Ben Bernanke & Janet Yellen
Ben S. Bernanke and Janet Yellen were presented the award in 2017 for their work to stabilize and preserve the U.S. economy in their role as chairs of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors during and immediately after the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Both also have been strong advocates of bringing more transparency to the Fed's decision-making process. Bernanke served as Fed chair from 2006 until 2014 and Yellen served from 2014 through the present. Her term as chair expires in February 2018.
Bernanke and Yellen were also the first economists to receive the award. Paul Douglas was a noted economist at the University of Chicago before his career in the Senate.
Ben Bernanke chaired the Department of Economics at Princeton University from 1996 to 2002, when he went on leave to join the Board of Governors where he served until 2005. He then chaired President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers until the president nominated him to the Fed chair in 2006. Bernanke is credited with steering the economy through the worst crisis since the Great Depression by employing some unorthodox measures, including dropping the federal funds interest rate from more than 5 percent to zero percent in less than a year. After leaving the Fed, Bernanke joined the Brookings Institution as a Distinguished Fellow in Residence.
Janet Yellen succeeded Bernanke in 2014 after serving four years as vice chair of the Board of Governors. She is the first woman to hold the position of board chair. Yellen received her PhD in economics from Yale University and taught at Harvard and at the University of California at Berkeley, where she was Eugene E. and Catherine M. Trefethen Professor of Business and Professor of Economics. She also served as a staff economist for the Federal Reserve Board and as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She also chaired President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers from 1997 to 1999.
Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (born 1936) is the senior senator from Maryland. She began her career as a social worker in Baltimore. She has a long record of fighting for women’s health care and aggressively advocating for jobs. Senator Mikulski was the first Democratic woman to be elected to the Senate in her own right and the first Democratic woman to serve in both houses of Congress. She was also the first woman senator to chair the Appropriations Committee. On March 17, 2012 she became the longest serving woman in the history of the United States Congress. Of that milestone, she has always said that it’s not about how long she serves, but how well she serves the people of Maryland and our nation.
John Lewis (born 1940) has dedicated his life to protecting human rights and securing civil liberties. Inspired by his experiences in Alabama as a young boy, Lewis became a nationally recognized leader of the Civil Rights Movement. He organized sit-in demonstrations, participated in the Freedom Rides, and risked his life challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the American south.
Lewis helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. And he led a march intended to take place from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 that culminated in a brutal confrontation between marchers and Alabama state troopers. That confrontation became known as “Bloody Sunday,” and it was an event that influenced the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In the days after Bloody Sunday, Lewis was joined in Selma by Paul Douglas’s wife, Emily Taft Douglas, who participated in a second march across the bridge.
Lewis was elected to Congress in 1986. His colleagues on both sides of the aisle admire him as an exemplary leader. Roll Call magazine has said of him, “John Lewis … is a genuine American hero and a moral leader who commands widespread respect in the chamber.” Known as one who does not shy from civil disobedience to point out injustice, Lewis often says he is glad to get into “good trouble.”
John Paul Stevens
Justice John Paul Stevens (born 1920) was once a student of Paul Douglas’s at the University of Chicago. His lifelong commitment to public service, and prolific writings and principled jurisprudence, show great commitment to the highest standards of integrity.
Stevens was born and raised in Chicago. After service in the Navy during World War II, he earned his law degree from Northwestern University and served as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Wiley Rutledge in 1947. He then returned to Chicago to work as an antitrust lawyer.
In 1970, President Richard Nixon appointed Stevens as judge on the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. He served in that role until 1975 when President Gerald Ford nominated him to be associate justice on the Supreme Court. One of his most notable opinions while on the court was his scathing dissent in the decision to stay the recount of votes in Florida from the 2000 presidential election. Stevens wrote: “Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law."
Justice Stevens retired from the court in 2010 as the third-longest serving justice. President Barack Obama said that Justice Stevens “wore the judicial robe with honor and humility.”
Olympia Snowe (born 1947) was known during her Washington career for her ability to compromise and for her strong sense of bipartisanship. She cited the lack of civility and cooperation as primary reasons for her decision to retire from the U.S. Senate in 2013.
Snowe was the first woman in American history to serve in both houses of a state legislature and both houses of Congress. She was elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 1973 and to the state Senate in 1976. She moved to the U.S. House in 1979 and to the U.S. Senate in 1995, succeeding Democrat George Mitchell. While a member of Congress, Snowe also became First Lady of Maine when she married Gov. John R. McKernan.
Snowe’s dedicated work in the Senate has garnered her nationwide recognition as a leading policymaker in Washington. In 2006, Time magazine named Snowe one of the top ten U.S. senators.
A native of Augusta, ME, Snowe holds a political science degree from the University of Maine.
George J. Mitchell (born 1933) served 15 years in the U.S. Senate, but has become well known in the years since he left the Capitol for his international mediation skills. He served as special adviser to President Clinton on Ireland and from 1996-2001 he was independent chairman of the Northern Ireland peace process that resulted in what has become known as the “Good Friday Agreement.” He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Liberty Medal for his efforts.
In 2009, President Obama named Mitchell as United States Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, and he served in that position until 2011. He also led Major League Baseball’s investigation into the use of performance enhancing drugs among athletes, and served from 2012 to 2015 as an independent monitor of the integrity entered into by Penn State University with the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference after a child sex abuse scandal involving a former assistant football coach.
Mitchell, like Paul Douglas a native of Maine, was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 1980. He was elected in 1982 and re-elected in 1988. He served as Senate Majority Leader from 1989-1995. For six consecutive years, Mitchell was voted "the most respected member" of the Senate by a bipartisan group of senior congressional aides.
Alan K. Simpson & Erskine Bowles
Alan K. Simpson and Erskine Bowles were presented the Douglas Award for their work on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The bipartisan commission, created by President Barack Obama, was charged with identifying policies to improve the nation’s fiscal situation. The commission’s report, released in December 2010, did not win support of 14 of the 18 members to be formally endorsed and sent to Congress for adoption.
Alan K. Simpson (born 1931) served three terms in the United States Senate from Wyoming. He followed in the footsteps of his father, Milward Simpson, who was Wyoming’s governor and served in the Senate with Paul Douglas in the 1960s.
Alan Simpson served 12 years in the Wyoming House of Representatives before going to Washington. He served twice as chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee in the Senate and was very active on issues relating to veterans, aging, the environment and immigration. His post-Senate career has been very active. He taught at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and served for two years as Director of the school’s Institute of Politics. He was a member of the Iraq Study Commission in 2006 and has served as a chair of Americans for Campaign Reform.
Erskine Bowles (born 1945) founded three financial services firms in North Carolina before he was named by President Bill Clinton in 1993 to be director of the Small Business Administration. A year later, Bowles was appointed as Clinton’s deputy chief of staff and then he succeeded Leon Panetta as White House Chief of Staff in 1997. He left the White House in 1998 and ran unsuccessfully for the Senate from North Carolina in 2002 and 2004.
In 2005, Bowles was named President of the University of North Carolina system and served until 2010. As system president, Bowles was credited with strengthening the fiscal integrity of the University and making it more responsive to the changing needs of North Carolina.
Robert M. Morgenthau
Robert M. Morgenthau (born 1919) is a New York City native and served 35 years as district attorney in Manhattan. He retired in 2009 at age 90.
Morgenthau also served as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1961 to 1970, with the exception of a few months in 1962 when he ran as the Democratic nominee for governor of New York. He was defeated in that election by Nelson Rockefeller.
A boyhood friend of John F. Kennedy, Morgenthau became known during his tenure as U.S. Attorney for taking on organized crime and white-collar crime. He established a special unit to investigate securities fraud and prosecuted bribery cases against city officials, IRS attorneys and accountants.
As Manhattan District Attorney, Morgenthau continued that reputation. He successfully prosecuted the Bank of Commerce and Credit International in 1991 for laundering massive amounts of money for criminal enterprises. He called the case “the largest bank fraud in world financial history.” Morgenthau was mentor to dozens of lawyers who went on to illustrious careers, including Andrew Cuomo, who became governor of New York, and Sonja Sotomayor, who became an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Eighty-one of his former assistants went on to become judges.
Sandra Day O'Connor
Sandra Day O’Connor (born 1930) was the first woman to be appointed to the United States Supreme Court when President Reagan chose her in 1981. She served until her retirement on January 31, 2006. Identified as one of the court’s conservatives, she became known for her pragmatic and learned moderation and, especially in the later years of her term, became a swing vote on many decisions.
After leaving the court, Justice O’Connor turned her focus to improving civics education across the country and on raising awareness of the importance of an independent, viable judiciary. This work included the creation of the Sandra Day O’Connor Project on the State of the Judiciary in partnership with Georgetown University Law Center. In 2009, she created Our Courts, a program designed to bring interactive civics lessons to classrooms across the country. This effort was expanded and in 2010 became iCivics.
