Every action of ours not only has an impact on our own self but also on the world around us. It is time to consider...what impact will my action have on the environment and the people who live in it? And how will it affect future generations and the human spirit?

The 2010 Fairness Award Honoree Ela Bhatt, the Founder of the Self Employed Women's Association.

2015 Honorees and Presenters

2015 Grasstops Honoree


Mr. Houcine Abassi

Houcine Abassi was born on August 19th, 1947 in Sbeikha, Kairaouan. Abassi began his career as a teacher, and later became the dean of students in a high school. In 1983, Abassi became a member of the General Union for Deans of Students before becoming a member of the regional union in Kairaouan. In 2002 Abassi became head of the Kairaouan regional union until 2006, when he was elected as member in the Executive Office of the UGTT. The UGTT is Tunisia's largest and most active national trade union. The organization was founded in 1946 by the Union's iconic leader Farhat Hached. Abassi was unanimously appointed as Secretary General of the UGTT on December 29th, 2011, by the 13 newly elected members of the Executive Office. Abassi was the front runner of the first list in the elections. The second list, under the leadership of Ali Romdhane, is said to have been established as a means of creating regional balance. The appointment of Abassi as Secretary General of the UGTT was implemented at the conclusion of the Union's 22nd Congress, which began Monday, December 26th. Abassi succeeded Abedssalem Jrad as the Secretary General of the UGTT. Abassi has four children, one of which is a university professor in economics.

Mr. Abassi has been awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize along with his fellow honorees from the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet for their "decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in the country in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011."

Hassine Abassi Fairness Award Speech

2015 Grasstops Honoree

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Mr. Paul Brest

Paul Brest is Former Dean and Professor Emeritus (active), at Stanford Law School, a lecturer at the Graduate School of Business, and a faculty co-director of the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. He was previously president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

A leading scholar and teacher of constitutional law and co-author of the casebook Processes of Constitutional Decision-making, Paul Brest now focuses his teaching and writing on public policy, judgment and decision making, and philanthropy. Recent articles in the Stanford Social Innovation Review include “When Can Impact Investing Create Real Impact?” (2013), “A Decade of Outcome Oriented Philanthropy” (2012) and “The Power of Theories of Change” (2010). He is co-author of Problem Solving, Decision Making, and Professional Judgment (2010) and Money Well Spent: A Strategic Guide to Smart Philanthropy (2008).

Professor Brest joined the Stanford Law School faculty in 1969 and served as dean from 1987 to 1999 before becoming president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 2000. He returned to Stanford in 2012 to teach in the Law School, Graduate School of Business, and Masters in Public Policy program. His current courses include Problem Solving for Public Policy and Social Change, Measuring and Improving the Impact of Social Enterprises, and Advanced Topics in Philanthropy.

Paul Brest Fairness Award Speech

2015 Grassroots Honoree

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Ms. Myrtle Witbooi

Myrtle Witbooi is a South African labour activist. She currently serves as the General secretary of the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union (SADSAWU). She also serves the first president of the International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF), a global organization of household and domestic workers. Labor scholars have noted IDWF is the "first international labor federation run by women for work dominated by women."

Myrtle began her career as a young domestic worker in apartheid South Africa in the early 1960s and in 1965 she helped convene the first ever organizational meeting of domestic workers in Cape Town. As General Secterary of SADSAWU, she has fought for a national minimum wage increase and compensation for on-the-job injuries for domestic workers. In 2011, Myrtle helped lead the international coalition of domestic workers that secured passage of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers (C. 189). The Convention (No. 189) on domestic workers has become the first international labor standard to ensure domestic workers the same basic rights as other workers. As part of SADSAWU, Myrtle played a central role in influencing the ILO Domestic Workers Convention C.189. The convention marked unprecedented involvement of informal women workers in the ILO standard-setting process.

In 2013, Myrtle accepted the George Meany–Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award, which recognizes international leaders and organizations who have overcome significant hurdles to fight for human rights.

Myrtle Witbooi Fairness Award Speech

2015 Presenter

Anne Patterson

H.E. Anne Patterson

Ambassador Anne W. Patterson is a career diplomat, who currently serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.

Prior to returning to Washington for this assignment, Ambassador Patterson served as United States Ambassador to Egypt (2011-2013) and as Ambassador to Pakistan (2007-2010). She has served the State Department as Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Deputy Permanent Representative at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and as the State Department’s Deputy Inspector General. She has also served as Ambassador to Colombia (2000-2003) and as Ambassador to El Salvador (1997-2000).

