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JFK Library Foundation asks for nominations of frontline workers for special Profile in Courage Award

JFK Presidential Library.
JFK Presidential Library.Blake Nissen for The Boston Globe

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation is asking the public to submit stories of people in their communities who are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic for a special Profile in Courage Award.

The foundation will choose several submissions about people who risk “their own health to help heal the sick, protect our most vulnerable, and provide critical support services to citizens across the country,” the group said in a statement. The award was announced by Caroline Kennedy and her son, Jack Schlossberg, in a video message Thursday morning.

“Each year at this time, we look forward to marking my father’s birthday by presenting the annual Profile in Courage Award to public servants who put the country first,” Kennedy said. “But this year everything has changed, and we want to honor the courage we are seeing all around us.”


A ceremony for the frontline workers chosen will be held once larger gatherings are allowed, according to the statement.

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award was created by the foundation in 1989 to honor the former president’s commitment to public service and celebrate his May 29 birthday. The award is presented every year to members of the public who “have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences,” according to the foundation.

“Courage was the quality my grandfather most admired,” Schlossberg said. “Every day, I am inspired by the courage shown by the doctors, nurses, first responders, public safety officials, and other essential workers risking everything to help others during the COVID pandemic. We look forward to honoring the heroes who are keeping us safe when we need it most.”

Stories can be submitted in writing or with video and photographs at www.jfklibrary.org/covidcourage or on social media using the hashtag #COVIDCourage. Nominations will be accepted through August, and the representatives for the award will be announced in the fall.


The award is named after former president Kennedy’s 1956 book, “Profiles in Courage”, which details the courage of eight US senators when faced with pressure by their respective parties and constituents, according to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum website. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1957.

A sterling silver lantern, designed by Caroline Kennedy’s husband, Edwin Scholssberg, symbolizes a beacon of hope and represents the Profile of Courage Award, the foundation said. Past recipients of the award include former presidents Barack Obama, Gerald Ford, George H. W. Bush, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, former US Senator John McCain, Liberian peace activist and Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee, US Representative John Lewis, and former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

Recipients are chosen by a bipartisan committee of national, political, and community leaders, the group said. Chaired by Martha Minow, the 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University and former dean of Harvard Law School, the committee includes:

  • Stacey Abrams, former Georgia House Democratic Leader
  • David Axelrod, political strategist and founder of the Institute of Politics at The University of Chicago
  • Joaquin Castro, US representative (D-Texas)
  • Christopher Dodd, former chairman and chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America and former US senator
  • Donna F. Edwards, guest commentator for MSNBC and former US representative
  • Adam Frankel, senior advisor to Emerson Collective and Fenway Strategies and former speechwriter to President Barack Obama
  • Sherrilyn Iffil, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund
  • Bob Inglis, former US representative and Profile in Courage Award honoree
  • Caroline Kennedy, former US ambassador to Japan and honorary president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation
  • Marne Levine, vice president of global partnerships and business development at Facebook
  • Beth Myers, principal of Buckminster Strategies
  • Ronald L. Sargent, chairman of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation
  • Jack Schlossberg, grandson of John F. Kennedy

Matt Berg can be reached at matthew.berg@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.