Event Date: 
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 8:00pm to 11:00pm

DC Vote's 2011 Champions of Democracy awards dinner was a huge success! Click here for Washington Post coverage of the event.

Our champions - Maudine Cooper of the Greater Washington Urban League and Walter Smith of DC Appleseed - delivered fiery messages that energized the crowd, and motivated all of us fighting for greater democracy for DC to work harder than ever. We were also joined by a large number of the "DC 72" - committed people from across Washington, DC who engaged in civil disobedience this year during protests against congressional interference in our local affairs.

Other notable attendees included Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Representative John Conyers, DC City Councilmembers Michael Brown, Mary Cheh, and Tommy Wells, University of the District of Columbia President Dr. Allen Sessoms, civil rights leader Julian Bond and more. Check out pictures from the evening here.

On Wednesday, October 26, 2011, we honored these Champions of Democracy:

Maudine Cooper

Maudine has served as the President and CEO of the Greater Washington Urban League (GWUL) for the last 20 years. The GWUL provides needed services to 65,000 of Greater Washington's working poor, families and children in poverty, the elderly and first-time homebuyers. Under Maudine's leadership, the GWUL acquired its own building in Columbia Heights, became fiscally stable and launched a Thursday network of young professionals.

Maudine's passion for DC democracy has translated into the Urban League playing a major leadership role in the DC Voting Rights Act. From firing up crowds at rallies to sending letters to members of Congress to joining trips to the states to educate and advocate, the GWUL is one of DC Vote's strongest partners in working to end taxation without representation in Washington, DC.

Maudine is a champion not only for democracy but also for Washington, DC. Since coming here for college at Howard University, she has worked to improve DC through the Urban League and the District government. She is credited with turning around the Office of Human Rights as the Director in the mid-eighties, enforcing equal opportunity laws through the Office of Minority Business Opportunity Commission and serving as Chief of Staff for Mayor Marion Barry.

Walter Smith

Walter is one of the primary architects of the legal strategies for DC voting rights and democracy over the last 15 years. He initiated, researched and argued Alexander v. Daley in the late 1990's, making the case that DC residents' lack of voting rights is unconstitutional under the equal protection principle. This pivotal case set up the movement's legislative strategy for the next decade. Walter continues to identify and implement innovative, brilliant legal strategies to achieve democracy in the nation's capital.

As the Executive Director of the DC Appleseed Center for the past nine years, Walter expanded the organization from 2 to 8 staff and from 2 to 14 projects, including DC voting rights. He used his experience as a partner at Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells) and as Special Deputy Corporation Counsel under John Ferren at the Office of the Corporation Counsel (now the Office of the DC Attorney General) to leverage probono resources for the good of Washington, DC.

Walter, through his work at DC Appleseed, strives to improve the lives of people who live and work in Washington, through society's basic building blocks of jobs, health and the environment. Walter sees democracy as one of these building blocks - both an end in itself and a means to other improvements.

2011 Champions of Democracy Sponsors

  • Jane & Daniel Solomon
  • Diane & Norman Bernstein
  • Richard & Lois England
  • Trish & George Vradenburg
  • Laurie Wingate & Mark Chandler
  • Arent Fox LLP
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Louie & Ralph Dweck
  • Pepco Holdings, Inc.
  • Royal Kennedy Rodgers & Johnathan Rodgers
  • The Summit Fund of Washington
  • Washington, DC Association of REALTORS
  • Akridge
  • Elizabeth A. Allen & Kendal H. Tyre
  • Marque Chambliss & Sheryll Cashin
  • The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region
  • DC Appleseed Center for Law & Justice
  • Forest City Washington
  • Rena Pokempner Gordon & Michael Gordon
  • Patrick Mara
  • Lorie Masters & Jack Rose
  • The Meltzer Group
  • Patton Boggs LLP
  • Joseph M. Perta
  • Reed Smith LLP
  • Andy & Marjon Shallal
  • Kathy Swayze & Impact Communications
  • UFCW Local 400
  • Verizon Washington, DC
  • William B. Alsup, III
  • Patricia Bauman
  • Bridging Resources in Communities, Inc.
  • The Campaign Workshop
  • Rosalind C. Cohen, Esq.
  • Edwin & Sara Davis
  • Gretchen Gardner & Josh Pokempner
  • Mary Beth & Robert Gosselink
  • Greater Washington Urban League
  • Joseph & Lynne Horning
  • Kilpatrick, Townsend & Stockton LLP
  • Charles A. Miller
  • Night Life Agency
  • Jack H. Olender & Associates, PC
  • Rosalind M. Parker, Esq.
  • Senator Jamie Raskin & the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project
  • Elaine Reuben
  • Alice M. Rivlin
  • Kathy & Al Schmidt
  • Donald Kareem Sherman
  • Bruce Spiva & Anna Gelpern
  • The Spiva Law Firm PLLC
  • Joe Sternlieb & Linda Singer
  • University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law
  • Washington Teachers' Union
  • George Wasserman Family Foundation
  • Marisel & Thomas Wilbur
  • Barry Zigas & Jodie Levin-Epstein
  • Harold & Nancy Zirkin
  • Thomas Blanton & Marsha Lillie-Blanton
  • Jeff Blum, USAction
  • Dominique Bravo & Eric Sloan
  • Rich Dodge, Athena Robles & Lucky Dodge
  • Toby & Daniel Edelman
  • Hon. & Mrs. Bert T. Edwards
  • Sarajane Foster
  • Debbie Goldman
  • Kappa Alpha Psi, Washington Alumni Chapter
  • Aviva Kempner
  • Eric Koenig
  • The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Bob & Jane Levey
  • Ed & Margot Aronson Levin
  • Debra Fried Levin & Josh Levin
  • Ruthanne & Robert Miller
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America
  • National Urban League
  • Andra N. Oakes & Edwin E. Huddleson
  • Bill Oberdorfer
  • Lawrence Ottinger & Cinthia Schuman
  • Sarah Pokempner & Jerry Levine
  • Deborah Shore
  • William Stein
  • Gary Thompson
  • Elizabeth Wiener & Lloyd Leonard
  • Josh Wyner
  • Barbara T. Yeomans
  • Alliance for Justice
  • The Bernstein Companies
  • Rick Bress
  • Betsy Cavendish, Appleseed
  • Gary Epstein
  • Nicholas Fels
  • Richard B. Herzog
  • John Klenert
  • Judith & Dick Meltzer
  • Anne & Alan Morrison
  • Gary M. Ratner