Ethics In Action award

Recognizing an individual or group in the St. Louis community that has provided courageous and dedicated service to the rights and dignity of their fellow human beings. Honored individuals may work in religious, social, political, economic, medical, educational, ecological, recreational, or artistic areas.

The award was established in 1975 by James S. McDonnell in honor of James F. Hornback, who led the Ethical Society of St. Louis from 1951-1980. He was also the first recipient.

2017 Award Recipient

Cecilia Nadal, Executive Director of Gitana Productions, embodies the ethical value of bringing out the best in the human spirit. Through her career from the 1980s onward, Cecilia Nadal has focused on helping underserved and disadvantaged members of the St. Louis community as a teacher, counselor, and as the founder of an employment agency for immigrants and the hard core unemployed. As nominator Vanetta Rogers points out, “The great news is that many of the program completers are still employed and have made remarkable advancements along their career ladders. The credit goes to Cecilia for her amazing ability to understand both sides of an equation and her ability to organize the forces necessary for all involved ... to achieve mutual respect and cooperation.”

Past Award Recipients

2016: ArchCity Defenders. Providing holistic legal advocacy and combating the criminalization of poverty and state violence against poor people and people of color, ArchCity Defenders has exposed systemic abuses by municipal courts and local police in the St. Louis area.

A non-profit civil rights law firm using direct services, impact litigation, and policy and media advocacy as its primary tools to promote justice, protect civil and human rights, and bring about systemic change on behalf of the poor and communities of color directly impacted by the abuses of the legal system. They received the Award for their outstanding efforts on behalf of this underserved community.

2015: Arlene Zarembka is a local attorney and activist who has dedicated her professional life to defending the rights of those who are among the least powerful. Missouri Supreme Court Justice Richard B. Teitelman wrote of her, “Throughout her life Arlene has been a champion of the underdog.” He wrote also, “No cause was too big or too small; no client unworthy of Arlene’s advocacy” and “Arlene represented her clients very ably against the best lawyers in St. Louis, gaining their profound respect.”

2014: Dr. Patrica Wolff and Meds & Food for Kids (MFK). In 2003, Dr. Patricia Wolff, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Washington University’s School of Medicine, founded Meds & Food for Kids in response to her frustration of watching malnourished Haitian children needlessly die. After visiting RUTF pioneer and Washington University colleague Dr. Mark Manary in Malawi, Dr. Wolff was inspired to transfer the best-practice therapy of RUTF to Haiti in 2003. MFK currently produces Medika Mamba (“peanut butter medicine” in creole) for acute malnutrition, Plumpy’sup/Mamba Djanm for moderate malnutrition and Vita Mamba, a nutritious school snack. To date, MFK has saved the lives of more than 120,000 severely malnourished children. Also, the MFK factory currently employs 48 local staff members and the MFK agriculture team has trained over 1,300 farmers, teaching them to grow more (and better) peanuts.

2013: The Criminal Justice Ministry was organized in 1979 under the auspices of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louis Council. CJM began by coordinating jail ministry in the St. Louis Area, then extended its ministry to jails and prisons throughout the geographic Archdiocese of St. Louis and provided various forms of assistance to persons released into St. Louis. The program’s stated mission is this: "Criminal Justice Ministry improves the safety and well-being of individuals affected by crime and the criminal justice system, their families and their communities in the Greater St. Louis Area through person-to person assistance rooted in Jesus Christ's message of love, reconciliation and hope." CJM's intent is "to serve and not to judge." The services of Criminal Justice Ministry bring comfort to those who are incarcerated and show the prisoners that they are valued as persons. CJM provides religious services, one-on-one visits, classes in jails and prisons and coordinates a pen pal program.

2012: L. Lewis Wall, M.D., D.Phil. Dr. Wall's determination to help women in Africa and other third world countries living with untreated obstetric fistulas, which cause urinary and fecal incontinence, has compelled and inspired him to devote time, money and expertise in the creation of a Worldwide Fistula Fund and the building of the Danja Fitula Center in Niger – one of the few medical centers specifically devoted to assisting women with prevention and treatment of fistulas and re-storing those so treated to lives of dignity and worth. Not content with increased awareness, funding and doctors trained to treat fistulas, Dr. Wall has expanded his vision to launch an ambitious goal of a 12-year, $1.5 billion campaign to create similar centers in all corners of the world where such care is needed. These centers would provide not only surgery but comprehensive maternal health education and outreach. In addition they would serve and empower women with instruction in microfinance.

2011: Joan Suarez is founder of Missouri Immigrant & Refugee Advocates and cofounder of Harriet’s List. Retired from a career as a union official, Ms. Suarez has gone on to a dedicated second career of advocacy for workers and immigrants, serving on the Executive Committees and Boards of such organizations as St. Louis Pro-Vote, Consumers Council of Missouri, Interfaith Legal Services for Immigrants, and Jobs With Justice; while making significant service commitments to organizations such as the Peace Economy Project, the Community Arts and Media Project and the Interfaith Committee on Latin America. This mentor, leader, and organizer is recognized by many, in the words of nominator Lynda Callon, as a person whose "personal tenets of moral and ethical integrity are steadfast."

