27th Annual Bipartisan Congressional Awards

Heroes in Health: An Event to Celebrate Community, Strength, and Healthy Aging

Each year, the Alliance holds the Bipartisan Congressional Awards to honor individuals and companies making great strides to further aging research and innovation in aging. The Awards also have a deeper purpose: to remind lawmakers of the nation’s bipartisan commitment to advance medical research to improve the lives of millions of Americans.

Learn about the 2020 honorees by clicking on the name of each award or scrolling below!

The 27th Annual Bipartisan Congressional Awards feature the following awards:

  • Claude Pepper Award for Advancing Healthy Aging: presented each year to a Democratic member of Congress who is leading the way for policies encouraging medical research, innovation, and care to benefit Americans as they grow older.
  • Distinguished Public Service Award: presented each year to a Republican member of Congress who is leading the way for policies encouraging medical research, innovation, and care to benefit Americans as they grow older.
  • Silver Innovator Award: presented to an individual who anticipates and embraces the evolution of high quality research aligned with the needs of older patients.
  • Excellence in Leadership for Older Adults Award: presented to an individual who has illustrated outstanding leadership, initiative, and commitment to advancing the health of aging adults in their own community.
  • Daniel Perry Founder’s Awardpresented to an individual who is helping to change the paradigm of how we view aging and well-being as we age.
  • Perennial Hero Award: presented each year to honor an older individual who is actively contributing to create positive societal change and serves as a role model for people of all ages.
  • Champion of Science Award: a new award for 2020, this is presented to an individual who has demonstrated courage and integrity in the pursuit of science that protects the lives of older adults and all Americans.
Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) (Claude Pepper Award for Advancing Healthy Aging)

On January 3, 2019, Frank Pallone, Jr. was sworn in for his 16th full term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Pallone represents New Jersey’s Sixth Congressional District, which covers most of Middlesex County, as well as the Bayshore and oceanfront areas of Monmouth County.

Throughout his tenure in Congress, Pallone’s legislative accomplishments have been geared to the protection and restoration of environmental resources and making health care more affordable and accessible.

In 2019, Pallone was sworn in as the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over issues pertaining to energy, environment, health care, commerce, and telecommunications.

As Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee during the 114th and 115th Congress’, Pallone led Democrats in passing key health care and environmental bills that were signed into law by President Obama.  In March 2015, Congress passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which improved the quality of health care for America’s seniors while also lowering costs, ensured that over eight million children and pregnant women continue to have access to health care coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and provided $8 billion to fund Community Health Centers.

In May 2016, Pallone led Democratic efforts to pass the first comprehensive update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) since its original passage in 1976. The TSCA update was a long-overdue step forward in protecting families and communities from toxic chemicals. The law will remove dangerous chemicals like lead, mercury and asbestos out of consumer products and the environment.

Pallone also led Democratic negotiations in the House on the 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in December 2016.  The Cures law provides billions of dollars in funding for Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot initiative, research to increase our understanding and treatment of brain disorders, and grants for states and communities hard-hit by the opioid abuse crisis.  It also includes important reforms to our broken mental health system.

Pallone is focused on fighting the opioid epidemic in New Jersey and throughout the country. He led democratic efforts to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016, which improves the tools available to prescribers to prevent opioid abuse. CARA also expands access to lifesaving opioid overdose reversal drugs and Pallone helped secure an additional $1 billion to combat the opioid epidemic as part of the 21st Century Cures Act, which also passed in the 114th Congress.  21st Century Cures allocates billions towards cutting edge medical research and development of new treatments.

From 2006 to 2014, Pallone served as the top Democrat on the Committee’s Subcommittee on Health. As Chairman during the 111th Congress, Pallone played a key role in authoring and passing the Affordable Care Act. The landmark law extends health care coverage to millions of Americans, while driving down health care costs and reigning in abusive tactics used by insurance companies to deny medical treatment.

Pallone was also one of the main authors of food safety reform, which emphasizes prevention and safety measures that help ensure food is safe before it reaches the kitchen tables of millions of families. In the 112th Congress, Pallone introduced the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reform Act of 2012 to ensure that Americans have access to safe and effective drugs and medical devices.

Pallone has successfully worked throughout his career to stop ocean dumping and offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean. He has obtained millions of dollars for shore protection and beach replenishment work along a large stretch of the Jersey Coast, for dredging of the area’s navigation channels and for the maintenance of his district’s National Recreation Area, Sandy Hook. He has also championed issues important to the state’s commercial and recreational fishing industries.

Pallone is a leader in protecting the integrity of the Medicare guarantee and Medicaid programs, ensuring food safety, strengthening the federal Superfund program to clean up toxic waste sites, strengthening the nation’s clean water laws, and protecting our shores against the threat of offshore drilling.

Frank Pallone, Jr., was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, where he grew up and still resides. The son of a policeman, Pallone attended local public schools and earned an academic scholarship to Middlebury College. After graduating cum laude from Middlebury in 1973, Pallone received his master’s degree in international relations at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He earned his law degree at Rutgers University in 1978, and has been admitted to the bar in four states: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Florida.

