Elizabeth Dole

Paralyzed Veterans of America to honor former Senator Elizabeth Dole with 2024 Gordon H. Mansfield Congressional Leadership Award at PVA Gala

Post Date: March 28, 2024
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WASHINGTON, DC (Mar. 28, 2024) – Paralyzed Veterans of America today announced Senator Elizabeth Dole as the recipient of its 2024 Gordon H. Mansfield Congressional Leadership Award. Senator Dole was selected for this prestigious award due to her extensive history of advocacy and support for the healthcare of Veterans and their caregivers. Her dedication to the well-being of the nation’s heroes and their families has left an indelible mark on the community, embodying the spirit of the Mansfield Award.

PVA will present the award to Senator Dole during an evening VIP reception at the Igniting Change Gala on April 12, 2024, at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

“We are honored to celebrate the achievements and profound difference made by Senator Dole throughout her illustrious career as a public servant and advocate,” said Carl Blake, Chief Executive Officer for Paralyzed Veterans of America. “Her dedication to our nation’s heroes and their caregivers has continued to strengthen our shared mission to make a positive impact on the lives of Veterans and individuals with disabilities, as well as those who support and care for them.”

First presented to her late husband, Senator Bob Dole, in 2015, this award recognizes elected officials who have consistently demonstrated exemplary leadership and unwavering support for PVA’s priorities in the areas of Veterans health care and benefits, as well as disability civil rights. Previous honorees include U.S. Representative Mike Bost, former U.S. Representative Jim Langevin, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, the late U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, and former U.S. Representative Jeff Miller.

PVA's Igniting Change Gala will celebrate Women Veterans, influencers, and innovators – like Sen. Dole – who work hard to create an inclusive world in the areas of accessibility, employment, and medical care. The star-studded affair will feature entertainment by award-winning country music artist Martina McBride and bring together industry, government, and the public sector to honor those leading the fight for disability civil rights. Sports broadcasting icon Hannah Storm will serve as emcee and sports industry pioneer Bonnie-Jill Laflin will be a special guest. Former U.S. Navy Captain and NASA Astronaut Wendy Lawrence will be the keynote speaker.  Among the evening's honorees are the Target Corporation, which will receive PVA's 2024 Inclusivity Award. Many more honorees, special guests, and presenters will be unveiled in the days ahead. 

The gala is made possible by a variety of generous sponsors and supporters, including the Jeffrey M. Carlton Foundation, Penske Automotive Group, Penske Truck Leasing, and TriWest Healthcare Alliance.

Companies or individuals who wish to learn more about PVA’s Igniting Change Gala, become a sponsor, or purchase a table should contact SponsorshipTeam@PVA.org or visit PVA.org/Gala.

PVA photos will be available upon request.

About Paralyzed Veterans of America
Paralyzed Veterans of America is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or diseases. The organization ensures veterans receive the benefits earned through service to our nation; monitors their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funds research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis. As a life-long partner and advocate for veterans and all people with disabilities, PVA also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, and provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation. With more than 70 offices and 33 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans of America serves veterans, their families, and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Learn more at PVA.org.

About Elizabeth Dole

A native of Salisbury, North Carolina, Elizabeth Dole graduated with distinction from Duke University as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, earned a law degree from Harvard Law School, and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Harvard University. She served as Deputy to the Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs during the Nixon Administration, launching a career of dedication to public safety, for which she received the Humanitarian Award from the National Commission Against Drunk Driving and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. She was selected for induction into the Safety and Health Hall of Fame International for her transportation, workplace, and blood safety accomplishments. In the fall of 2012, the National Safety Council presented her their “Flame of Life Award” as one of the century’s foremost leaders on safety.

Her resume includes six years as a member of the Federal Trade Commission, and two years as Assistant to President Reagan for Public Liaison. In 1983, she became the first woman to be appointed U.S. Secretary of Transportation, serving five years. She later served as U.S. Secretary of Labor where top priorities included workplace safety, resolving the very bitter 11-month Pittston Coal Strike, and initiatives to help youth­ at-risk.

Throughout her career, she has strived to help women and minorities reach their full potential. Elizabeth Dole learned to leverage resources, look for innovative solutions and inspire people to work together to champion breakthrough issues of quantum importance during her years in public service. For example, as Secretary of Transportation, she worked with the late Senator Lautenberg and the late Senator Lugar to ensure enactment of the 21-year-old drinking age. At virtually the same time, she issued a landmark regulation which is credited with widespread enactment of the first state safety belt laws and air bags in cars. These three actions, the “Trifecta”, have saved nearly 500,000 lives to date with a projected 20,000 per year going forward.

Elizabeth Dole was only the second woman to serve as president since Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross in 1881. She totally restructured the world’s largest humanitarian organization during her eight years as president, serving as a volunteer in her first year. She led a massive transformation of the way the Red Cross collects, tests, and distributes one-half of the nation’s blood supply, to ensure that blood is safe to give and safe to get. Following the Red Cross, she sought the Republican presidential nomination, becoming the first viable female candidate from a major political party. Elected in 2002, Senator Dole became the first woman to represent North Carolina in the United States Senate.

In 2012, she founded Caring for Military Families: The Elizabeth Dole Foundation to raise awareness and support for the 5.5 million young spouses, mothers, fathers and other loved ones caring for our nation’s wounded warriors at home. She is leading a movement to expose the military caregiver crisis and generate critical resources to help these hidden heroes.

Senator Dole has received numerous awards. Most recently, she received the Sylvanus Thayer Award from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; the George Catlett Marshall Medal from the Association of the United States Army; the Gerald R. Ford Medal for Distinguished Public Service; the Hiring Our Heroes President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement bestowed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. She has also received the Distinguished Service Medal from the American Legion; the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, Department of the Army; and the Military Officers Association of America’s National Service Award. She was honored by Public Counsel with its prestigious William O. Douglas Award, the AARP Andrus Award, and the Former Members of Congress Association’s Civic Statesmanship Award, among others. Senator Dole resides in Washington, D.C.