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The President recognizes the 13 recipients of the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal. A tradition dating back more 40 years and established by President Nixon, the award is one of the highest honors a civilian can receive. February 15, 2013.
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Maria Gomez (Washington, DC)
Gomez founded, Mary's Center 25 years ago with the mission to build better futures through the delivery of health care, family literacy and job training. Mary's Center is part of the working group launching First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Read Let's Move Campaign." Prior to establishing Mary's Center, Maria was a public health nurse with the D.C. Department of Health. She has also worked for the Red Cross, directing community education programming and disaster services, and with the Visiting Nurses Association. She currently serves as Regional Representative for the South East to the National Council of la Raza, and previously served two terms on the board of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington.
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Billy Mills (Fair Oaks, California)
Mills co-founded and serves as the spokesman for Running Strong for American Indian Youth, an organization that supports cultural programs and provides health and housing assistance for Native American communities. Mills gained prominence during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, when he unexpectedly won a Gold Medal in the 10,000 meter run. Today, he remains the only American to ever win this event. At the time Mills competed in the Olympics, he was a First Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. After the Olympics, Mills, an Oglala Lakota, was made a warrior by his tribe. In 1986, Mills and Eugene Krizek, president of Christian Relief Services, joined forces to found Running Strong.
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Terry Shima (Gaithersburg, MD)
Shima was drafted into the US Army on October 12, 1944 as a replacement for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This unit was composed of Japanese Americans who volunteered for combat duty. In November 2011, the US Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal collectively to the 442nd RCT, the 100th Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service. Shima served as Executive Director of the Japanese American Veterans Association (JAVA), a nonprofit organization that publicizes and assists Japanese American military veterans and their families, from 2004 to 2012 and is now chair of its Outreach and Education Committee.
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Dr. T. Berry Brazelton (Boston, MA)
Brazelton is one of the foremost authorities on pediatrics and child development as well as an author, and professor. One of Brazelton's best known achievements was the development of the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS), which is now used worldwide to recognize the physical and neurological responses of newborns, as well as emotional well-being and individual differences. In 1993, he founded the Brazelton Touchpoints Center® (BTC) at Boston Children's Hospital where he continues to promote strengths-based, family-centered care in pediatric and early education settings around the world.
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Patience Lehrman (Philadelphia, PA)
Lehrman is an immigrant from Cameroon and the National Director of Project SHINE (Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders), an immigrant integration initiative at the Intergenerational Center of Temple University. SHINE partners with 18 institutions of higher learning, community-based organizations, and county and city governments across the country. SHINE engages college students and older adults to provide language and health education, citizenship and civic participation lessons to immigrant communities. Lehrman also mentors inner-city high school students, provides free meals to low-income children in the summer and serves as an election official. She holds three Masters Degrees from Temple University.
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Pamela Green Jackson (Albany, GA)
Green Jackson is the Founder and CEO of the Youth Becoming Healthy Project (YBH), a non-profit organization committed to reducing the epidemic of childhood obesity through nutrition, fitness education and physical activity programs. YBH was created in memory of Pamela Green Jackson's only brother, Bernard Green, who died in 2004 from obesity-related illnesses. YBH provides resources for during and after school wellness programs for elementary and middle school students as well as a summer wellness camp where the students learn about exercise, nutrition and can participate in martial arts, walking club and dance programs.
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Michael Dorman (Fuquay-Varina, NC)
Dorman is the founder and executive director of Military Missions in Action, a North Carolina-based non-profit that helps veterans with disabilities, both physical and mental, achieve independent living. All veterans who have served are eligible to receive services including home modification, rehabilitation and family assistance. Since 2008, the organization has completed more than 100 home modification projects and shipped thousands care packages to soldiers.
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Mary Jo Copeland (Minneapolis, MN)
Copeland founded Sharing and Caring Hands in 1985, which has served as a safety net to those in the Minneapolis area through the provision of food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical and dental assistance. Sharing and Caring Hands assists thousands of people a month, and is staffed almost entirely by volunteers. Copeland, who currently receives no salary for her work, has served as its director since its opening and still greets every client entering the center and conducts intake interviews.
