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December 15, 2022

Edward M. Kennedy Institute Honors Dr. Anthony Fauci, Bill Russell with Award for Inspired Leadership

Honorees recognized at Kennedy Institute’s annual dinner

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate presented its annual Award for Inspired Leadership to Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President, and posthumously to the late Boston Celtics legend and civil rights icon Bill Russell.

The event, “A Celebration of Inspired Leadership,” was hosted at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute at Columbia Point and welcomed scores of leaders from Massachusetts’ government, business, medical, and philanthropic sectors. Dr. Yvonne Greenstreet and Dr. John Maraganore, the current and former CEOs of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, served as co-chairs for the event, with Ambassador Victoria Reggie Kennedy and the Honorable Martin J. Walsh named as Honorary Co-chairs.

In his remarks, Kennedy Institute Board Chairman Bruce A. Percelay linked the impact of Dr. Fauci and Bill Russell’s commitment to build a better country to the work the Kennedy Institute launched earlier this year on The Senate Project, a series of Oxford Union-style debates between leading U.S. Senators aimed at identifying opportunities for them to find common ground and areas for compromise and consensus, in the spirit of Senator Kennedy’s across-the-aisle collaborations with Republicans.

“Much like the courage demonstrated by our honorees, we are encouraging Senators from across the country to stand up for our democracy and help protect America’s most valuable asset,” Chairman Percelay said. “It was an audacious idea—that we could actually help heal the Senate—but given our success to date, we feel we can make a difference.”

Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services, Marylou Sudders, in introducing Dr. Fauci, referred to the title of Senator Kennedy’s autobiography, saying, “Dr. Fauci was a ‘True Compass’ for all of us during the pandemic. Dr. Fauci worked every day to ensure that Americans were informed with the facts, the science, what he knew, and what he didn’t.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci and Senator Kennedy first began working together in the 1980s to address what became known as the HIV/AIDS epidemic. As the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases in 1984, Dr. Fauci worked closely and continuously with Senator Kennedy and his staff to understand how the government could better support the disenfranchised communities with resources to educate and combat the growing epidemic, as he describes in an oral history on the Kennedy Institute website. The partnership between the Senator and Dr. Fauci and coalition they built ensured broader access to clinical trials and research, healthcare coverage, and drug approval for community programs across the country; culminating in a major appropriations bill to address the AIDS epidemic and raise national awareness about the disease.

“I’m really moved and very touched by all the wonderful feelings of love and affection that have been thrown on me tonight,” said Dr. Fauci. He recalled his many interactions with Senator Kennedy in the early months of what became the HIV/AIDS epidemic, said in remembering the senator, “The first thing I can think of was honesty. He was a person who had as his highest quality the goal of true honesty and being passionate about being a truth-teller.” Dr. Fauci added that in a time when "untruth and distortion have become normalized” in Washington, “We need another ‘Lion of the Senate’ to really roar and get us back on track at a time when we really need him.”

Boston Celtics Hall of Fame Center Bill Russell first met members of the Kennedy family during the civil rights movement in the 1960s and visited Senator Edward Kennedy in the hospital in 1964 when the senator was recuperating from a plane crash in Western Massachusetts. Russell remained close with the Senator and the extended Kennedy family for the rest of his life, participating in the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Foundation annual golf tournament almost every year. He attended the Senator’s funeral in Boston in 2009.

The Kennedy Institute’s annual dinner attracted more than 200 guests and raised support for the Kennedy Institute’s civic education programs, public forums, and digital exhibits that aim to support Senator Kennedy’s vision for an institute encouraging participatory democracy, invigorating civil discourse, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the civic life of their communities. bring the late Senator Kennedy’s vision of civic engagement to life.

Since opening to the public in 2015, the Kennedy Institute has offered a range of exhibits, interactive educational offerings, community events, and topic programs designed to engage visitors of all ages about the role of the United State Senate in our government. The Kennedy Institute has welcomed more than 100,000 students online and in-person for “Senator for a Day” learning programs that engage students directly in researching, debating, compromising, and voting on legislation.

This past June, in response to the deepening division and partisanship in the U.S. Senate, the Kennedy Institute became a founding partner in The Senate Project, a debate series intended to revive the Senate’s once-strong culture of seeking compromise and consensus by hosting debates between prominent U.S. Senators of widely diverging political viewpoints aimed at identifying possible common ground.

You can view more images of the 2022 Annual Dinner here

About the Award for Inspired Leadership The Edward M. Kennedy Institute Award for Inspired Leadership recognizes an individual who possess qualities that reflect the legacy of Senator Edward M. Kennedy: modeling exemplary leadership, inspiring others to action, and making a difference through service to the community and country.

About the Edward M. Kennedy Institute The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is dedicated to educating the public about the important role of the Senate in our government, encouraging participatory democracy, invigorating civil discourse, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the civic life of their communities. Learn more via

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