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The J. David Edwards



The J. David Edwards Power of Advocacy Award is an annually sponsored award presented at JNCL-NCLIS’s Language Advocacy Day. Each year, JNCL-NCLIS recognizes one (1) language advocate in the field who has exhibited excellence in grassroots advocacy. The Language Advocate of the Year recipient demonstrates leadership and resilience through designing and/or executing inclusive advocacy initiatives at the local, state, and/or federal level. The Language Advocate of the Year recipient also inspires stakeholders and directly engages with decision-makers to further the mission of JNCL-NCLIS: to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to learn English and at least one other language. Scroll down to read more about the application and selection process.

The Inspiration

J. David Edwards was the founding and long-time Executive Director of JNCL-NCLIS. He served this essential and unique organization for 31 years, guiding the world language and international studies professions through the passage of the Foreign Language Assistance Program (FLAP) program and the development of the National Security Education Program (NSEP) as well as many other notable legislative endeavors and challenges. Dave was a political scientist by profession, not a language teacher and not a politician, but truly gave his heart and soul to our field. He was the quintessential advocate.

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Dr. J. David Edwards

Through endless connections and a vast knowledge of political culture and history, Dave steered generations of teachers and professional leaders to make an impact legislatively. His deep friendships and connections to legislators and decision-makers on Capitol Hill were an invaluable tool that he used to benefit JNCL- NCLIS’ mission and goals during the decades of his service. Under his leadership, JNCL-NCLIS grew to be an incredible organization that fosters multilingualism and gives language professionals a platform for advocacy. Dave’s leadership and knowledge were only matched by his uncanny ability to perceive, react, and serve as a liaison everywhere he went. It was a privilege for so many to learn from him. It is Dave’s model for consistent relationship and consensus building to achieve goals that will continue to guide us to be successful advocates.


Recognition for extraordinary advocacy efforts carried out at the individual, local, state, regional, national, or international level that contribute to the JNCL-NCLIS mission and serve to expand access to languages other than English. The award will highlight exemplary advocacy initiatives and inspire others as they passionately pursue common goals.


A nominee for the Language Advocate of the Year Award must:

  1. Be a member of a JNCL-NCLIS member organization that is in good financial standing (organization has paid JNCL-NCLIS annual dues by September 1st);

  2. Commit to participate in the Language Advocacy Awards presentation to be held during Language Advocacy Days.

  3. Be nominated, in writing, by the leadership of the said member organization via the online application (see "Online Nominations Form" below).


Current Board Members are NOT eligible for the award. 

Selection Criteria

All nominees will be considered based on their documented contributions in the following areas:


Stakeholder Engagement

  • Has a relationship with their congressional delegation and/or their staff (local, state, and/or federal),

  • Has contacted policymakers in order to advance JNCL’s public policy priorities.


Grassroots Awareness and Action

  • Has encouraged his or her colleagues within his or her organization to participate in JNCL’s advocacy work,

  • Has generated support and/or raised awareness among other Americans about the vital national importance of the Language Enterprise, including its economic and social benefits to Americans of all ages outside of his or her organization’s network,

  • Has directly shared their knowledge and passion for language access with others through writing or speaking opportunities at the local, state, and national levels,

  • Has participated and/or led successful advocacy efforts at the local, state, or, national level.

The nominee's actions do not necessarily have to result in legislation passed or policy changed. For example, the successful defense of a language program from closure or of a policy that supports the Language Enterprise such as the graduation requirement, the defeat of legislation that threatens the field in some way, such as a “coding bill,” might qualify. Nominees do not necessarily have to be the Advocacy Chair of the member organization.

Selection Process

  • The nomination period will open mid-July and closes in October (see below for exact dates).

  • The selection process will be conducted by the Awards Committee, whose Chair is selected each year by the President of the Board of Directors. Per the Bylaws, the committee will be composed of three Board Members, excluding the President, and two JNCL staff members. The committee will review all nominations submitted prior to the stated deadline and select a recipient that best fulfills the award criteria.

  • The Awards Committee in consultation with staff will then select a group of finalists from which the Board of Directors will select one recipient.

  • The selection process will take place from October to November.

The Award includes...

The sponsored award will include:

  1. An award plaque and recognition during the Language Advocacy Awards presentation during Language Advocacy Days,

  2. Complimentary registration to Language Advocacy Days, an all-inclusive travel stipend, and two nights lodging at the conference location (when event takes place onsite),

  3. A spotlight profile on the JNCL-NCLIS awards webpage

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Generous funding for this award comes from our partners at Avant Assessment

The Online Nominations Form

Only member organizations of JNCL-NCLIS in good financial standing (paid JNCL-NCLIS annual dues by September 1st) may submit nominations.


The nominator will need to provide the following when submitting your nomination: 

  • One official letter of recommendation (2 pages max.) from the nominating organization about the nominee. Briefly highlight the challenge(s) faced, the advocacy initiative(s) undertaken and its impact within the context of the award’s purpose.

  • The nominee’s most current resume or C.V.;

  • (optional) The nominee’s personal statement (2 pages max), detailing his or her personal purpose for advocating for language(s) and how his or her advocacy efforts provoked positives changes and/or inspired others.

Please note that these documents should be compiled into one file for ease of upload 

Once you submit a nomination, JNCL-NCLIS will email the nominee at the email address you have provided to confirm their participation in the contest.  

Application Deadline for the 2024 Award:

COB Tuesday, October 31st, 2023. 

past recipients

2022 - Michele Anciaux Aoki, National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL)

2021– Lorena Ortiz Schneider, Ortiz Schneider Interpreting & Translation; CoPTIC

2020– Toni Theisen, Thompson School District

2019 – Linda Markley, Florida Foreign Language Association (FFLA)

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