On October 1, 2014, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) hosted the fifth annual Charles T. Manatt Democracy Awards dinner. This year’s awardees included Venezuelan opposition leader Maria Corina Machado, Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). IFES also honored Board of Directors Chairman Peter Kelly and Vice Chair William Hybl, who are stepping down from their leadership responsibilities after decades of service to not only IFES, but to the causes of freedom and democracy.
In his opening remarks, IFES President and CEO Bill Sweeney thanked Kelly and Hybl for their immense contributions to democracy promotion and their important, long-lasting legacies. “Each man has invested personal time and energy helping those without power or a voice secure political legitimacy and viability,” Sweeney noted.
Introducing Senator Moran to receive the Democracy Award, IFES Board Secretary Judy Black noted that the Senator’s commitment to stay in touch with constituents and voice their concerns in Washington demonstrates that he “recognizes that democracy is ultimately about the people.” Following the presentation of Senator Moran’s Democracy Award, IFES Board Treasurer Lesley Israel brought Congressman Hoyer to the stage and detailed his long list of legislative achievements, including his efforts to pass the historic Americans with Disabilities Act and the Help American Vote Act. In their remarks, both Senator Moran and Congressmen Hoyer discussed the critical work that IFES does around the world and thanked its dedicated staff for their commitment to democracy promotion.
As she has been banned from leaving the country by the Venezuelan regime, Machado’s son Henrique Sosa Machado and former Colombian President Andres Pastrana, a dogged advocate for democracy in Venezuela, accepted the award on her behalf. In a message recorded for the dinner, Machado spoke about the confidence needed to organize collectively and fight for democracy in Venezuela and thanked IFES for recognizing her struggle.
The Charles T. Manatt Democracy Awards recognize the exceptional work of individuals who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to freedom and democracy. IFES presents the awards annually to three individuals who embody the character and spirit of former U.S. Ambassador and IFES Board of Directors Chairman Charles T. Manatt. The Democracy Awards are given every year to three individuals — one Republican, one Democrat and one member of the international community — who work tirelessly to build organizations and strengthen networks of professionals that share a common dedication to freedom and democracy.