On April 2, 2014, the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress will recognize three outstanding honorees who have dedicated themselves to national service.
WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A civil rights pioneer, a former cabinet member and immigration reform advocate, and a group that provides badly needed services for our nation's wounded warriors headline the award winners at the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress (FMC) annual "Salute to Service: Statesmanship Awards" dinner coming this April.
Connie Morella (R-MD), president of FMC, and a former U.S. Ambassador, announced today that John Lewis (D-GA) will receive the "Statesmanship Award," former Commerce Secretary and former CEO of Kellogg, Carlos Gutierrez, the "Corporate Statesmanship Award," and Operation Homefront, the "Civic Statesmanship Award." All three, according to Morella, have "devoted themselves to improving the lives of Americans, and going above and beyond the call of duty."
"This will be the 17th year of hosting this event, and I couldn't be more thrilled with this year's winners," said Morella. "I served in the House of Representatives with John since 1986 when we were both classmates in the 100th Congress. Not only is he among the greatest champions of civil rights in our nation's history, but also one of the most passionate proponents of service and someone who I am extremely proud to call a friend."
Rep. Lewis recently participated in the national celebration of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic March on Washington. As a young boy, he was motivated to join the civil rights movement after he heard Dr. King's speeches on the radio, and the activism surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott. While in college, he organized sit-ins at segregated lunch counters, and at 21 volunteered to take part in the "Freedom Rides," where he was beaten by angry mobs and arrested by the police. For his years of leading the civil rights movement, he has received more than 50 honorary degrees, and numerous national awards including the "Medal of Freedom," the nation's highest civilian honor.
Rep. Lewis was elected to Congress in November 1986, and serves Georgia's Fifth Congressional District. He is senior chief deputy whip for the Democratic Party, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, a member of its Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, and ranking member of its Subcommittee on Oversight.
As CEO, president and Chairman of the Board of the Kellogg Company, Carlos Gutierrez transformed the food industry, by focusing on healthy eating and nutrition. The youngest CEO in Kellogg's 100 year history, Gutierrez began his nearly 30-year career with the company at age 22 as a sales representative and a delivery truck driver in Mexico. Born in Havana, Gutierrez's family settled in Mexico City after fleeing Cuba.
In 2004, Gutierrez was appointed Commerce Secretary by President George H. W. Bush. In that role, he served as co-chair of the U.S. Commission for Assistance to Free Cuba, and represented the U.S. business interests here and abroad. Gutierrez was instrumental in the passage of CAFTA-DR, a trade agreement that expanded U.S. export opportunities in Latin America. He was also the President's point person for working with Congress to pass comprehensive immigration legislation, one of the most important social issues that face the nation.
After leaving government service, Gutierrez founded and co-chaired Global Political Strategies, an international consulting firm and division of APCO Worldwide. From 2011 to 2013 Gutierrez served as vice-chairman of the Institutional Clients Group and as a member of the Senior Strategic Advisory Group for Citi. Currently he is Chairman of Republicans for Immigration Reform, the political action committee he co-founded in 2012, and is Vice Chair of Albright Stonebridge Group, a global commercial diplomacy firm. He serves on the boards of the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and American Studies, the Meridian International Center, the U.S. Mexico Foundation, the George W. Bush Institute's Human Freedom Initiative, Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Met Life, and Time Warner, Inc.
"This year we also are recognizing the outstanding work of Operation Homefront. As one of the highest-rated non-profits in the nation, Operation Homefront's focus is to provide relief, recovery and recognition in an effort to help military families in their time of need," said Pete Weichlein, CEO of FMC.
Lou Frey (R-FL), FMC board member and dinner chairman, added: "Many of our former Members of Congress, including myself, have served in the military, and that's one of the many reasons why we support wounded warriors and their families as much as we can. We are thrilled to recognize Operation Homefront and the outstanding and important work it accomplishes under the leadership of Jim Knotts, its CEO, who will accept the award on behalf of the organization."
Since 2002, Operation Homefront has helped provide emergency financial and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. The assistance grants have gone to cover the most basic of needs like rent, utilities and even food assistance. Additionally, Operation Homefront provides transitional housing to wounded warriors as they transition out of the military due to their injuries. Beginning in 2012, they began working with major banks to take donated, foreclosed homes and giving them to service members and veterans—mortgage free—along with supportive services for up to two years.
Weichlein added that the proceeds raised from the Salute to Service: Statesmanship Awards Dinner help FMC conduct pro-bono service projects across the U.S. and around the world. Former Members of Congress donate their time to a variety of programs such as: "Congress to Campus," where bipartisan groups visit college campuses to help promote civic literacy and service; help emerging democracies build global legislative networks through "Congressional Study Groups;" conduct election monitoring; and mentor wounded warriors; among others.
For more information on sponsoring the event or to purchase tickets, visit—www.usafmc.org.
Former Members of Congress are also available for interviews by request.
SOURCE U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress