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Georgetown's Tom Birch Honored for 'Outstanding' Arts Advocacy

National Assembly of State Arts Agencies will present the 2012 President's Award for Outstanding Advocacy at a conference this week.

Tom Birch, known locally for his work on behalf of Georgetown as an advisory neighborhood commissioner, will be recognized this week for his advocacy for arts organizations countrywide.

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) will present its former Legislative Counsel with its 2012 President's Award for Outstanding Advocacy at a conference this week.

According to a news release about the award:

From 1981 to 2012, Birch served as NASAA's legislative counsel, representing the interests of state arts agencies on Capitol Hill. For the past 10 years, Birch chaired the Cultural Advocacy Group's national coalition of arts and humanities allies carrying a unified message to Congress about the value of the arts in federal policy.

Birch has received many accolades for his legislative work and policy leadership, particularly in his areas of specialization in cultural affairs, child welfare and human services. He came to this work from Congress, having served as legislative counsel to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on issues of domestic policy. An attorney by training, Birch received his J.D. from George Washington University and his B.A. cum laude in American history from Lehigh University. He was a Peace Corps volunteer for three years in Morocco.

A native of California, Birch has lived in Washington, D.C., for more than 40 years, where he has served as a board member and officer for a number of charitable organizations, including the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, the Crafts Center, the Folger Poetry Board, the American Humane Association and the vestry of Christ Church Georgetown.

He is serving a fifth term in elected public office as Georgetown's neighborhood commissioner in Washington, D.C., where he received the Belin Award in 2006 for distinguished community service. In 2003, Birch was given the American Psychological Association's Award for Distinguished Contribution to Child Advocacy, and in 2006, Casey Family Programs awarded him its Leadership Award.

In announcing the award, NASAA Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Katz said, "Tom's guidance has been critical to NASAA as we communicated to Congress about the important role state arts agencies play in sustaining healthy communities nationwide. NASAA's state arts agency members have benefitted directly from Tom's advocacy knowledge and assistance as they've made the case for public funding of the arts to their legislators and constituents. I am thrilled for Tom to receive this award in celebration of his many contributions to our field."

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