In 2008, Ambassador Patterson was promoted to the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest rank in the Foreign Service. She has been awarded the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award twice, in 2008 and 2010, the Ryan Crocker Award for Expeditionary Diplomacy in 2010, and was named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2011.

A native of Fort Smith, Arkansas, Ambassador Patterson graduated from Wellesley College.

2015 Presenter

Anna Eshoo

Rep. Anna Eshoo

Like the Silicon Valley region she represents, Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo exemplifies innovation. She’s creative, boundary breaking and productive. She is a problem solver and a consensus builder. In Rep. Eshoo’s two decades in Congress, she has defended consumers, promoted American competitiveness and innovation, fought for access to health care for families and children, protected the environment, and encouraged development of clean energy technology.

Rep. Eshoo’s work consistently earns the highest approval from a wide range of organizations, including the League of Conservation Voters, the Humane Society, the American Association of University Women, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and the Science Coalition. The San Jose Mercury News named her one of the ten most powerful women in Silicon Valley “because she sits on committees that oversee the Internet and biotech—areas vital to the valley’s interests”

Rep. Eshoo was born in New Britain, Connecticut, of Assyrian and Armenian heritage. She is the proud mother of two children, Karen and Paul.

Eshoo is a graduate of Cañada College and the CORO Foundation. She was awarded an Honorary Degree by Menlo College and was elected to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in 1982. She served on the County Board for ten years before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992.

2015 Presenter

Anne Patterson

Jason Furman

Jason Furman was confirmed by the Senate on August 1, 2013 as the 28th Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. In this role, he serves as President Obama’s Chief Economist and a Member of the Cabinet. Furman has served the President since the beginning of the Administration, previously holding the position of Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President. Immediately prior to the Administration, Furman was Economic Policy Director for the President’s campaign in 2008 and a member of the Presidential Transition Team. Furman held a variety of posts in public policy and research before his work with President Obama. In public policy, Furman worked at both the Council of Economic Advisers and National Economic Council during the Clinton administration and also at the World Bank. In research, Furman was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and also has served in visiting positions at various universities, including NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Policy. Furman has conducted research in a wide range of areas, such as fiscal policy, tax policy, health economics, Social Security, and domestic and international macroeconomics. In addition to numerous articles in scholarly journals and periodicals, Furman is the editor of two books on economic policy. Furman holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

2015 Special Guest: Mistress of Ceremonies

Ms. Andrea Roane

Ms. Andrea Roane joined WUSA 9 in August of 1981 as the Sunday evening and 6:30 a.m. weekday anchor. Andrea is best known to viewers for her passionate reporting on breast health issues and promoting the importance of early detection in the fight against breast cancer. In 2006, Andrea was named one of Washingtonian Magazine’s “Washingtonians of the Year” for her continued work on breast cancer awareness. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Andrea earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Education and a Master of Arts degree in Drama and Communications from Louisiana State University in New Orleans, now the University of New Orleans.

2015 Musical Guest: Special Performance

Ms. Irma Thomas

Irma Thomas, also known as the "Soul Queen of New Orleans," began her career in 1959. Her debut single, Dorothy LaBostrie’s “You Can Have My Husband, But Please Don’t Mess With My Man” hit #22 on the Billboard R&B charts in May 1960. Most of her early 1960s recordings were written and produced by Allen Toussaint and were strong regional sellers. Her first single, “Wish Someone Would Care,” was the biggest hit of her career and reached #17 on Billboard’s pop charts in the spring of 1964. Thomas released nine singles and two albums during her three-year period with the Imperial label. During the 1960s, Thomas was a popular performer on the Southern college circuit. In 1970, Thomas moved to California and continued working club dates on weekends and also recorded for several labels, including Atlantic Records in 1971. In the mid-1970s, she moved back to New Orleans where she remained popular as a live performer.

Her comeback as a recording artist started in 1986 when she produced an album, The New Rules, with Scott Billington of Rounder Records. Thomas received her first Grammy nomination in 1991. She received her second Grammy nomination in 1998 along with Marcia Ball and Tracy Nelson. She has continued to maintain an active recording and touring schedule since. Thomas married her manager, Emile Jackson, in 1977. Together, they owned and operated a night club in New Orleans called the Lion’s Den until it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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