2013 Awards Gala

November 6, 2013 ♦ Arena Stage ♦ Washington, D.C.

Celebrating America's Future

An evening of celebration honoring the best of the progressive movement, featuring our honorees…

Margery Tabankin Lifetime Achievement Award

Leo W. Gerard Progressive Champion Award

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II Paul Wellstone Citizen Leadership Award

With special guests Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Donna Edwards and Van Jones

Missed the gala? Watch the full event (courtesy of Public Interest Pictures).

About the Honorees

Margery Tabankin was born in Newark, N.J., and attended the same high school as that famous and controversial chronicler of Jewish life, Philip Roth. When she was 15, she heard Tom Hayden speak about his community organizing in Newark, and it was that speech that set the course of her professional life.

While a reporter and student activist at the University of Wisconsin, Marge joined Students for a Democratic Society and later, as president of the National Student Association, was one of only 300 Americans invited by the North Vietnamese to visit North Vietnam. Her education also included training with Saul Alinsky, the founder of modern community organizing.

She headed the privately funded Youth Project, was executive director of Americorp’s VISTA under the Carter administration and then became executive director of the ARCA Foundation, managing and leveraging the philanthropic giving of Nancy Reynolds and her family.

Already a consultant to Barbra Streisand and her philanthropy, Marge came to Los Angeles and soon became the director of the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee. She formed her own consulting company, Marge Tabankin and Associates, advising private family foundations, individuals and corporations with their strategic philanthropy and political giving.

» Read Isaiah J. Poole’s essay on Margery Tabankin


Leo W. Gerard is international president of the United Steelworkers, the largest and most diverse industrial union in North America.

A native of Ontario, Canada, Gerard is the son of a union miner who started working at a nickel smelter at 18 and rose through the ranks to become the USW’s seventh president. He is married to Susan Gerard and has two children.

Under Gerard’s direction, the 850,000-member USW has heightened its focus on reversing the alarming decline of U.S. manufacturing. He has worked to inject workers’ rights into trade agreements, investment priorities and corporate governance. He has also led campaigns against unfairly traded imports, often testifying before congressional subcommittees that handle issues related to trade and industry.

He is a founding board member of the Apollo Alliance, the nonprofit public policy initiative launched by the Campaign for America’s Future that helped popularize the concept of “green jobs” as a crucial component of the nation’s economic revitalization and energy independence. He is also co-chairman of the board of the Blue Green Alliance, a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the green economy.

» Read Dave Johnson’s tribute to Leo Gerard


Rev. Dr. William Barber II is the president of the North Carolina state conference of the NAACP and is also an NAACP national board member and chair of the Legislative Political Action Committee.

Rev. Dr. Barber was born in Indianapolis in 1963 to parents who were both active in the church and in social justice. He has a bachelor’s degree in public administration from North Carolina Central University and a masters of divinity from Duke University. He is married to Rebecca McLean Barber and has five children.

Rev. Barber has helped to lead the fight for voter rights, just redistricting, health care reform, labor and worker rights, protection of immigration rights and educational equality. Under his leadership, the NAACP developed a new voter registration/voter participation system that in North Carolina led to the registration of 442,000 new voters and provided access to 1.5 million voters.

Rev. Barber has been arrested numerous times for civil disobedience as he stood for educational, economic and equal justice, most recently during the series of Moral Monday protests at the state legislature in Raleigh, N.C. The Rev. Jesse Jackson said of the protests, “Citizens of conscience have no choice but to rally once more to protect our rights. Moral Monday in North Carolina shows the way.”

» Read Bill Scher’s look at the activism of Rev. Dr. William Barber II

View a gallery of scenes from the 2013 Awards Gala. (Photos by Michael Temchine.)