DC residents Maria Gomez and Harris Wofford are among the 2012 Citizens Medal recipients, the White House announced Friday.
“It is my distinguished honor to award these individuals the 2012 Citizens Medal for their commitment to public service,” President Barack Obama said in a press release. “Their selflessness and courage inspire us all to look for opportunities to better serve our communities and our country.”
Gomez founded Mary’s Center, 3912 Georgia Ave. NW, 25 years ago. The center provides health care, family literacy and job training to needy families in the District.
Wofford, a former Senator from Pennsylvania, was "instrumental" in forming the Peace Corps, according to the press release.
“Congratulations to Ms. Gomez and Sen. Wofford for this high honor, which befits their decades of service,” Mayor Vincent Gray said in a press release.
“They have both devoted long careers and their considerable talents and intelligence to bettering not only our city, but also our nation and the world. This award is well deserved.”
Below is the full description of the DC awardees from the White House press release:
Maria Gomez (Washington, DC)
Gomez founded Mary’s Center 25 years ago with the mission to build better futures through the delivery of health care, family literacy and job training. Mary’s Center is part of the working group launching First Lady Michelle Obama's “Let's Read Let's Move Campaign.” Prior to establishing Mary’s Center, Maria was a public health nurse with the D.C. Department of Health. She has also worked for the Red Cross, directing community education programming and disaster services, and with the Visiting Nurses Association. She currently serves as Regional Representative for the South East to the National Council of la Raza, and previously served two terms on the board of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington.
Harris Wofford (Washington DC)
Wofford served as a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania from 1991 to 1995, and from then to 2001 was the chief executive officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service. From 1970 to 1978 he served as the fifth president of Bryn Mawr College. He is a noted advocate of national service and volunteering. He began his public service career as counsel to the Rev.Theodore Hesburgh on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and was an early supporter of the Civil Rights movement in the South in the late 1950s. He became a volunteer advisor and friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1961, Kennedy appointed him as special assistant to the President for civil rights. He was instrumental in the formation of the Peace Corps and served as the Peace Corps' special representative to Africa and director of operations in Ethiopia. On his return to Washington in 1964, he was appointed associate director of the Peace Corps. In 1966 he became the founding president of the State University of New York's College at Old Westbury.