Pallone began his political career in his home city of Long Branch, getting elected to the City Council in 1982 and winning re-election four years later. In 1983, Pallone was elected to the state Senate, representing the Monmouth County coastline. He was re-elected in 1987. During his tenure in the state Legislature, Pallone distinguished himself as an advocate for environmental issues and senior citizen concerns, and prioritized providing constituent services.

On November 8, 1988, Frank Pallone, Jr., was elected to the House of Representatives from New Jersey’s former Third District, encompassing parts of Monmouth and Ocean counties. In March 1992, a new Congressional district map for New Jersey was adopted. Portions of the former Third District were merged with parts of two other districts to create the Sixth Congressional District, taking in large portions of Middlesex and Monmouth counties. Pallone was first elected to the Sixth District seat in November 1992.

Pallone’s Central Jersey district is an ethnically diverse area with a wide range of business and industry. Light and heavy manufacturing facilities provide jobs for thousands of area residents. Central Jersey is on the cutting edge of high technology research and development. The district is home to Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey and Monmouth University. Tourism, primarily centered in the coastal areas, is vital to the regional economy. While the district has a predominantly suburban character, the cities of New Brunswick, Asbury Park and Perth Amboy are key urban centers.

Pallone married the former Sarah Hospodor in 1992. They have three children, daughters Rose and Celeste, and a son, Frank.

Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL) (Distinguished Public Service Award)

Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis is a Republican from Palm Harbor, representing Florida’s 12th Congressional District, which includes all of Pasco and northern parts of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. He was first elected to Congress on November 7, 2006. Gus serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He is the Ranking Member of the VA Economic Opportunities Subcommittee and a Member of the VA Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, Health Subcommittee and Communications and Technology Subcommittee. With 27 bills he authored signed into law between 2015 and 2018, Congressman Bilirakis was recently designated as the Most Effective Lawmaker in the State of Florida by the Center for Effective Lawmaking at Vanderbilt University.

Working in a bipartisan manner, his main priorities include controlling government spending, creating jobs for middle class Americans, finding ways for government to operate smaller and smarter, and lowering taxes. He is also committed to strengthening homeland security, improving education, increasing access to quality health care, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, protecting Veterans’ benefits, ensuring the long-term viability of Social Security and Medicare, and improving emergency preparedness and response.

Reverend Dr. Derrick C. DeWitt Sr. (Silver Innovator Award)

Dr. DeWitt is President of the Board of Directors for the Maryland Baptist Aged Home Development Corporation. He is also Chief Finance Officer for the Maryland Baptist Aged Home, President of the Board of Directors for Intersection of Change, Inc., President of the Board of Clergy United for the Transformation of Sandtown-Winchester (CUTS), and moreover, Senior Pastor of First Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Baltimore City. Dr. DeWitt is also an active board member of the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health Food and Faith Project.

Dr. DeWitt is a high school graduate of Baltimore City College. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration (Averett University, Danville, Virginia), and Master and Doctor of Arts Degrees in Theology and Biblical Counseling (Freelandia Bible College and Seminary, Broadway, Virginia).

Dr. DeWitt was licensed to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in 1989 and ordained in 1991. In 2002, he founded the Garment of Praise Baptist Church in Clinton, Maryland. In 2007, he returned to his native hometown, Baltimore, to pastor First Mount Calvary Baptist Church. In 2014, Dr. DeWitt was inducted into the College of Ministers and Laity at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr. DeWitt is a retired military officer with over 30 years of combined military, federal, and private sector non-profit business management experience, and 20 years of experience as an executive level decision-maker with planning, coordination, and priority goal-setting responsibilities.

Dr. DeWitt possesses extraordinary compassion and vision for outreach. His humanitarian efforts largely impact his hometown, as well as abroad to Africa, where he and his wife support orphanages in Kenya and Uganda. His church operates model food programs, a weekly soup kitchen, free summer camps for youth, a weekly addiction ministry, affordable housing, and much more. DeWitt is credited with helping struggling businesses and churches become financially solvent and has become a noted expert in business finance strategies and practices.

Dr. DeWitt is a loving husband to Lady Cassandra DeWitt and a devoted father to Breona, Derrick, II, Everardo, and Anointe’.

Governor Larry Hogan (Excellence in Leadership for Older Adults Award)

Larry Hogan was sworn in as the 62nd governor of Maryland in 2015. He was overwhelmingly re-elected in November 2018, receiving the most votes of any Maryland gubernatorial candidate and becoming the second Republican governor to be re-elected in the history of the state.

In his first inaugural address, Governor Hogan reminded citizens of Maryland’s history as a state of middle temperament and pledged to advance the best ideas, regardless of which side of the political aisle they come from. He is recognized nationally as a strong, independent leader who consistently delivers real results and achieves common sense, bipartisan solutions.

Last year, he was elected by his fellow governors to serve as chairman of the National Governors Association and launched a national infrastructure initiative. He is also Chairman of the regional Chesapeake Executive Council, and consistently has one of the highest job approval ratings in the country.

