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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."

Past Paul Simon Award Recipients


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

2017 Paul Simon Award Winner


Sen. Patricia Van Pelt & Rep. Kelly Cassidy

2016 Paul Simon Award Winners


State Sen. Dan Kotowski & Judy Baar Topinka

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


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

2014 Paul Simon Award Winner: Julie Hamos


Dawn Clark Netsch, Former Illinois Senator and Comptroller

2013 Paul Simon Award Winner: Dawn Clark Netsch


Men & Women serving in the Illinois National Guard

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


Michelle Saddler, Secretary of Illinois, Department of Human Services

2011 Paul Simon Award Winner: Michelle Saddler


State Senator Kwame Rauol (13th Senate District)

2010 Paul Simon Award Winner: Kwame Rauol


Pat Quinn, Illinois Governor

2009 Paul Simon Award Winner: Governor Pat Quinn


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

2008 Paul Simon Award Winner: Barbara Flynn-Currie


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

2007 Paul Simon Award Winner: Joe Hartzler & Lane Evans


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

2006 Paul Simon Award Winner: James R. Thompson


Senator Dick Durbin, Deputy Majority Leader, United States Senate

2005 Paul Simon Award Winner: Dick Durbin