President Barack Obama on Feb. 15 will present the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second highest civilian honor, to Jeanne Manford, the mom who founded PFLAG – Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
In 1972, Manford and husband Jules co-founded PFLAG, which has grown into a national organization.
The White House said, “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 died in January at the age of 92.
Others also will receive the award.
In a statement on Feb. 8, the president said, “It is my distinguished honor to award these individuals the 2012 Citizens Medal for their commitment to public service. Their selflessness and courage inspire us all to look for opportunities to better serve our communities and our country.”
The ceremony will take place at the White House beginning about 10:45 a.m.
The medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.
The president said he is recognizing Americans whose work has had a significant impact on their communities but may not have garnered national attention.
• Rachel Davino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach and Victoria Soto of Newtown, Conn. The White House statement said: On Dec. 14, 2012, the names of six courageous women were forever etched into the heart of our nation as unthinkable tragedy swept through Newtown, Connecticut. Some of these individuals had joined Sandy Hook Elementary School only weeks before; others were preparing to retire after decades of service. All had dedicated themselves to their students and their community, working long past the school bell to give the children in their care a future worthy of their talents.
• Dr. T. Berry Brazelton of Boston. 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, which is used worldwide to recognize the physical and neurological responses of newborns, as well as emotional well-being and individual differences.
• Adam Burke of Jacksonville, Fla. 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.
• Mary Jo Copeland of Minneapolis. 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.
• Michael Dorman of Fuquay-Varina, N.C. Dorman is the founder and executive director of Military Missions in Action, a North Carolina-based nonprofit that helps veterans with disabilities, both physical and mental, achieve independent living. • Maria Gomez of Washington, D.C. 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.”
• Pamela Green Jackson of Albany, Ga. Green Jackson is the founder and CEO of the Youth Becoming Healthy Project, a nonprofit 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.
• Janice Jackson of Baltimore. Jackson is the creator and program director of Women Embracing Abilities Now, a nonprofit mentoring organization servicing women and young ladies with varying degrees of disabilities. She is also a professor at the University of Baltimore.
• Patience Lehrman of Philadelphia. Lehrman is an immigrant from Cameroon and the National Director of Project SHINE, 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.
• Billy Mills of Fair Oaks, Calif. 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.
• Terry Shima of 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, Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal collectively to the 442nd RCT, the 100th Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service.
• Harris Wofford of Washington D.C. 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.