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Jeanne Manford (New York, NY)
Manford and her husband, Jules, co-founded in 1972 a support group for parents of gay children that grew into the national organization known as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Manford had always supported her son Morty, but was inspired to act after the police failed to intervene while Morty was beaten and hospitalized during a Gay Activists Alliance demonstration in April 1972. In the years that followed, Manford continued to march and organize, even after losing Morty to AIDS in 1992. Today, PFLAG focuses on creating a network of support and advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Manford passed away in early January at the age of 92.
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Janice Jackson (Baltimore, MD)
Jackson is the creator and program director of Women Embracing Abilities Now, (W.E.A.N.) a nonprofit mentoring organization servicing women and young ladies with varying degrees of disabilities. She is also a professor at The University of Baltimore. Jackson has actively advocated on behalf of people with disabilities and currently serves on the board of directors for The League for People with Disabilities, the Hoffberger Center for Professional Ethics at the University of Baltimore, and The Image Center of Maryland. She also serves on the Community Advisory Council at the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities at Kennedy Krieger Institute, and is a counselor at Kernan Rehabilitation Center. She has also founded two support groups, We Are Able People (W.R.A.P.) and Women On Wheels & Walking (W.O.W.W.).
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Harris Wofford (Washington, DC)
Wofford served as a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania from 1991 to 1995, and from then to 2001 was the chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service. From 1970 to 1978 he served as the fifth president of Bryn Mawr College. He is a noted advocate of national service and volunteering. He began his public service career as counsel to the Rev.Theodore Hesburgh on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and was an early supporter of the Civil Rights movement in the South in the late 1950s. He became a volunteer advisor and friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1961, Kennedy appointed him as special assistant to the President for civil rights. He was instrumental in the formation of the Peace Corps and served as the Peace Corps' special representative to Africa and director of operations in Ethiopia. On his return to Washington in 1964, he was appointed associate director of the Peace Corps. In 1966 he became the founding president of the State University of New York's College at Old Westbury.
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Adam Burke (Jacksonville, FL)
Burke is an Iraq combat veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart which he received for injuries occurred by a mortar attack while running combat operation in Iraq. In 2009 he opened "Veterans Farm," a 19 acre handicap-accessible farm that helps teach veterans of all ages how to make a living from the find healing in the land. He has been awarded numerous accolades for his work, including the 2011 Good Person of the Year award from the Good People Foundation and the Star of Honor from Work Vessels for Veterans.
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Roberta Diaz Brinton has devoted her time and talents to improving science and technology education for Los Angeles students. As Director of the University of Southern California's Science, Technology and Research (STAR) Program, Brinton has opened the doors of opportunity for thousands of disadvantaged and minority inner-city youth. Brinton receives the Citizens Medal for encouraging America's next generations to reach for the stars.
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Cynthia Church turned a personal battle with cancer into a force for progress and change. Dismayed by the lack of resources for women of color with breast cancer, Church founded Sisters on a Mission, Inc, an African-American breast cancer support network in Delaware. Church receives the Citizens Medal for confronting the scourge of this terrible disease and working to halt its spread.
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Touched by childhood tragedy, Betty Chinn brings hope to those who have fallen on hard times. Left homeless as a child in China, Chinn became mute. When she came to America, she found both her voice and her mission: aiding those without shelter on our own shores. Today, Chinn provides meals twice a day as expressions of gratitude to a welcoming nation. Chinn receives the Citizens Medal for renewing America's promise by serving those in need.
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Physical limitations have not hindered Mary K. Hoodhood's determination to strengthen her community. Though a car accident left her paralyzed, Hoodhood began volunteering to feed the hungry through her local Meals on Wheels program. In 2001, Hoodhood founded Kids' Food Basket which provides meals to thousands of children in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. Hoodhood receives the Citizens Medal for her remarkable efforts.
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Devoted to preserving our nation's public lands, Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam has inspired thousands of America's youth to protect our natural bounty. Her vision to offer land restoration and maintenance service opportunities became a reality with the birth of the Student Conservation Association. Putnam receives the Citizens Medal for helping ensure that our nation's treasured public lands are enjoyed by future generations.
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Beginning with a wagon full of coffee and sandwiches, Lisa Nigro's mission to aid those living on the streets of Chicago has inspired us all. Her wagon gave way to a restaurant for homeless men and women, expanding with partner organizations to provide housing, job training, and vital support to Chicagoans affected by poverty. Nigro receives the Citizens Medal for her tireless service to her fellow citizens.