Justice O’Connor began her career as a deputy county attorney in San Mateo, California. She became assistant attorney general in her home state of Arizona in 1965 and was appointed in 1969 to fill a vacancy in the Arizona State Senate. She was re-elected to that seat in 1973 and became the first woman to serve as Senate Majority Leader in Arizona. She was elected a Maricopa County Judge in 1975 and moved to the Arizona State Court of Appeals in 1979.
Justice O’Connor received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2009.
Richard G. Lugar
Richard G. Lugar (born 1932) left the U.S. Senate in 2013 as the longest serving senator in Indiana’s history. He served six terms after his initial election in 1976, and won his final four terms with a two-thirds majority. Throughout his career, Lugar was known for working closely with political rivals to forge solutions to complex policy questions.
Lugar was born in Indianapolis and served on the city’s school board for three years before he was elected mayor of Indianapolis in 1967 at age 35. He served two terms as mayor and worked to unify Indianapolis and surrounding Marion County into one government. His first try for the U.S. Senate came in 1974, but he lost to incumbent Birch Bayh. He defeated Democratic incumbent Vance Hartke two years later.
In the Senate, Lugar became a leader in reducing the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. In 1991, he forged a bipartisan partnership with then-Senate Armed Services Chairman Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) to destroy weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union. He later worked with then-Senator Barack Obama to further that work by focusing on the threat of terrorists’ use of large-scale weapons.
President Obama presented Lugar with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2013.
Carl Levin (born 1934) is the author of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, a federal law that protects government workers who expose wasteful or unethical practices. He also authored the Competition in Contracting Act, which led to significant reductions in federal procurement costs.
Levin was elected to the United States Senate in 1978 and served six terms. He became known for efforts to make government more efficient and more ethical. He was the principle author of the Ethics Reform Act in 1989, which simplified and strengthened ethics requirements for the legislative and executive branches of government and prohibited members of Congress from accepting honoraria from special interests. And, in 1995, he persuaded the Senate to adopt a strong ban on gifts and paid trips to senators.
Levin began his political career on the Detroit City Council and eventually became its president before seeking a Senate seat in 1978. He chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee three times during his career.
Thomas H. Kean & Lee Hamilton
Thomas H. Kean and Lee Hamilton received the Douglas Award for their bipartisan work on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, more commonly known as the 9/11 Commission.
Thomas Kean (born 1935) began his adult life as a teacher of history and government. But, by the age of 32, he had continued the Kean family's legacy of public service by winning a seat in the New Jersey General Assembly. He served there until 1977 when he unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor. He ran for governor again four years later and was elected. He served two terms.
In 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Kean as chairman of the 9/11 Commission. Explaining his appointment, President Bush said, "Tom Kean is a leader respected for integrity, fairness and good judgment. I am confident he will work to make the commission's investigation thorough."
Lee Hamilton (born 1931) represented Indiana’s 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. He is a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Hamilton was appointed vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission in late 2002. The 10-member commission issued its report, which stated that the attacks on the World Trade Center could have been prevented, in 2004. Kean and Hamilton then wrote a book, published in 2006, about the constraints they faced during the commission’s investigation.
Eliot Spitzer (born 1959) made his mark as a federal prosecutor who took on organized crime and political corruption cases, serving from 1986-92 as assistant district attorney in Manhattan. His biggest case was in 1992 when he led the investigation that collapsed the Gambino crime family’s control of New York’s garment and trucking industries.
After a few years in private practice, Spitzer was elected attorney general in New York in 1998, and was re-elected in 2002 with the largest winning margin of any statewide candidate. His investigations of conflicts of interest on Wall Street have been the catalyst for dramatic reform in the nation’s financial services industry. His prosecutions of sophisticated white-collar crimes resulted in some of the nation’s largest fraud recoveries.
Spitzer also led efforts to curtail abuses in the green grocery industry that were hailed as landmark labor rights cases. His investigations of Internet companies and direct marketers resulted in changes to privacy protections for consumers throughout the nation.
Spitzer graduated from Princeton University and received his law degree from Harvard.
Paul S. Sarbanes
Paul Sarbanes (born 1933) represented Maryland in the U.S. Senate for five terms before retiring in 2007. He never received less than 59 percent of the vote in his campaigns for Senate.
