Lutheran Day logo

Paul Simon Award

The Paul Simon Courage in Public Service Award was developed by the Lutheran Network for Justice Advocacy (now Lutheran Advocacy-Illinois), Lutheran Child and Family Services, and Lutheran Social Services of Illinois to recognize a public official from Illinois who exemplifies the late Senator Simon’s commitment to developing just, compassionate, and responsible public policy. Patti Simon, Senator Simon’s widow, helped introduce the award in 2004.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, a protégé of Paul Simon, and his successor in the U.S. Senate, was the recipient of the first annual Paul Simon Courage in Public Service Award in 2005.

At the inauguration of the Paul Simon Award, Patti Simon said, "You too, can have the same courage a public official has when he or she comes up with legislation that isn’t very popular, and do something that really helps a lot of people. You can do the same in your communities, in your churches, in your schools. And so I hope this is something you remember ... that this award is made in the memory of Paul for a public person, and you too, are a public person."

2021 Paul Simon Award Recipient

2021 Paul Simon Award Winner

Throughout her career, State Representative Robyn Gabel has maintained a strong commitment to serving the people of Illinois as an advocate for women, children, and families. She served as Executive Director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy organization, from 1988 to 2010 and previously worked as legislative aid to Alderman (now Congressman) Luis Gutierrez.

Her legislative priorities include affordable and accessible health care, environment and sustainability, education, and economic development. She has a B.A. from Beloit College, an M.S.P.H. from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, and an M.J. in Health Law from Loyola University Chicago. She has one daughter, Lilah.

Past Paul Simon Award Recipients


2019 Paul Simon Award Winner

State Representative Gregory Harris


2017 Paul Simon Award Winner

George H. Sheldon
Former Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services


2016 Paul Simon Award Winners

Sen. Patricia Van Pelt and Rep. Kelly Cassidy


2015 Paul Simon Award Winners: Dan Kotowski and Judy Baar Topinka

State Sen. Dan Kotowski and Judy Baar Topinka


2014 Paul Simon Award Winner: Julie Hamos

Julie Hamos
Former Director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services


2013 Paul Simon Award Winner: Dawn Clark Netsch

Dawn Clark Netsch
Former Illinois Senator and Comptroller


2012 Paul Simon Award Winner: Men and women serving in the Illinois National Guard

Men and Women serving in the Illinois National Guard


2011 Paul Simon Award Winner: Michelle Saddler

Michelle Saddler
Secretary of Illinois, Department of Human Services


2010 Paul Simon Award Winner: Kwame Rauol

State Senator Kwame Rauol (13th Senate District)


2009 Paul Simon Award Winner: Governor Pat Quinn

Pat Quinn
Illinois Governor


2008 Paul Simon Award Winner: Barbara Flynn-Currie

Rep. Barbara Flynn-Currie
Majority Leader, Illinois House of Representatives (25th District)


2007 Paul Simon Award Winner: Joe Hartzler & Lane Evans

Rep. Lane Evans and Joe Hartzler
Former Illinois Congressman (17th Congressional District), Assistant U.S. Attorney


2006 Paul Simon Award Winner: James R. Thompson

James R. Thompson
Former Illinois Governor & Member of the 911 Commission


2005 Paul Simon Award Winner: Dick Durbin

Senator Dick Durbin
Deputy Majority Leader, United States Senate