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Parent and advocate, Kimberly McGuiness has been a true champion for deaf students. Her persistent letters, phone calls, and visits to state legislators helped spur the passage of Georgia's Deaf Child's Bill of Rights. She has led workshops, counseled parents, and changed lives, raising awareness and support for deaf education. McGuiness receives the Citizens Medal for demonstrating the results one citizen can achieve.
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Jorge Muñoz recognizes that we all have a stake in one another. By giving his time, energy, and resources to feeding the hungry, he has demonstrated the enduring American values of sacrifice and kindness. Muñoz receives the Citizens Medal for his service and dedication to creating a more hopeful tomorrow for the less fortunate among us.
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When a pregnant teenager with no place to stay arrived at her door, Daisy Brooks welcomed the young woman in. What followed was a lifelong commitment to helping many of North Chicago's young mothers and their infants. Brooks opened Daisy's Resource and Developmental Center to serve as a dormitory, school, and catalyst for young women to improve their lives. Brooks receives the Citizens Medal for offering guidance and support.
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George Weiss, Jr., a veteran of World War II and the United States Marine Corps, reflects our nation's generous and selfless heart. In 1979, he founded the Fort Snelling Memorial Rifle Squad, which today consists of more than 125 volunteers who have performed final military honors for more than 55,000 deceased veterans. Weiss receives the Citizens Medal for his extraordinary service to our nation's veterans and their families.
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For more than 30 years, Milly Bloomquist has created and operated numerous programs to help the poor and underserved in Penn Yan, New York. She founded Food for the Needy and Christmas for the Needy, and recently implemented the Weekend Backpack Program in Yates County, which provides children free meals at their schools. Bloomquist receives the Citizens Medal for her lifelong commitment to serving those in need.
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In 2004, Judith Broder created The Soldiers Project, which has worked to meet the mental health needs of service members, their families, and returning veterans. The Soldiers Project seeks to decrease the disruptive effects of repeated deployments, enhance post-deployment transition and re-integration, and mitigate suffering related to PTSD, TBI, substance abuse, domestic violence, and depression. Broder receives the Citizens Medal for her dedication to those who serve this country.
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Michelle McIntyre-Brewer is a military spouse, mother, and founder of Soldier's List. She founded Soldier's List in 2003 to support high-risk service members and their families. Soldier's List has sent tens of thousands of care packages around the world providing critical medical relief. McIntyre-Brewer works diligently with the military community to educate families about their rights and responsibilities within Tricare and other services offered. McIntyre-Brewer receives the Citizens Medal for going above and beyond on behalf of our troops and their families.
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After Liz and Steve Alderman lost their son, Peter, in the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001, they founded the Peter C. Alderman Foundation. The Foundation works to heal the emotional wounds of victims of terrorism and mass violence by establishing clinics in post-conflict countries including Cambodia, Uganda, Rwanda, and Haiti. The Aldermans receive the Citizens Medal for aiding the victims of conflict who might otherwise go unaided.
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Susan Retik Ger understands the importance of empowering women touched by personal tragedy. After losing her husband on September 11, 2001, she found cause in educating and training Afghan widows and their children. Her strength of spirit has healed hearts and fostered mutual understanding. Retik Ger receives the Citizens Medal for advancing women's rights and the power of America's ideals.
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For decades, Myrtle Faye Rumph has lent her talent and compassion to impacting the lives of at-risk youth. Her commitment to reducing gun and gang violence in her community has steered countless young men and women away from dangerous habits, and altered the course of their futures. Rumph receives the Citizens Medal for her tireless efforts to replace violence and despair in her community with a beacon of hope and humanity.
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Caring for America's injured service members, MaryAnn Phillips embodies strength and grace. An American citizen living in Germany, Phillips volunteers with Soldiers Angels at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center . She spends countless hours at the bedsides of our wounded warriors and their families, caring for them, encouraging them, and grieving with them. Phillips receives the Citizens Medal for putting her patriotism into action for our troops and our nation.
