November 14, 2019
U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION BETSY DEVOS
HONORED AS 2019 WOMAN OF VALOR
Larry Kudlow Presented with Gentleman of Distinction Award
Actor Kristy Swanson Granted the Inaugural Resilience Award
WASHINGTON, DC – Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) presented Betsy DeVos, the 11th U.S. Secretary of Education, with its Barbara K. Olson Woman of Valor Award on Wednesday night at its Annual Awards Gala held at DAR Constitution Hall.
IWF honored Larry Kudlow, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council, with the Gentleman of Distinction Award and actor Kristy Swanson with the inaugural Resilience Award. Tammy Bruce, President of IWF’s sister organization Independent Women’s Voice, was the master of ceremonies.
Leading up to the 19th Amendment centennial, IWF is celebrating women’s right to vote and the incredible progress that we have made in the last 100 years. The gala was adorned with yellow roses to commemorate the suffragists.
“It’s because of these women, and the many others who have come since to reform our laws and shape our culture, that we live in a country where women are free to pursue any dream and their own visions of happiness,” said IWF President Carrie Lukas. “Independent Women’s Forum stands on the shoulders of these giants in the work we do today.”
Sec. DeVos was recognized as someone who has been fighting for change all her life–particularly championing underserved children’s access to quality education. Sec. DeVos knows that “education is only in part about test scores, skill development and making sure that each individual has a better chance to lead an independent and fulfilling life,” said IWF Chairman and Woman of Valor Award presenter Heather R. Higgins.
Sec. DeVos, a mom of four and grandmother of eight, described a story of Terra, a determined mom on a mission to fight for her son who was in a school that was failing him. Terra’s son has Down Syndrome and was bullied at school and wasn’t learning like he could. Eventually, Terra helped lead the fight in Columbus to establish the John Peterson Special Needs scholarship program, which helped nearly 5,000 other students in Ohio, like Terra’s son, to learn.
“Education, how and where students learn, should be determined by students and their families… not by chance nor by government,” said Sec. DeVos. “It's about developing their abilities and pursuing their aspirations. It's about their futures, and ultimately, it's about ours.”
IWF’s first Woman of Valor Award was given in 2004 to Lynne Cheney, and has since been awarded to other extraordinary recipients, including: Fmr. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Kellyanne Conway, Carly Fiorina, Rep. Barbara Comstock, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Fmr. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Brinker, Fmr. Rep. Mary Bono, and R. Gaull Silberman.
Larry Kudlow was presented with the Gentleman of Distinction Award for his dedication to creating a healthy and flourishing society with vast opportunities for all. Kudlow, also a former media host, was introduced by Abby Moffat, Chief Executive Officer at the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation. Moffat described Kudlow as a “topspin forehand” and said his advocacy has led to record low unemployment and expansion of new business opportunities and startups, ultimately helping “real people lead better lives.”
In the midst of the battle against socialism, Kudlow reminded the audience that throughout history, “The people who stand for freedom and values and enterprise and civility always win.” And he noted, “Freedom is always the right path. Freedom is such a precious commodity.”
Kudlow then acknowledged the toxicity and incivility saturating today’s public discourse, noting that “We owe it to our country… to be able to have a conversation that seeks to persuade, not destroy.”
Actor Kristy Swanson was presented with the first Resilience Award. Swanson, best known for her lead role as the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer and most recently playing Lisa Page in the epic onstage production of FBI Lovebirds, has been an outspoken conservative in Hollywood, where progressive beliefs are the norm.
“I’m interested in highlighting the legacies of those who came before us, those who worked extremely hard and sacrificed so much to build this city upon a hill that we call home, this ray of light in what can be a very dark world,” said Swanson. She recognized that one of the biggest responsibilities we have as Americans is to preserve and advance the ideals that make our country so special and worth fighting for.
The event drew over 500 guests. Some notable guests in attendance: Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Sen. Josh Hawley, Rep. Kay Granger, Rep. Gary Palmer, Rep. Virginia Foxx, Rep. Bill Flores, Rep. Warren Davidson, Rep. Ben Cline, Rep. Thomas Massie, Rep. Jackie Walorski, Ed and Cathy Gillespie, Janet and Uttam Dhillon, Kimberly Reed, James Blew, Linda McMahon, Charmaine and Jack Yoest, David and Adele Malpass, Tammy Bruce, Paul Teller, Myles Pollin, Yvonne Boice, Giovanna Cugnasca, and Byron York.
Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well-intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.