Curbelo Accepts John F. Kennedy Library's New Frontier Award for His Leadership on Climate Change
Representative Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, last night accepted the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award. The award was presented by Jack Schlossberg, President Kennedy’s grandson, during a ceremony at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government's Institute of Politics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The other recipient was May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, a leading campaign in the fight to address climate change.
“As I reflect on this honor, I am reminded of how much President Kennedy did to open our nation to the pursuit of scientific knowledge,” Curbelo said in his acceptance speech. “Perhaps this awareness of the centrality of scientific knowledge was best demonstrated by President Kennedy’s commitment to the exploration of space. For me, my knowledge of climate change and confronting the reality of a sea that is rising is of critical importance as I serve my constituents. Like President Kennedy, we need to both know and act – we must take steps now – not tomorrow – to address the environmental challenges that lie before us.”
“Congressman Curbelo’s work on climate demonstrates the impact that young leaders, who dare to think differently, and challenge tradition, can have on our national politics,” Schlossberg said when presenting Curbelo the award. “As a young man and a member of the new generation, one that expects more out of our politics, that believes we aren’t as divided as we may seem, that welcomes climate change as an opportunity for American triumph, I am grateful that Congressman Curbelo is representing us in Washington.”
A full transcript of Schlossberg remarks about Curbelo and Curbelo’s acceptance speech can be found below. You can watch both speeches here.
BACKGROUND ON THE NEW FRONTIER AWARDS
Created by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School, the New Frontier Award honors Americans under the age of 40 who are changing their communities and the country with their commitment to public service. The awards are presented annually to two exceptional individuals whose contributions in elective office, community service, or advocacy demonstrate the impact and the value of public service in the spirit of John F. Kennedy.
One of the New Frontier Awards honors an elected official whose work demonstrates the importance of elective service as a way to address a public challenge. This award, called the Fenn Award, is presented to a young elected official in honor of Dan Fenn, the Kennedy Library’s first director and a former member of President Kennedy’s staff. The other New Frontier Award honors an individual whose contributions in the realm of community service, advocacy or grassroots activism have had a positive impact on a broad public policy issue or challenge.
At the New Frontier Awards ceremony, Jack Schlossberg presented Boeve and Curbelo each with a ship’s navigational compass in a wooden box bearing the inscription: “We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier….I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier.” – John F. Kennedy.
A distinguished bipartisan committee of political and community leaders selected Boeve and Curbelo based on their contributions to the public and their embodiment of the forward-looking public idealism to which President Kennedy hoped young Americans would aspire.
Curbelo Accepts John F. Kennedy Library's New Frontier Award for His Leadership on Climate Change
President Kennedy’s Grandson Jack Schlossberg: “Accepting the nomination in 1960, then Senator Kennedy declared it was time for a new generation of leadership from those who were ‘not blinded by the old fears and hates and rivalry, from those who can cast off the old slogans and elusions and suspicions.’ Climate change certainly demands that type of leadership – the kind that Congressman Curbelo is providing us today.
“In 2014, at just thirty-four years old Carlos Curbelo, was elected to represent Florida’s 26th congressional district, and the young Republican incumbent won re-election again two years later. He is a man of his party, proudly so, but he is also a young congressman who refuses to follow dogma blindly. He broke with much of his party on climate change, acknowledging its urgency, advocating for effective policies and using his elected office to build consensus.
“And just as May did as a private citizen, Congressman Curbelo identified the lack of political will as the primary obstacle in addressing the most important issue facing the world today. So he mounted a pragmatic and courageous effort in response: co-founding the House Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group that has grown to include 60 members, equal parts Democrat and Republican. Their mission is to demonstrate that there is in fact consensus on climate, to build more and to show that members of both parties that they can acknowledge it without violating their principles or alienating their constituents.
“Congressman Curbelo’s work on climate demonstrates the impact that young leaders, who dare to think differently, and challenge tradition, can have on our national politics. As a young man and a member of the new generation, one that expects more out of our politics, that believes we aren’t as divided as we may seem, that welcomes climate change as an opportunity for American triumph, I am grateful that Congressman Curbelo is representing us in Washington. And it is my honor to present the 2017 New Frontier Award to Congressman Carlos Curbelo.”
Representative Carlos Curbelo: “Let me begin by thanking the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, the Kennedy School here at Harvard and the Institute of Politics for hosting us this evening.
“I am blessed to have my wife Cecilia here, as well as my parents and other family members and friends who made the trip.
“A big thank you to Jack. When Jack called me, I told him I wasn't sure if I deserved this special recognition, but that I would accept it anyway. So thank you Jack, and thank you to all the members of the Board.
“The truth is that I am here tonight in representation of 61 other Members of the U.S. House who have joined the bipartisan Climate Solution Caucus with the goal of working collaboratively to address climate change. I especially want to mention my fellow co-chairman, also from the great State of Florida, Congressman Ted Deutch. Bipartisan cooperation is often times frowned upon by party leaders and therefore Members of Congress who engage in this type of conduct anyway should be commended. I will also salute organizations like Citizens Climate Lobby, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Nature Conservancy and others whose members are sincerely committed and dedicated to building support for responsible environmental policies in both parties. We could not have gotten very far without them. And I also want to thank my longtime friend and chief of staff Roy Schultheis who began educating me on climate change and specifically, sea level rise, long before I started my service in Congress. Lastly, I am grateful to so many South Floridians, many men and women I represent in Congress, who have taken up this cause and called for action in order to secure the future for rising generations.
“In accepting the New Frontier Award on behalf of all of them, I want to take a moment to note my deep admiration for the Kennedy family. In particular, I would like to take note of the extraordinary service of Ambassador Caroline Kennedy during her time in Japan, as well as to recognize the service of my friend and colleague, Joseph Kennedy III, who by the way is a key member of our morning workout group.
“As I reflect on this honor, I am reminded of how much President Kennedy did to open our nation to the pursuit of scientific knowledge. Perhaps this awareness of the centrality of scientific knowledge was best demonstrated by President Kennedy’s commitment to the exploration of space. For me, my knowledge of climate change and confronting the reality of a sea that is rising is of critical importance as I serve my constituents. Like President Kennedy, we need to both know and act – we must take steps now – not tomorrow – to address the environmental challenges that lie before us.
“We live in very challenging times. Our nation is disunited in profound ways – whether measured by race, disparity in economic opportunity or the conflict of ideology. President Kennedy’s unshakeable faith in the goodness of America and in the importance of our founding principles inspires my service in the United States Congress. Like all of us, President Kennedy lived in a time that was often marked by crisis at home and abroad. He confronted those challenges in a way that should give all of us great confidence and hope. In fact, after the disappointment of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, President Kennedy delivered a moving speech in front of thousands of Cuban exiles at Miami's Orange Bowl. I know people who were there, and many will tell you today that had President Kennedy been able to complete his term, Cubans would not have suffered nearly six decades of tyranny.
“President Kennedy reminds us of the importance of public service. At a time when there is too much cynicism and doubt about the value and importance of public service and, in particular, elected office, we do well to remember that for President Kennedy and for his brothers Robert and Edward, public service was a noble and virtuous calling. To serve the common good is essential to the effective working of our democracy. As we celebrate the centenary of the President’s birth, we should remember that from the time of our founders politics is meant to be the art of what is possible not the measure of our differences. We should encourage each other to become more – not less – involved in the affairs of our community and in the future of our nation.
“Thank you very much for this honor.”