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Roger Kemp faced the ultimate parent's nightmare when his daughter Ali, 19, was killed in the summer of 2002. In response Kemp created The Ali Kemp Defense Education (TAKE) Foundation. Inspired by his belief that his daughter could have survived if she had an edge on her attackers, TAKE has trained more than 46,000 women in self-defense. Kemp receives the Citizens Medal for working to empower young women to prevent themselves from becoming victims.
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As President of Alfalit, a non-profit organization combating illiteracy, Roberto Perez has led the charge for fighting illiteracy from Africa to South America. The organization has helped 7 million people learn to read in 22 countries. Perez previously worked as a social worker and as an ordained Methodist Pastor counseling prison inmates and recovering alcoholics. Perez receives the Citizens Medal for his passion and work on behalf of the less fortunate around the globe.
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In 1992, John Keaveney, a Vietnam combat veteran, founded New Directions, a home for homeless and disabled veterans with addiction and mental health problems. Keaveney overcame personal struggles and turned his life around in the 1980s. He decided that no veteran who asked for help should suffer what he did. When he began his program, he made a promise that no veteran would leave it unless he had a suit, a place to stay, and an income. Keaveney receives the Citizens Medal for ensuring that America keeps its promises to veterans.
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While on vacation with her family in February 2007, Janice Langbehn's partner, Lisa Pond, suddenly fell ill and was rushed to the hospital. Langbehn was refused access to her partner, who had experienced a brain aneurysm and later died alone. She filed a federal lawsuit and her story received attention from President Obama, who went on to revise hospital visitation rights for gay and lesbian couples for hospitals receiving federal Medicare or Medicaid funds. Langbehn receives the Citizens Medal for her efforts to ensure all Americans are treated equally.
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Ida Martin created Bluffton Self Help to assist working families, disabled residents, and senior citizens in the Bluffton, South Carolina area when they suffered a financial crisis. In 2010 alone, Bluffton Self Help provided food to 11,600 people and clothing to almost 9,000 people. Additionally, Bluffton Self Help provided families with short-term emergency financial assistance toward housing and utility assistance, medical assistance, or children's program assistance. Martin receives the Citizens Medal for providing relief to many in moments of despair.
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Vijaya Emani became a role model for victims of domestic abuse because of her strength and determination in overcoming domestic abuse in her own life. She broke a long held taboo in the Indian American community by speaking out about the issue publicly. Although she was killed in a tragic vehicle accident, her example and message live on. Emani posthumously receives the Citizens Medal for her courage in overcoming and speaking out against abuse.
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After observing LA gang members stop at a Hollywood market to listen to a kid playing Brahms on a small violin, she founded the Harmony Project in 2001 to make quality arts education available to those in the most underserved, gang-reduction zones of Los Angeles. The organization has provided instruments and tuition-free music lessons to thousands of children in Los Angeles who would otherwise have no access to classical music. Martin receives the Citizens Medal for replacing violence in children's lives with music.
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Sometimes called the "grandfather of tribal government" in Alaska for his long-held role as Chief of Fort Yukon, Clarence Alexander has worked extensively to clean up the Yukon River, resulting in the closure of numerous open-burning dumps and the removal or recycling of millions pounds of waste. Alexander receives the Citizens Medal for demonstrating how much good a dedicated leader can accomplish.
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The President recognizes the 13 recipients of the Presidential Citizens Medal, a tradition dating back over 40 years and established by President Nixon. The award is one of the highest honors a civilian can receive. October 20, 2011.
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The winners of the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal are each called and told that the President has personally selected them to receive the Citizens Medal - awarded to Americans who have "performed exemplary deeds of service for their country and their fellow citizens". The Presidential Citizens Medal is among the highest honors that a civilian can receive.
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The 2011 Citizens Medal is a chance to recognize extraordinary citizens who have impacted their communities, but who may not have garnered national attention. Now's your chance to nominate an everyday hero in your community. Visit http://WhiteHouse.gov/citizensmedal and nominate a local hero today.
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Take a look behind the scenes as the recipients of the 2010 Citizens Medal visit the White House and meet the President. These selfless individuals truly embody the language of the award, which recognizes American's who have "performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens."
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President Obama honors the 13 recipients of the Presidential Citizen's Medal in a ceremony at the White House. The Citizens Medal recognizes Americans who perform "exemplary deeds of service."