2010: Leon "Bud" Deraps is a force for peace to be reckoned with! Whether holding the US military responsible for the hidden casualties of war, taking up a collection to help Haitian earthquake victims, acting as the vice-chairperson (or "chairman of vice," as he is fond of saying) for Ethical Action Committee, or delivering our canned goods to Operation Food Search to be distributed to St. Louisans in need, Bud's unceasing energy makes the Ethical Society of St. Louis proud to say he's "ours."

2009: Kingdom House is the oldest settlement house in the metropolitan St. Louis area serving immigrants and other low income families in the near south side since 1902. Kingdom House provides broad-spectrum social services including day care, after school and youth programs, crisis assistance, job training, a food bank, social service referral, respite care, social activities and senior companion care without regard to religion or cultural heritage.

2008: Judge Richard B. Teitelman is one of seven judges who sit on the Missouri Supreme Court. He was appointed to this position in February 2002 following four years of service as a judge on the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District. His legal career prior to becoming a judge was devoted to providing access to high quality civil legal services for the poor, first as the managing attorney of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri’s consumer law unit and then, for 18 years, as the executive director of the agency.

2007: Joan Lipkin, is a playwright, director, teacher, activist and social critic who has established several theater groups, including That Uppity Theatre Company and the DisAbility Project. Her work is devoted to creatively portraying the life dimensions of everyday people, including the lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, gay and questioning (LBTGQ) population, cancer survivors, those with disabilities, the indigent and racial or cultural minorities.

2006: Dr. Fred Rottnek's life integrates the practice of medicine with his love of teaching, commitment to social justice, spirituality, and theology. His patients are the homeless and those incarcerated in St. Louis County. Dr. Rottnek works with many local homeless shelters and nonprofit agencies, providing direct, on-site health care services to people in shelters and other locations where they go to obtain goods and services needed for their day-to-day survival.

2005: Dr. Suzsanne H. Singer for founding the Singer Institute for severely disturbed adolescents and for founding Community Cares, a program to train senior volunteers to become companions to elderly people in a nursing home.

2004: Rev. Ted and Linda Schroeder for their extraordinary efforts and leadership to enable people who are incarcerated or ex-offenders to lead a better life.

2003: Chris Krehmeyer, for his ten years of work as Executive Director of Beyond Housing, an outstanding non-profit organization providing homes and support services to low income families.

2002: Eddie Mae Binion, for her 40 years of work as a staunch advocate for people on public assistance.

2001: David A. Lander, for his ongoing work identifying and working to solve social justice problems.

2000: Ann Carter Stith, for her long-term dedication to criminal justice, legislative reform, and child abuse prevention.

1999: William Ramsey, for his efforts to call attention to and actively protest human rights violations in the United States and around the world.

1998: Jeanette Mott Oxford, for her leadership in combating poverty and injustice and for helping people with low incomes become their own advocates.

1997: Arthur and Marian Wirth, who pioneered support groups for parents and families of gay children and advocated parents' support of gay rights.

1996: Richard and Kaye Parvis, for helping disadvantaged people achieve their educational and social goals.

1995: Peter DeSimone, a leader in social justice.

1994: Blanche M. Touhill, for leadership in education for the whole community.

1993: Janet Becker, an activist in promoting housing for low-income families.

1992: B.J. Iassacson-Jones, for courageous leadership in founding Common Ground, a coalition to mitigate the polarization of and around abortion issues.

1990/91: Julia Goldstein, for her work in helping children at risk develop self-esteem in order to secure a successful future.

1989: ACLU/Eastern Division, for their defense of civil liberties.

1988: Hedy Epstein, for activism in peace and justice.

1987: Bertha Gilkey, a tenant management organizer.

1986: Thomas Engelhardt, an editorial cartoonist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

1985: Marion Jenkins Brooks, for efforts in the education of disadvantaged students.

1984: International Institute of Metropolitan St. Louis, for service to foreign-born residents.

1983: Kay and Leo Drey, environmentalists and conservationists.

1982: Paul Dewald, M.D., a psychoanalyst, educator, and author.

1981: Eldora Spiegelberg, for activism for peace and justice.

1980: Deverne and Ernest Calloway, for education and leadership in the St. Louis black community.

1979: Senator Harriett Woods, for leadership in promoting the rights of the elderly and nursing home patients.

1978: Frank E. Nutt, for leadership in election reform.

1977: Frank Susman, for his support, as an attorney, in representing the rights of women to seek abortion.

1976: James F. Hornback, in recognition of his 25 years of leadership in the Ethical Society of St. Louis

James F. Hornback
James F. Hornback

The annual Ethics in Action award was formerly called the Ethical Humanist of the Year award. It was established in 1975 by the late James S. McDonnell. Since its establishment, the award has been given to honor an eclectic group of people associated with diverse issues or causes.