Pickering, Albright highlighted at HHH Awards Celebration June 6

Madeleine Albright, Other Dignitaries Join Awards Celebration to Honor Public Leaders for Building Hope and Opportunity for Future Generations

During a spirited celebration of public service hosted by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, five distinguished individuals who have spent much of their lives in service to the common good received the 2016 Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Award.

Presented with the overarching theme of “building hope and opportunity for future generations” at a gala dinner and ceremony June 6, the awards recognize leaders who have taken exemplary measures to protect the environment, promote peace and security, create equal opportunities for students of color, identify bipartisan solutions to social issues, and build inclusive communities.

Nearly 400 people, including many dignitaries from politics, business, and the nonprofit sector, attended the event to recognize the awardees. They included former Vice President Walter Mondale, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Margaret Chutich, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, and several members of the University’s Board of Regents. (Photos here)

"The leaders we're honoring are making remarkable contributions in building hope and opportunity for future generations," said Eric Schwartz, dean of the Humphrey School. He noted that current Humphrey School students share the commitment of the honorees to make the world a better place, even in the face of our current political challenges.

“These challenges only steel the determination of our students, who are not na├»ve about obstacles to progress, but are hopeful and optimistic about the boundless potential of humankind,” Schwartz said.

The 14th Annual Public Leadership Award winners included Thomas Pickering, former ambassador to the United Nations, for his lifelong commitment to addressing global challenges and promoting peace and security through diplomacy.

In their remarks, the honorees touched on similar themes: The rewards of being involved in public service; the need for more tolerance and cooperation in the political arena; and the important role played by the Humphrey School in preparing leaders of the future.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was invited to present the Public Leadership Award to Thomas Pickering, whom she described as “a very dear friend and one of America’s finest diplomats.” During his 40-year career, Pickering served as U.S. ambassador to several countries, as well as ambassador to the United Nations.

Albright noted that Pickering played a significant diplomatic role in several international hot spots during his career, including Israel, El Salvador, and Colombia.

“Few people have served our country better or in more capacities than Tom Pickering,” Albright said. “When I became Secretary of State [in 1997], there were some questions as to whether or not—as the first woman—I would be comfortable having ‘strong men’ in my orbit. I put those questions to rest by bringing Ambassador Pickering, who was a legend in the Foreign Service, back from retirement.”

“I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to serve our country, and to be recognized for that service,” said Pickering, while also expressing his concerns about the current presidential campaign.

“We find at this stage a preoccupation with calumny and intolerance. It is not the future of our country to be led by these values,” Pickering said. “It would be a serious mistake to ignore that, not only at home but elsewhere, since we are the leading economy and military in the world. The U.S. is highly esteemed for its principles and values, the heights to which the rest of the world seek to attain.”

Former Sen. David Durenberger echoed those sentiments, recalling a time earlier in his career when politicians from both parties were much more willing to cooperate on important issues such as civil rights, rights for those with disabilities, and air pollution.

He noted that Hubert Humphrey was one of those politicians.

“Hubert was successful when working with Republicans in the Senate. I know from experience that the same bipartisan interdependence was true of Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Because it builds trust in those we serve,” said Durenberger.

The Public Leadership Awards were established in honor of the Humphrey School’s namesake, Hubert H. Humphrey. During the past 13 years, the annual awards dinner has raised more than $1 million for Humphrey School student scholarships.

Many students rely on scholarships, fellowships, and other financial support to cover the cost of their education. One of those students, Tori Duoos, told the attendees the fellowship she received was the difference for her. When Duoos entered the Humphrey School in 2014, she was selected as one of four inaugural recipients of the Marvin Borman Public Service and Community Engagement Fellowship.

Duoos said the Borman Fellowship allowed her to complete her Master of Public Policy degree this year, so she can pursue her passion for working with refugee communities.

“In pursuing a career in human rights, it’s practically expected that you complete an unpaid internship, if not several. Without generous donations like the Borman family’s, young people who are passionate about human rights may be unable to follow this career path,” Duoos said. (See photos of the event here)



I’m delighted to be back in the Twin Cities, and very pleased to be with friends and supporters of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, which is one of my favorite institutions, led now by one of my favorite people, Eric Schwartz.

It’s my great pleasure to introduce Tom Pickering, one of America’s finest diplomats, who is also a very dear friend. You may not know that American embassies in other countries typically have a hallway decorated with photos of all the former ambassadors. When I went on trips as Secretary of State, I would run into Tom’s picture everywhere. This was after four years of seeing his charismatic face starting back at me at the American mission at the UN, and as many people reminded me when I took that job, “you’re no Tom Pickering.”

Few people have served our country better or in more capacities than Tom Pickering, who is a legend in the Foreign Service. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of the 2016 Humphrey Public Leadership Award than Tom. As with all our distinguished honorees tonight, he has made the world a better place.


We are now in a crisis that I think perhaps rivals, without too much distortion, the election of 1861. The future of our country is at stake. We find at this stage a preoccupation with calumny and intolerance. It is not the future of our country to be led by these values.

I am deeply concerned. But I’m not so concerned because in this school, those of you out there who have your lives and careers before you, can make a unique contribution in public service. It is an approach to life whose greatest reward is not monetary realization. In many ways, that is replaced by the great rewards that result from serving your fellow human beings. I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to serve our country, and to be recognized for that service.
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