Before going to the Senate in 1977, Sarbanes served three terms in the U.S. House, where as a member of the Judiciary Committee he introduced the first article of impeachment - alleging obstruction of justice - against President Richard Nixon in 1974. During his Senate career, he was sponsor of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, which reformed U.S. securities laws in the wake of corporate and accounting scandals, such as those that doomed Enron and Adelphia Communications. He was a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee and served on the Foreign Relations Committee, the Budget Committee and the Joint Economic Committee.
Sarbanes grew up on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. His parents were Greek immigrants and operated a diner in Salisbury.
Arthur Levitt Jr.
Arthur Levitt (born 1931) was the 25th chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and served 10 years, longer than any chairman before him.
Levitt, a native of Brooklyn, was known for his work to protect small investors. He was credited with improving the quality of the financial reporting process, working to maintain the independence of auditors, promoting the use of plain English in financial documents, and battling Internet fraud.
Before joining the Commission, Mr. Levitt owned Roll Call, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill. From 1989 to 1993, he served as the Chairman of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and from 1978 to 1989 he was the Chairman of the American Stock Exchange. He graduated from Williams College in 1952.
William S. Cohen
William S. Cohen (born 1940) is a native of Maine and graduated from Bowdoin College, the same school that Senator Douglas attended. Cohen served as a city councilor and mayor of Bangor, ME, before he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972. After six years in the House, he went to the U.S. Senate in 1978 and served until 1997.
In Washington, Cohen quickly gained a reputation as an advocate for high ethical standards. As a freshman congressman, he was a member of the House Judiciary Committee and was involved in the inquiry concerning President Nixon and his involvement with Watergate. Cohen was one of a small group of Republicans who were the first to break party ranks when they voted in favor of Nixon's impeachment. He later served as a member of the Senate committee that investigated the Iran-Contra scandal involving members of the Reagan administration.
In 1997, Democratic President Bill Clinton appointed Republican Cohen as Secretary of Defense, calling him a man “with an independent, inquiring and creative mind.”
Russell Feingold & John McCain
Russell Feingold and John McCain were presented with the Douglas Award primarily for their work to craft and pass the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as the McCain-Feingold bill.
Russell Feingold (born 1953) spent three terms in the Wisconsin State Senate before winning election to the United States Senate in 1992 by defeating a two-term incumbent. Six years later, he kept a pledge to limit his campaign spending to $1 per voter, and disallowed party soft money from being spent on his behalf. He still won a second term, by defeating Congressman Mark Neumann.
During his years in the Senate, Feingold was recognized by both the Concord Coalition and Taxpayers for Common Sense for his efforts to cut wasteful government spending. He worked for the causes of human rights and authored, with Senator John McCain, legislation that eventually became the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. That legislation imposed limits on campaign spending, including the direct contributions of corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties.
Feingold lost his bid for a fourth term in 2010 to Republican Ron Johnson.
John McCain (born 1936) distinguished himself well before he went to Washington. A Navy pilot, he was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 and spent more than five years as a prisoner of war. He refused an offer of early release. He was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
McCain began his political career when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982. He served just two terms in the House before winning election to the Senate in 1986, succeeding Barry Goldwater, who retired. He earned a reputation as a conservative, but also as one who is not afraid to take a stand that might be contrary to Republican orthodoxy. He reached across the political aisle often, most notably teaming with Democrat Russell Feingold to craft legislation that overhauled the nation’s campaign finance rules.
McCain ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2000 before withdrawing and endorsing George W. Bush. He was the Republican nominee for president in 2008, losing the election to Barack Obama.
From crusading newspaperman to his years in the United States Senate, Paul Simon (1928-2003) set a standard for selfless devotion to the common good.
Simon parlayed his journalism career -- he once owned a chain of 14 newspapers -- into a successful political career, first in the Illinois General Assembly and then in the United States Congress. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988.
Simon was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1954 and served there until 1963, when he moved to the state Senate. In 1968, he was elected lieutenant governor, the only one in state history to be elected from a different party than the governor (Richard Oglivie). He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for governor in 1972, spent two years in education at Sangamon State University and Harvard, and then was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974.
In 1984, Simon won the Senate seat that once had been held by Paul Douglas by defeating three-term incumbent Charles Percy. Known for wearing bowties, Simon served two terms in the Senate before deciding against a re-election effort in 1996.
After leaving office, Simon established the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.
Abner Joseph Mikva (born 1926) served with distinction in all three branches of government, from Illinois General Assembly to Congress, to the courts, and then to the White House.
