Amy Acton headshot


Dr. Amy Acton will be honored by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation with the Profile in Courage Award for her efforts to protect others and her bravery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The foundation, headquartered in Boston, will honor Acton and six others for risking their own health and safety to help others during the pandemic, according to a May 4 news release.

Acton, former director of the Ohio Department of Health, and the other honorees will be presented their awards during a virtual ceremony at 6 p.m. May 26. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, and her son, Jack Schlossberg, will present the awards.

“Today’s honorees put their own lives at risk to keep others safe,” stated Caroline Kennedy, honorary president of the JFK Library Foundation and former United States ambassador to Japan during the Obama administration. “They inspire us all with their courage and give new meaning to President Kennedy’s legacy of public service.”

According to the release, Acton “boldly proposed an aggressive shelter-in-place order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Her leadership put Ohio ahead of most other states in responding to the virus, but she became the target of protesters and legislators, who sought to limit her power and even engaged in personal attacks against her.” She is the first woman physician appointed to Ohio’s top public health position.

The other honorees are: Burnell Cotlon, owner of Burnell’s Market in New Orleans; Fred Freeman, fire department captain of Hanover, Mass.; Antonio Greene, Amazon associate and former delivery associate in Charleston, S.C.; Lauren Leander, an Arizona intensive care nurse; Darrell R. Marks, Native American academic adviser for Flagstaff High School in Arizona; and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

“These heroes went above and beyond for their community and our country, and remind us that we all can make a difference if we answer the call to serve,” said Schlossberg, a member of the Profile in Courage Award committee, in the release.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, will also be honored during the ceremony for his historic vote in the first 2020 impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, the release said.

The foundation is a nonprofit founded in 1984 to provide financial support, staffing and creative resources for the JFK Presidential Library and Museum, a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. For additional information, visit

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