Press Release
Leading Women’s Group Gives Lifetime Achievement Award to Senator Barbara Mikulski, Honors Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Robert E. Moritz of PwC LLP

Nearly 1,000 members of the women’s, congressional, legal, health, labor, civil rights and other communities turned out at the Washington Hilton Hotel tonight to help the National Partnership for Women & Families celebrate its 45th anniversary and honor key champions for America’s women and families: U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, PwC LLP U.S. Chairman and Senior Partner Robert E. Moritz, and U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, who received the group’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award.

Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership, reflected on the organization’s 45 years of work to make the country more healthy, fair and family friendly. She highlighted the progress that has been made in the last year alone, including new paid family leave, fair pay, paid sick days and antidiscrimination laws at the state level; greatly improved overtime pay protections for millions of low-wage workers; a historically low rate of people without health insurance; and the ongoing revolution in how health care is delivered that is making it better coordinated and more patient- and family-friendly.

“We would not have come nearly so far without champions like Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who is breaking new ground in our quest for better health at lower cost; Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who is working tirelessly to build support for national paid leave insurance; Bob Moritz, who is setting new standards for workforce diversity and flexibility; and the incomparable Senator Barbara Mikulski, whose advocacy for women and families has changed this nation forever,” Ness said. “We are thrilled to honor these transformative leaders and will build on their achievements in the years ahead.”

The National Partnership paid special tribute to retiring Senator Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in congressional history, by giving her a never-before-bestowed Lifetime Achievement Award for being “nothing less than a legend” in advancing the issues that matter most to women and families. “For 45 years, she has been blazing a trail for women in Congress,” Ness said. “From health care to reproductive rights to fair pay to child care, she has always found ways to win for women… When she retires, Barbara Mikulski will leave a void that may never truly be filled.”

The event featured remarks from Ness and all of the night’s honorees, as well as Ellen Malcolm, chair of the boards of the National Partnership and EMILY’s List, who emceed the event.

Secretary Burwell was recognized for her leadership in advancing women’s health and innovative health care system reforms. She has presided over the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act, helping put in place the building blocks of a health care system that provides better care at lower costs. During her tenure, millions of women have gained access to preventive health services, including contraception, and the country’s uninsured rate has reached a historic low.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was praised for being a champion for women’s economic empowerment. As lead Senate sponsor of the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would create a national paid family and medical leave insurance program, she has worked to unite advocates and businesses to support paid leave. The FAMILY Act is the signature proposal of her agenda, which includes fair pay, a higher minimum wage, universal pre-K and quality, affordable child care.

Robert E. Moritz, U.S. chairman and senior partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC LLP), was the corporate chair of the event. He was honored for being a champion for women in leadership and advancing a vision of corporate culture that recognizes the real-life challenges facing employees and their families. Under his leadership, PwC LLP has set an industry standard for workplace flexibility and enabling employees to better manage their work and family responsibilities.

Ness praised the honorees and highlighted the progress that has been made for America’s women and families in the last 45 years, but she also emphasized the need for sustained momentum and vigilance. “Americans are tuned into economic inequality,” she noted, “but solutions must come from an economy that enables us all to prosper… Our public discourse should never devolve into name-calling or disparaging remarks that pit us against one another. Our national policies should never be fear based. It should be about how best and how quickly we can all become secure. The chance to achieve real economic security is the foundation of the American dream.”

Photos, videos and more from the event will be available at

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About the National Partnership for Women & Families

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, access to quality, affordable health care and policies that help all people meet the dual demands of work and family.

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