The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) alumni, students, supporters and friends gathered at the 32nd Annual Scholarship Awards Dinner on July 13, 2022, to celebrate the accomplishments of four honorable leaders in the business and government relations sectors. The night was full of laughter, good conversation and great company. Each person in attendance shared something in common: the desire to foster the next generation of courageous leaders.
TFAS presented the bipartisan Congressional Leadership Awards to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania; the Business Leadership Award to Jade West, chief government relations officer of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors; and the Kevin Burket Alumni Service Award to Andrew Powaleny ’08, PPF ’11, director of public affairs at PhRMA.
Each of these four individuals has continually demonstrated their commitment to personal responsibility, service, civil dialogue and providing opportunity for all through their outstanding leadership. TFAS was honored to recognize them for their accomplishments.
Current Business + Government Relations student and DeJoy-Woś Family Foundation Scholarship recipient Elizabeth Smith ’22 opened the awards ceremony with remarks on her experience with TFAS. She shared about her internship experience at American Legion and how grateful she feels for the lessons she has learned this summer.
“The TFAS program has been a blessing, not only to help my professional career, but to help me develop as a person,” she said.
“At the beginning of the summer, Chris Ullman spoke to us about curiosity and having the courage to ask questions. I have referenced that speech numerous times as opportunities arose for me to embody what it means to have courage. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and answered with ‘why not?’ as I have embarked on many adventures throughout my summer.”
Recognizing Honorable Leaders in Government
Robby Aiken, vice president of federal affairs at Pinnacle West Capital Corp., introduced the first award recipient of the night, Sen. Sinema. He highlighted her humble beginnings, persistence and courage, which propelled her to where she is today as the senior senator of Arizona.
Each of you here tonight represents future leaders in business and government. The lessons that you learn through your participation in TFAS programs… will set you up for success for years to come.” – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema,
2022 Congressional Leadership Award Recipient
Sinema shared words of encouragement and advice in her acceptance speech. She highlighted the importance of working across the aisle to uphold the principles of a free and democratic society, and she noted the importance of the intersection between business and government. She also took a moment to address the TFAS students in attendance.
“Each of you here tonight represents future leaders in business and government,” she said. “The lessons that you learn through your participation in TFAS programs about the importance of protecting our constitutional democracy, ensuring ethical behavior and preserving free enterprise and encouraging economic growth – these skills will set you up for success for years to come.”
Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, the 2021 recipient of the Congressional Leadership Award, presented Sen. Toomey with the second congressional award of the evening. Sullivan reiterated the importance of honorable leadership in drawing young people to the importance of principled public service based on the critical principles that made this country great. He shared how committed Toomey is to these principles and to lending a helping hand to the next generation.
Toomey recognized his fellow honorees and shared his thoughts on the importance of TFAS’s mission of developing future leaders and focus on teaching the principles of limited government, free-market economics and honorable leadership. Like Sinema, he also offered suggestions and advice for the students in the room.
“These bedrock principles are not to be taken for granted,” he said. “We have to earn them, we have to preserve them, and we have to fight to do that…. My advice is follow the example of William F. Buckley: vigorously defend our freedom as the birthright of Americans and try not to impugn the motives of decent, honorable people who see the world differently than we do.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in presenting Jade West with the Business Leadership Award, described her as “…one of the most essential behind-the-scenes players in Washington,” with the Business Leadership Award. He recognized her indispensability in the free enterprise world, her reliability, persistence, intelligence and humility. He illustrated that West’s ability to lead without fear is a mark of her tenacity and courageous leadership.
In her acceptance remarks, West showcased the central importance of business to not just the economy, but freedom. She explained that democracy and capitalism are the two best political and economic systems the world has created, even with their faults, and encouraged Americans to find a love for their country again. West mentioned how the work of TFAS does just this.
“What TFAS does is so critically important,” she said. “TFAS’s mission is to create courageous leaders, and today a courageous leader not only has to have a firm and fundamental belief in the principles that make us great. You also have to have the willingness and the ability to listen. It takes courage to listen to what the other side is saying. It takes courage to debate and discuss those willing to debate and discuss.”
TFAS’s mission is to create courageous leaders, and today a courageous leader not only has to have a firm and fundamental belief in the principles that make us great. You also have to have the willingness and the ability to listen.” – Jade West, 2022 Business Leadership Award Recipient
In addition to West’s service in the business sector, TFAS was delighted to recognize Andrew Powaleny with the Kevin Burket Alumni Service Award for his commitment to supporting the next generation of leaders through his continued involvement with TFAS. Powaleny reflected on his first TFAS experience 14 years ago and shared how what he learned that summer has remained with him and helped him grow throughout his professional career.
“TFAS values have been pillars of my own professional growth: individual liberty, personal responsibility (my own favorite), and economic freedom,” he said. “These values I hold dear. TFAS has a mission to fight for common sense principles, which have been the bedrock of our democratic republic.”
TFAS has a mission to fight for common sense principles, which have been the bedrock of our democratic republic.” – Andrew Powaleny ’08, PPF ’11
TFAS is grateful to the many sponsors of the 32nd Annual Scholarship Dinner, including the Louis DeJoy and Aldona Woś Family Foundation, the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, Pinnacle West and more, and looks forward to recognizing more courageous leaders and supporting the up-and-coming generation of business and government leaders next year.
Watch this year’s Scholarship Dinner video recording below.