Common Cause Honors Adelaide Gomer, Leo Hindery Jr., and Bill Samuels at Annual Awards Dinner
Hosted by MNBC's Dylan Ratigan
NEW YORK, NY (11/30/2011)(readMedia)-- Common Cause/NY held its annual awards dinner last night, hosted by MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan, honoring Adelaide Gomer, Leo Hindery Jr., and Bill Samuels. Also in attendance were Common Cause board members Sean Coffey and Eric Gioia, as well as former Public Advocate Mark Green. The legendary Bill Moyers closed the ceremony.
Ratigan, an outspoken advocate for campaign finance reform, spoke to the organization's core message of government accountability and transparency:
"As long as 94% of the time the candidate that raises the most money wins, you will never see a valid resolution or just resolution to any of the issues facing our country. Whatever your issue may be (the environment, education, human rights, birth control, energy independence, healthcare, jobs for America, War in Afghanistan, etc.) the only way we will ever be able to provide the American people the debate they deserve is if we change the conversation and get money out. Money in politics has always been everyone's #2 issue. Instead of saying "I care about the environment and I want to get money out of politics," we have to make getting money out the priority, because the only way we are ever going to be able to actually address the issues is if we get money out of politics first."
Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY said:
"This year, our civic conversation has shifted from resignation towards "politics as usual" to a statewide and nationwide examination of the way in which unfettered – and all too frequently, secret - campaign contributions have warped our electoral system. Too many citizens feel that their elected officials are not accountable to the voters who elect them and that our democracy is at risk. Our honorees have dedicated themselves to improving government and creating a real citizen led democracy. We are proud to partner with each of them in our mutual quest to realize the vision of a vibrant, effective and accountable New York State government."
Adelaide Park Gomer, Civic Advocacy Award for environmental advocacy in the public interest
Adelaide Park Gomer is President of the Park Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting education, public broadcasting and the environment. Ms. Gomer is personally committed to each of these issues and has initiated reforms in the Foundation's investment policies to more closely align them with its mission.
In conjunction with its educational and broadcasting missions, the Park Foundation established a scholarship program at Ithaca College. It offers full scholarships for up to 20 communications students, who are trained to become critical thinkers and ethical leaders in a global society. Ms. Gomer was the driving force behind the Independent Media Center at the Park School of Communications at Ithaca College and brought in the current director Jeff Cohen, the creator of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting or FAIR.
Ms. Gomer is involved with the Foundation's environmental program, which concentrates on the quantity and quality of water east of the Mississippi. The Park Foundation is focused on establishing water as a common resource, not as a commodity, and feels that water should be publicly supported and available for everyone. As part of the effort to achieve this goal, the Park Foundation supported research and advocacy to hold industry and government agencies accountable to protect the environment from any harmful effects of hydrofracking to extract natural gas.
It was Adelaide's vision that the new business school be sustainably designed: with the goal of being awarded leed platinum certification. This building is now called the Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise at Ithaca College. She has been on the Board of the College for 12 years.
The Foundation has also initiated a grants program focused on implementing sustainable practices in Tompkins County with the intent of establishing this community as a model for the Northeast. In addition to this environmental project, the Park Foundation helps meet the needs of underserved populations in Tompkins County, New York to help alleviate the impact of poverty.
Adelaide has also been on the Board of Defenders of Wildlife for nine years. She has also served on the Board of Rachel's Network a national women's environmental NGO. She is a member of the Threshold Foundation, a group of national donors committed to creating a more just and sustainable world.
Ms. Gomer's independent philanthropy is focused on instituting and protecting democratic ideals and preventing political corruption by focusing on the impact of corporate and neoconservative money in politics, especially with regard to its effect on human rights, health and the environment.
Leo Hindery Jr., John Gardner Lifetime Achievement Award for leadership in civic engagement
Leo Hindery, Jr. is Managing Partner of InterMedia Partners, a series of media industry private equity funds he founded in 1988 and ran continuously until February 1997, when he left to run a series of major communications companies. He reconstituted InterMedia Partners in early 2005.
