the top ten states in both the number of enrolled participants and number of awards earned. The Garden State has produced 5,969 awardees all-time. There are currently 2,798 participants pursuing the award. In the past year, Congressional Award participants in New Jersey have logged 60,142 hours of voluntary public service in their communities.




Announcing 2017 Gold Medal Theme

We’re issuing a challenge to our Gold Medalists this year – Go & Do!

As one of only 373 nationwide recipients of this coveted award, you have accomplished something special. Along the way you’ve remained focused on reaching your goals, you’ve made lasting impacts in the communities and lives you’ve touched, and you’ve come out of this experience a more well-rounded, holistic citizen.

You have #EarnedIt, but your journey doesn’t end here.

While the Gold Medal Ceremony is the culmination of your hard work, it is not the finish line of your development or your responsibility to your community. As Congressman Joe Crowley (NY-14) said at a statewide ceremony earlier this spring, “Soon there won’t be medals given for the service you’ll do as adults, but you’ll do it for the space it fills in your heart.”

You have now assumed the mantle of leadership for the next generation. You must continue to make service to others and personal goal-setting a habit. We challenge you to continue to spend your time productively as you start college, enter the workforce, or tackle your next project.

Through your pursuit of The Congressional Award Gold Medal, you have equipped yourself with the tools and mindset to excel.

Now it’s time to GO & DO.

Every Gold Medalist will receive this year’s t-shirt as a reminder of all you have accomplished, and a calling to continue your quest for success.

Share your journey to the Gold Medal on social media using #gold2017.

Remembering Bob Michel

The Congressional Award mourns the loss of former House GOP Leader Bob Michel.

A champion of consideration and bipartisanship, Bob was a model public servant for decades. Michel participated in Congress’ only charity with great zeal during his 38 year tenure in Congress and supported the program well after his retirement.

As we celebrate his distinguished life, we recount President Nixon’s words when Mr. Michel retired from the House; “Bob had many opponents, but no enemies.”

Steven Roberts Appointed to Board by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi

Washington, D.C. (January 26, 2017) – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has appointed Steven C. Roberts of St. Louis to The Congressional Award Board, which awards young Americans for distinguished service and accomplishments. Mr. Roberts is serving as one of the five civilian posts under the House Democratic Leader and is the only member from Missouri.

“Steve Roberts has devoted his career to expanding and improving opportunities for young people from all backgrounds,” said Congressman Lacy Clay of Missouri. “He carries on his family’s proud tradition of entrepreneurialism, public engagement, and civic leadership. He is not only a great leader, but I am proud to call him my friend.”

“Steve brings a wealth of experience and insight across a broad range of industries and we are confident that he will add a valuable perspective to our Board of Directors,” said Paxton K. Baker, Chairman of the Board. “We appreciate his willingness to serve as a director and look forward to his participation both in St. Louis and Washington, D.C.”

The Congressional Award, a public-private partnership established by Congress in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, is a noncompetitive program open to young people ages 14 to 23, regardless of mental or physical challenges or socioeconomic status. The Congressional Award Foundation teaches participants to set and achieve personally challenging goals that build character and foster community service, personal development and citizenship. Currently there are over 50,000 young people working to earn The Congressional Award.

Steven Roberts is recognized as one of St. Louis’s most dynamic entrepreneurs. Mr. Roberts serves as President of the Roberts Tower Company LLC and President, Chief Operating Officer, and Founder of The Roberts Companies. He studied at Clark University, attended law school at Washington University, and completed his schooling at St. Louis public school.

The Roberts Companies is a diverse minority owned and operated company founded in 1978. Roberts is proud of its national reputation of investing in urban minority neighborhoods with new businesses and employment opportunities in television and radio station development, hotels, shopping malls, new and renovated housing projects, and wireless tower development.

Download a printable version of this press release.

Matt Tick Joins Congressional Award National Staff

Washington, D.C. (December 16, 2016) – Please join us in welcoming Matt Tick as the newest member of The Congressional Award National Staff. Matt will assume the role of South Program Manager, bringing years of program management, research analysis, and congressional relations experience to our team.

Prior to joining The Congressional Award, Matt was employed by the American Constitution Society. Matt is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C. where he studied International Studies. He has spent a large portion of his career working in youth development as well as congressional offices, including involvement with the YMCA Youth & Government program.

The following states and territories fall within Matt’s portfolio. Feel free to extend a welcome to Matt at

Alabama, APO AE Military, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia.


The Congressional Award will retain former South Program Manager Derek Doyle.

Effective immediately, Derek will serve as the Foundation’s Director of Communications & Strategic Outreach. In his new role, Derek will be responsible for the creation and implementation of the annual communication strategy and shall serve as the primary media contact for the Foundation.

Derek may be reached at

After nearly a decade of service to the National Staff, Director of Operations Kathleen Deschler will depart our staff in January 2017.

We are incredibly thankful for the talent and energy Kati brought to our team each day and wish her and her family the best in this exciting transition.

For a complete listing of our current staff and to learn a bit more about us, please visit our staff directory.