The 2016 Franklin D. Roosevelt Distinguished Public Service Awards

The Franklin D. Roosevelt Distinguished Public Service Awards honor individuals whose careers exemplify President Roosevelt’s extraordinary dedication to public service and seek to inspire a renewed national commitment to the principals for which FDR stood. This year’s awards were held on Tuesday, June 7 in Washington, D.C.

Change can take a lifetime, and these men and women have dedicated their lives to the public good, never limiting themselves to what seemed possible when they began. Each year, we celebrate their courage, commitment, and values. For more information on the Awards, please click here.

2016 Honorees

The Hon. Keith Ellison | Gina McCarthy | Lee Saunders


Keith-Ellison-4-248x300The Hon. Keith Ellison (Bio)
U.S. Representative, Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District

No one could have achieved the sweeping changes of the New Deal alone. As president, FDR relied on his personal advisors, like Eleanor Roosevelt and the members of his Brains Trust, as well as progressive members of Congress who supported his vision of a stronger, more equitable democracy and were committed to making it a reality.

In almost a decade in the U.S. House of Representatives, Keith Ellison has not only served the people of Minnesota’s 5th congressional district with distinction but also established himself as one of the leading advocates for American’s working families as co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Chief Deputy Whip for House Democrats. The Roosevelts also believed strongly in the importance of religious freedom, and as the first Muslim elected to Congress, Ellison has set an inspiring example for young people from all walks of life who seek to bring more diverse views and values into our political system, including those who wish to run for office themselves. The Roosevelt Institute is pleased to present the Franklin D. Roosevelt Distinguished Public Service Award to Congressman Keith Ellison.


Gina_McCarthy_official_portraitGina McCarthy (Bio)
Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president at a time when the United States, and indeed the global community, faced an existential crisis. Just as FDR contended with economic depression and the forces of fascism and Nazism, our generation faces a worldwide threat in the form of climate change. As temperatures and sea levels rise, devastating the environment and displacing millions, we need leaders who are ready to confront this challenge head-on.

In her more than three decades of public service, Gina McCarthy has been instrumental in promoting policies at the local, state, and federal level designed to protect the environment and public health. The Clean Power Plan developed during her tenure as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency seeks to reduce carbon emissions from energy producers by 32 percent over the next 14 years, which, combined with the historic Paris Agreement, represents America’s best hope of not only preventing climate disaster but leading the way toward a sustainable future. As she works to protect our common home, we are pleased to present EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Distinguished Public Service Award.


Lee_Saunders-912x1024Lee Saunders (Bio)
President, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees

When President Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act into law in 1938, he called it the most significant addition to the New Deal since Social Security. He understood that empowering workers was key to creating the strong middle class that would fuel the American economy for decades to come. He also knew that organized labor would act as a countervailing force to the business interests whose reckless actions contributed to the Great Depression.

Today, workers’ rights are under siege all across the country as the wealthy elite try to cement their control over our economy, our political system, and our society. As president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, our country’s largest public sector union, Lee Saunders is on the frontlines of that fight, leading the charge to rewrite the rules in a way that raises wages, increases bargaining power, and once again puts working people first. Like the Roosevelt Institute network, he is also committed to supporting diverse emerging leaders and ensuring that all workers have a voice. For these reasons, we are pleased to present AFSCME President Lee Saunders with the Franklin D. Roosevelt Distinguished Public Service Award.