2019 Character Award

The Character Award recognizes outstanding individuals who have worked hard to live a life of good character and serve as role models for others. These awards bring together character leaders in education, sports, workplaces and communities as a whole. We celebrate prominent advocates from our past as well as today’s influential leaders.

Deadline: February 15, 2019


  • Each person may nominate only one candidate.
  • Self-nominations and group nominations will not be accepted.

Rising Leader in Education
Game Changer in Education
Lifetime Achievement in Education

Rising Leader in Sports
Game Changer in Sports
Lifetime Achievement in Sports

Rising Leader in Workplaces
Game Changer in Workplaces
Lifetime Achievement in Workplaces




See Award Recipients

Rising Star: Umit Alpaslan
A Native of Turkey, Umit was a first generation college grad. In 2012, he was named superintendent of Dove Public Charter Schools. Dove’s student population is more than 80% minority and economically disadvantaged. The U.S. Dept of Ed named the school a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School.

Game Changer: Nadja Pardo
Nadja Pardo has been instrumental in moving the moral compass of education towards positive character development. As Imagine Schools’ National Director of Character Development, Ms. Pardo, along with her school teams, piloted the organization to become a National District of Character in 2013.

Lifetime Achievement/Sandy Award: Scott Raecker
Scott Raecker has served as the Director of the Robert D. & Billie Ray Center at Drake University for the last 21 years. The Ray Center is a national partner of the Josephson Institute of Ethics. Scott’s commitment was also reflected in his 14 years of public service as a member of the Iowa House of Representatives.

Rising Star: Keith Dawkins
Keith Dawkins is the CEO of The First Tee, a sports organization whose mission is to grow the game of golf by transforming the experience that children and families have with the sport. Keith is a 25-year veteran of media and entertainment, most recently serving as EVP of Nicktoons and TeenNick at Nickelodeon Global Network Ventures, Inc.

Game Changer: Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance at Stanford in 1998 with the goal to develop better athletes and better people. PCA has helped lead a sea change in public awareness that positive coaching is the key to getting the best out of youth athletes and everyone else too.

Game Changer: Ken Blanchard

With a passion to turn every leader into a servant leader, Ken shares his insightful and powerful message with audiences around the world through speeches, consulting services and bestselling books. He is a trustee emeritus of the Board of Trustees at Cornell University, and throughout the years has received many awards and honors for his contributions in the field of management and leadership.

Lifetime Achievement: Jim Turley
Jim Turley enjoyed a 37 year career at Ernst & Young LLP where he served as the Chairman and CEO from 2001 to 2013. Jim has an equally long history with the Boy Scouts of America strengthening both local and national councils, and has just been installed as the BSA’s international commissioner.

Courage of Character Award
Scarlett Lewis, Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation
To honor her 6-year-old son after he died at the hands of the Sandy Hook gunman, Scarlett Lewis founded the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, a charitable organization with a mission to ensure every child has access to Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in their classrooms and help facilitate this teaching within families, schools and communities.

Quinton Aaron, Quinton Aaron Foundation
Best known for his portrayal of Michael Oher, aka Big Mike, alongside Oscar winner Sandra Bullock, in the Academy Award winning hit movie, The Blind Side (2009), Quinton Aaron stole hearts with his portrayal of a young man overcoming devastating challenges in his life. In his real life role Quinton is dedicated to advocating for the fight against bullying. He began The Quinton Aaron Foundation, whose mission is to provide hope, encouragement, confidence and resources to children on the brink of suicide or battling the damaging effects on self-esteem and confidence caused by the actions or words of others.

Templeton Family
Sir John Templeton created the Templeton Foundation, and through his foundation his family has posthumously carried on his philanthropic efforts. The foundation provides grants and funding to support the exploration and positive developments of families, communities and innovative ideas worldwide.

McDonnell Family
Sanford McDonnell used his skill and experience at developing core ethical values in his business model to make a lasting impact on society starting with the St. Louis School system. In 1988 Sandy led the efforts of Character Plus an organization that provided resources on character development for schools. Today Sandy’s legacy continues through various character driven organizations nationwide including Character.og.

Past Recipients:

2017 Noah Galloway
2017 George Weiss
2016 Gov. Frank Keating
2015 Congressman John Lewis
2014 Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
2013 Richard Pieper
2012 Norman Augustine
2010 S. Truett Cathy
2009 General Colin Powell

For more information, contact Rayna Smith at rayna@character.org.