For Immediate Release | November 22, 2022


Ariella Jailal at

Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), Peter Edelman, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy at Georgetown University and Faculty Director on the Center on Poverty and Inequality, and Jack Lew, visiting professor at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs and Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, each received the 2022 Robert M. Ball Award from the National Academy of Social Insurance on October 25th. Over two-hundred guests gathered at the Kennedy Center, including Wendell Primus, Deborah Weinstein, James Sandman, Indivar Dutta-Gupta, Lynette Rawlings, Rebecca Vallas, Henry Aaron, and Nancy Altman. 

Speakers described the innovative contributions to social insurance and related policy issues of the honorees that have helped to improve the well-being of millions of people. Of Jack Lew, Wendell Primus, senior policy advisor to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said “Jack has always had a fundamental belief in justice and a focus on helping those most vulnerable… He is incredibly smart [and] a quick study on complicated policy matters…He is generous and cares deeply about and understands the role of government. He is kind, loyal, and humble … [and] he cares about the poor both here at home and abroad.” 

Jim Sandman, distinguished lecturer and Senior Consultant to the Future of Profession Initiative of Penn Carey Law at the University of Pennsylvania, said of Peter Edelman, “At the root of everything Peter does, there are two convictions. First, Peter believes to the bottom of his soul that we can end poverty in America; ending poverty in America for Peter is all a matter of national will. Second, Peter has a profound personal belief in the dignity [and] value of every human being and a vision for a world in which every person is empowered to use their gifts and thrive.” 

Debbie Weinstein, Executive Director of the Coalition on Human Needs, said of Marian Wright Edelman, “Marian’s visionary leadership is not just about speaking the truth, it is to create the imperative, to act, to work together, to build practical sustainable supports to help Black and Brown children and all poor children thrive. She knows that securing their future is the only way to secure ours.” 

Since 2004, the Academy has presented the Robert M. Ball Award to individuals whose recent work have made a significant impact on the U.S. social insurance system. This award honors Bob Ball, Commissioner of Social Security (1962-1973) and his over sixty-year commitment to advancing the nation’s social insurance programs.  

Jack Lew served as the 76th U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and White House Chief of Staff for President Obama, and as the Director of Office and Management and Budget under both President Obama and President Clinton. Lew’s notable portfolio included Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and programs targeted at poverty alleviation. He played a central role in extending trust fund solvency for half a century.  

Peter Edelman, known for his scholarly work on poverty, served as legislative assistant to Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and now teaches constitutional law and poverty law at Georgetown University. During President Clinton’s first term he was counselor to the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala and later Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Edelman has written extensively on poverty, constitutional law, and issues about children and youth.  

Marian Wright Edelman began advocating for disadvantaged Americans in the mid-60s, serving as counsel for the Poor People’s Campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began organizing before his death. She founded CDF in 1973, which, under her leadership, became the nation’s strongest voice for children and families. She has received many awards for her prolific writing. 

Photos from the event are available on the Academy’s website 

Since the National Academy of Social Insurance was founded in 1986, it has provided rigorous inquiry and insights into the functioning of our nation’s social insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation. Now comprised of over 1,200 of the nation’s top experts in social insurance and related policies and programs, the Academy studies how social insurance will meet the changing needs of American families, employees, and employers. The Academy also looks at new frontiers for social insurance, including areas of uninsured or underinsured economic risks. To learn more about the Academy’s work, please visit, or follow @socialinsuranceon Twitter. 

See related news: News About NASI

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