In 1997, he was elected President and CEO of Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI) and Liberty Media, the world's largest combined cable television system operator and programming entity at the time. In March 1999 TCI merged into AT&T and Mr. Hindery became President and CEO of AT&T Broadband until he resigned in November 1999.
Mr. Hindery was subsequently elected Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GlobalCenter Inc., a major Internet services company, which merged into Exodus Communications, Inc., in January 2001. From 2001 until October 2004, he was Chairman and CEO of The YES Network, which he founded to be the regional television home of the New York Yankees.
He has been recognized as a leading figure in the cable industry, having been named International Cable Executive of the Year, Cable Television Operator of the Year, one of the cable industry's "25 Most Influential Executives Over the Past 25 Years", one of the "30 Individuals with the Most Significant Impact on Cable's Early History", and a member of The Cable Hall of Fame's class of 2012.
Mr. Hindery has also played an active role in U.S. economic and foreign policy. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Chairman of the US Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation, and Co-Chair of the Task Force on Job Creation and Trade. From 2005 through 2007, he was Vice Chairman of the Presidential and Congressional HELP Commission which made recommendations to Congress for the reform of U.S. foreign assistance and he was an economic and trade advisor to presidential candidate Barack Obama.
He is a member of the Board of Visitors of the Columbia School of Journalism and a Director of Teach For America, the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), the Paley Center for Media and the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University. In 2003, he co-founded Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS (TPAA) and later received the Asia Society's Founders Award for his efforts in the international fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
Mr. Hindery is the author of "It Takes a CEO: It's Time to Lead With Integrity" and "The Biggest Game of All." He has an MBA from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business and an undergraduate degree from Seattle University.
A recently retired race car driver, his racing resume includes a Class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (24 Heures du Mans) in 2005. He is currently bringing Formula One racing to New York and New Jersey.
Bill Samuels, Democracy in Action Award for outstanding commitment to government accountability
Bill Samuels, an innovative political thinker and social activist, has a lifetime of experience as a CEO and high tech entrepreneur. Currently, Bill is Managing Director of Carlyle Capital Group, the Executive Chairman of Resonant Software, a software technology company in San Francisco and the Hills Treatment Center in Los Angeles, a facility dedicated to helping people overcome addiction.
Raised in Canandaigua, Bill's family and political roots are deeply anchored in upstate New York. Upon graduating MIT and Harvard Law School, Bill made the decision to engage in socially responsible businesses, turning down a job on Wall Street to start an education company dedicated to training entry level workers who lacked the skills to get and keep a job.
In 1969 he helped start a public interest organization, Council on Economic Priorities, which made public companies' policies on the environment, women & minority achievement, South African and tobacco concerns, charitable giving, labor relations and other corporate disclosure issues. Bill was active in the movement against the Vietnam War playing a lead role in raising money to finance the 1971 Vietnam Veterans Against the War March on Washington.
After the 2000 Census, he helped finance the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of New York's notoriously gerrymandered redistricting plan. In 2001, he led a civil rights lawsuit against the Gramercy Park Trust on behalf of public school students at Washington Irving.
In the 2004 Presidential campaign, many Democrats were outraged by the "swiftboating" against John Kerry. Bill produced a documentary to set the record straight, "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry." After the 2004 elections, Bill founded Blue Tiger Democrats, an innovative grassroots research organization in Michigan and New York that studied how to use civic engagement to reconnect the Democratic Party to its communities between election cycles.
In the 2008 elections, Bill served as Finance Chairman for the New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, leading to Democrats gaining control of the State Senate for the first time in decades. Despite his best hopes for the new majority, the Democrats cynically reaccepted corrupt incumbent State Senator Pedro Espada back onto their side of the aisle following the failed June 2009 coup.
In response, Bill founded New Roosevelt, a multi-year independent campaign to achieve critical reforms in New York's redistricting process, campaign finance, fiscal practices, and ethics rules. New Roosevelt built from scratch a field organization totally devoted to Albany reform. An office was opened in the Bronx and New Roosevelts executed a targeted field operation that ousted disgraced Democratic State Senator Pedro Espada. Bill remains focused on making the New York State Legislature the best in the nation through continued advocacy.