He began his political career in the Illinois House of Representatives in 1956 and served there for 10 years. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1968 from Illinois’ 2nd District. He lost his bid for a third term in 1972, but moved to the 10th District, ran, and won in 1974. He served until 1979 when he was appointed by President Carter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Mikva served on the court until, in 1994, President Clinton persuaded him to leave the bench and serve as White House Counsel, a job he held for about one year. In 1997, Mikva established the Mikva Challenge, a civic leadership program for young people in Chicago.
In an era when it was fashionable to bash government as unwieldy and inefficient, Mika defended it against the cynics. "The closer we live together, cheek and jowl, the more we need government," he said. He was once a neighbor to Paul Douglas and counted Senator Douglas and Adlai Stevenson II as his political mentors.
Arthur S. Flemming
Arthur S. Flemming (1905-1996) was a lifelong Republican. Nevertheless, the first U.S. president to hire him, Franklin Roosevelt, was a Democrat, and the first to fire him, Ronald Reagan, was a Republican. Savvy political watchers could rarely guess where Flemming's influential opinion would land, except that he always stood up for fairness to workers, to women, to all races, and to the elderly.
Flemming was tapped by President Roosevelt in 1939 to be a Republican member on the Civil Service Commission. Later, he would join President Eisenhower’s cabinet as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. He joined the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in 1974, but was fired by President Reagan in 1981 after criticism of what Flemming believed were attempts by that administration to roll back some of the civil rights victories.
The New York Times once characterized Flemming as “an evangelist in the cause of good government and regards the development of qualified people to administer burgeoning public programs as a critical national problem." In 1994, Flemming received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton, who called Flemming a man who "transcended party, generation and race seeking consensus on some of the great issues of our day."
A. Ernest Fitzgerald
At the height of the Vietnam War, cost overruns and waste were business as usual in the industries that manufactured the arms of war. As a top-ranking civilian Air Force manager, A. Ernest Fitzgerald (born 1926) would not put up with business as usual. He told a Senate committee in 1968 about the $2 billion in cost overruns he had already reported to his superiors.
This decision cost Fitzgerald dearly, and immediately. Within two weeks of his testimony, he was told that his promised civil service tenure was a computer error, and his department was restructured to eliminate his position. It took four years and nearly $1 million dollars in legal fees to win reinstatement.
Trouble didn’t slow Fitzgerald down. He found bureaucratic snafus and waste that made headlines into the 1980s, including stories of $200 hammers and $670 armrests. He also steadfastly refused to sign Standard Form 189, an order created by the Reagan administration that prohibited federal employees from disclosing information.
His candor and decades-long fight against waste in the Defense Department led ultimately to whistleblower protections that are now firmly part of federal law - the Civil Reform Act of 1978 and the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989.
Archibald Cox (1912-2004) is remembered for his uncompromising defense of the law against a chief executive. In 1973, Cox was the special prosecutor who subpoenaed secret tape recordings from President Richard Nixon during the U.S. Senate’s investigation of the Watergate burglary. When Nixon tried to scuttle the subpoena with an offer to provide written summaries of the tapes, Cox refused. This standoff led to what became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.”
On October 20, 1973, hours after Cox explained his decision to reject President Nixon’s compromise, the president ordered Attorney General Elliott Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson refused and resigned in protest. Nixon turned to Richardson’s chief deputy, William Ruckelshaus, who also refused and resigned. Cox was ultimately dismissed that evening by Robert Bork, who was then Nixon’s solicitor general.
Archibald Cox was born in 1912 in New Jersey. He graduated from Harvard Law in 1937. His 60-plus-year legal career included time as a Harvard professor and service as United States solicitor general from 1961-65 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.
Michael J. Mansfield
Michael J. Mansfield (1903-2001) served as majority leader in the United States Senate for 16 years - the longest serving majority leader in the Senate’s history. His leadership spanned the presidencies of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Mansfield served in the Navy, the Army and the Marine Corps. Early in his life, he worked as a copper miner and eventually became a history professor at the University of Montana. A Democrat, he was elected to Congress in 1942 and to the Senate in 1952. He became majority leader in 1961. He later served as ambassador to Japan.
As a senator, Mansfield sought to do what was right, rather than what was expedient or popular. Many in his party were alienated by his early support of the Civil Rights movement, and his later criticism of the war in Vietnam. He held the Senate together in crisis after the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King. He pushed for the Senate to investigate the Watergate scandal, and then oversaw the transition of power from Nixon to Ford.