James Madison Award for Distinguished Public Service

Since 1960, the American Whig-Cliosophic Society at Princeton University has bestowed its highest honor, the James Madison Award for Distinguished Public Service (JMA), to an individual who has taken up the arduous but righteous cause of dedicating their life to the betterment of society. From diplomats to activists, and from Presidents of the United States to foreign royalty, this award has honored the men and women courageous enough to confront some of society’s biggest challenges. With a passion for progress and a penchant for problem-solving, JMA recipients have improved the communities in which they live.

This year, we are proud to announce Representative Terri Sewell ’86 as the 2020 James Madison Award Recipient. A careful review of Rep. Sewell’s record reveals why she is so deserving of this award. Representing Selma, Alabama, the crown jewel of Alabama’s Black Belt, Rep. Sewell was elected to Congress in 2011 as an advocate for economic progress and upward mobility. She has tackled issues of systemic poverty and unemployment in her district while also being a fierce advocate for voting rights nationwide.

Throughout her career, Representative Sewell has continued to break down racial and gender barriers. After graduating from Princeton University, Harvard Law School, and Oxford University, she worked diligently as a securities lawyer and public finance lawyer for Maynard, Cooper & Gale, where she was the first Black woman to make partner. Years later, she would also become the first African American woman to be elected to Congress from Alabama. Now, on the 60th anniversary of the first James Madison Award, in what has already been a historic year for the Society, we are also humbled to recognize Rep. Sewell as the first African American Woman James Madison Award recipient.

Past Recipients: