The Profile in Courage Award presented to Gerald Ford by Ted Kennedy in 2001 (Wikipedia)

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award to honor Kentucky Secretary of State Michael G. Adams

– Adams to be recognized for expanding ballot access and standing up for free and fair elections –

BOSTON, MA – The 2024 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award® will be presented to Kentucky Secretary of State Michael G. Adams (R) for expanding voting rights and standing up for free and fair elections despite party opposition and death threats from election deniers.

The award, which recognizes public servants at all levels of government who have risked their careers by putting the public interest ahead of their own political standing, will highlight the critical role played by Secretaries of State throughout the country in overseeing elections and upholding our democracy.  

On Sunday, June 9, 2024, Caroline Kennedy and her son Jack Schlossberg will present the award in a live-streamed ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, MA. We invite you to join us from wherever you are to celebrate Secretary Adams’ act of political courage

ADAMS JFKL24 PICA Honoree Announcement


“As our nation heads to the polls this November to choose the next President of the United States, courageous Secretaries of State like Michael Adams are on the front lines protecting access to the ballot and ensuring that our nation remains a beacon of democracy,” said Caroline Kennedy, Honorary President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.  

“There is nothing more important to our democracy than electing Secretaries of State, like Michael Adams, who are fighting against efforts to disenfranchise voters and anyone that threatens the integrity of our elections,” said Jack Schlossberg, a member of the Profile in Courage Award Committee. 

“President Kennedy’s admonition to put country before self still resonates today, and rings true now more than ever,” said Adams. “I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the election officials and poll workers across America who, inspired by his call, sacrifice to keep the American experiment in self-government alive.” 



Shortly after taking office in 2020, Adams put partisanship aside and worked with Democratic Governor Andy Beshear to facilitate safe access to the ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic – despite fierce opposition from his party and threats made to him and his staff. Adams oversaw moves to make absentee voting easier and to increase the number of in-person voting days in Kentucky, which historically had some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country.   

In the wake of the bitter 2020 presidential election that tested democracy and elevated ballot access as an issue for both major political parties, Adams made ballot access expansion permanent by championing bipartisan legislation that allowed, among other things, three additional days of no excuse, in-person voting. In addition, the legislation affords due process to absentee voters whose ballots are rejected due to mismatched signatures, and it created large centers where voters from any precinct can cast their ballots. As he advocated for this legislation, Adams knew it was deeply unpopular with much of his party, but he persisted and faced primary challenges from candidates who embraced voter fraud claims. The bill made Kentucky the first state with a Republican-controlled legislature to expand voting rights in 2021, bucking the trend of more restrictive voting laws passed in the aftermath of the 2020 election and amid rampant election denialism and voter fraud claims. 

About the Profile in Courage Award 

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation created the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award® in 1989 to honor President Kennedy’s commitment and contribution to public service. The award is presented annually to public servants who have made courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences. The award is named for President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, which recounts the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers, incurring the wrath of constituents or powerful interest groups, by taking principled stands for unpopular positions.  

The Profile in Courage Award is represented by a silver lantern symbolizing a beacon of hope, designed by Edwin Schlossberg. Previous recipients include former U.S. Presidents Barack ObamaGerald Ford, and George H. W. Bush; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy; U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords; former U.S. Senator John McCain; Liberian peace activist and Nobel laureate Leymah Gbowee; U.S. Representative John Lewis; and former California State Senator and U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis

The recipients of this prestigious award for political courage are selected by a distinguished bipartisan committee of national, political, and community leaders. Committee members are B. Marc Allen, Former President Boeing International and Chief Strategy Officer, The Boeing Company; David Axelrod, Political Strategist and founder of the Institute of Politics at The University of Chicago; Joaquin Castro, U.S. Congressman, (D-TX 20th District); Carlos Curbelo, Former U.S. Congressman (R-FL 26th District); Christopher Dodd, former Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, former U.S. Senator (D-CT); Caroline Kennedy, Honorary President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; Marne Levine, Former Chief Business Officer, Meta; Claire McCaskill, former U.S. Senator (D-MO), NBC Political Analyst; Ronald L. Sargent, Chairman, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; Jack Schlossberg, Grandson of President Kennedy; and Tatiana Schlossberg, Climate Change and Environmental Journalist. 

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization founded in 1984 to provide financial support, staffing, and creative resources for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. The Kennedy Presidential Library and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history, and culture, the process of governing and the importance of public service.  

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