Jack M. Guralnik, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H. (Daniel Perry Founder's Award)

Dr. Jack Guralnik is a Professor of Epidemiology & Public Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Guralnik spent 25 years doing epidemiologic research at the National Institute on Aging, NIH and was Chief of the intramural Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography and Biometry. He has received multiple professional awards during his career. In 2005 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Tampere, Finland and in 2009 received the NIH Director’s Mentoring Award.  He is Board Certified in Public Health and General Preventive Medicine.

Geri and Jim Taylor (Perennial Hero Award)

Geri Taylor has an MPH from Columbia University with a concentration in bio-statistic and an RN. During her forty-five year career, she was a successful health care executive in New York City, serving in senior executive positions at Beth Abraham Hospital and the Jewish Guild for the Blind. Geri’s legacy includes building a Medicare/Medicaid program to provide nursing-home eligible seniors with medical services in their homes. This program is now serving approximately eighty thousand people in New York City.

Jim has a math degree from DePauw University and an MBA at the University of Chicago. During his 30 years in IBM finance, he also served four years as president of the White Plains NY Board of Education.

Geri was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2012, and since that time the couple have spoken to over ten thousand people around the country and Europe in order to educate others about the disease, reduce the stigma, and encourage participation in Alzheimer’s clinical trials. The New York Times published an acclaimed twelve page article Fraying at the Edges, as a special section of the paper on May 1, 2016 about Geri’s journey with Alzheimer’s. In July 2017, Geri spoke to the Board of Directors of the Alzheimer’s Association in London at the AAIC conference. In December, 2017, the couple spoke at the OECD International Alzheimer’s Conference in Switzerland.

In addition to their speaking engagements, Geri and Jim are actively engaged in several national Alzheimer’s projects, serving on executive steering committees; and FDA panels to review Alzheimer’s drugs and devices. They recently spoke to the US Biogen organization in Orlando and have been invited to speak to the Biogen Board of Directors meeting in Boston. Geri was in Biogen’s drug trial of aducanumab for four years and is now restarting the medication.

Their most recent project is co-founding MAP (Memory Advocates Program) a peer-to-peer support organization to assist newly diagnosed individuals who have cognitive issues and their care partners. Trained volunteers will bring emotional support, information regarding online resources about the disease, information about local support services, and assist clients in finding a clinical trial, if the clients are interested. A New York City pilot, partnering with NYC’s CaringKind and NYU medical school neurologists, will hopefully begin next year.

Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. (Champion of Science Award)

Dr. Fauci was appointed director of NIAID in 1984. He oversees an extensive portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat established infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis and malaria as well as emerging diseases such as Ebola and Zika. NIAID also supports research on transplantation and immune-related illnesses, including autoimmune disorders, asthma and allergies. The NIAID budget for fiscal year 2020 is an estimated $5.9 billion.

Dr. Fauci has advised six presidents on HIV/AIDS and many other domestic and global health issues. He was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world.

Dr. Fauci also is the longtime chief of the Laboratory of Immunoregulation. He has made many contributions to basic and clinical research on the pathogenesis and treatment of immune-mediated and infectious diseases. He helped pioneer the field of human immunoregulation by making important basic scientific observations that underpin the current understanding of the regulation of the human immune response. In addition, Dr. Fauci is widely recognized for delineating the precise ways that immunosuppressive agents modulate the human immune response. He developed effective therapies for formerly fatal inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases such as polyarteritis nodosa, granulomatosis with polyangiitis (formerly Wegener’s granulomatosis), and lymphomatoid granulomatosis. A 1985 Stanford University Arthritis Center Survey of the American Rheumatism Association membership ranked Dr. Fauci’s work on the treatment of polyarteritis nodosa and granulomatosis with polyangiitis among the most important advances in patient management in rheumatology over the previous 20 years.

Dr. Fauci has made seminal contributions to the understanding of how HIV destroys the body’s defenses leading to its susceptibility to deadly infections. Further, he has been instrumental in developing treatments that enable people with HIV to live long and active lives. He continues to devote much of his research to the immunopathogenic mechanisms of HIV infection and the scope of the body’s immune responses to HIV.

In a 2020 analysis of Google Scholar citations, Dr. Fauci ranked as the 41st most highly cited researcher of all time. According to the Web of Science, Dr. Fauci ranked 7th out of more than 1.8 million authors in the field of immunology by total citation count between 1980 and January 2020.

Dr. Fauci has delivered major lectures all over the world and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest honor given to a civilian by the President of the United States), the National Medal of Science, the George M. Kober Medal of the Association of American Physicians, the Mary Woodard Lasker Award for Public Service, the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, the Robert Koch Gold Medal, the Prince Mahidol Award, and the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award. He also has received 45 honorary doctoral degrees from universities in the United States and abroad.

Dr. Fauci is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, as well as other professional societies including the American College of Physicians, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the American Association of Immunologists, and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. He serves on the editorial boards of many scientific journals; as an editor of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine; and as author, coauthor, or editor of more than 1,300 scientific publications, including several textbooks.