Jocelyn Benson to receive courage award from Kennedy Library Foundation

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is among a group of five public officials who will receive Profile in Courage awards from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation, the organization announced Thursday.

Benson, a Democrat who was elected in 2018, is being recognized for her "work protecting our state and nation’s democracy," a press release from the Secretary of State's office said.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson

"This year’s honorees put their careers and lives on the line to stand up for democratic principles and the integrity of our elections," said Caroline Kennedy, daughter of former President John F. Kennedy and honorary president of the foundation. "Their service and courage inspire us all."

The other honorees are Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy; U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming; Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, also a Republican; and Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, an employee of the Fulton County election department in Georgia.

Benson was Michigan's top election official amid a push by supporters of former President Donald Trump to overturn the battleground state's results in November 2020. She's also opposed Republican efforts to change voting laws this legislative session. And she faced GOP criticism for her decision to send out absentee ballot applications to registered voters ahead of the last presidential election during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation created the Profile in Courage Award in 1989 to honor Kennedy’s commitment and contribution to public service.

"I am deeply moved and grateful for this recognition of our work in Michigan to ensure every voice is heard, every vote is counted and our democracy prevails against the unprecedented attempts to interfere with our elections and upend the will of the people," Benson said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer received the award in 2021 for her work to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Both Whitmer and Benson are up for reelection this fall.

The foundation will present the 2022 awards at a ceremony on May 22 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, according to a press release.

cmauger@detroitnews.com