HMH Foundation

The First Amendment Awards

The HMH First Amendment Awards spotlight individuals who have made significant contributions to protecting and enhancing First Amendment rights for all Americans. Since the inception of the awards, more than 150 individuals, including high school students, lawyers, librarians, journalists, and educators, have been honored.

Christie Hefner, former Chairperson and CEO of Playboy Enterprises, Inc., founded the First Amendment Awards in 1979, as a way to elevate and support the often unsung heroes who are relentless in their pursuit of a more just society. Winners are selected by a panel of distinguished judges.

The First Amendment Awards

The 2022 First Amendment Awards

September 2022
the National Press Club In Washington, D.C

The First Amendment Awards

The 2022 Judges

Meet this year’s judges: experts and leaders in their fields who embody the multitude of ways careers can be shaped around protecting freedom of expression.


Allison Stanger

Allison Stanger is the Russell Leng ’60 Professor of International Politics and Economics at Middlebury College; a Research Affiliate (Co-lead, Theory of AI Practice Initiative) at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, and External Professor and Science Board member at the Santa Fe Institute. She is the author of Whistleblowers: Honesty in America from Washington to Trump and One Nation Under Contract: The Outsourcing of American Power and the Future of Foreign Policy. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, International Herald Tribune, The New York Times and The Washington Post, among many other prestigious publications. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was the 2020 Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in Ethics and American History at the Library of Congress and 2020-21 SAGE Sara Miller McCune Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University. Stanger was the 2019 First Amendment Award winner in Education for her staunch defense of the free exchange of ideas on college campuses.


Julia B. Chan

Julia B. Chan is the editor-in-chief of The 19th, an independent, nonprofit newsroom. A veteran multi-platform journalist, she held newsroom leadership positions at KQED in the Bay Area and at Mother Jones after spending the first half of her career at Reveal for the Center for Investigative Reporting. Prior to that, she worked at The San Francisco Examiner. Chan’s digital and investigative work has won awards for innovation, and her dedication to building community was honored by the Online News Association (ONA). Outside of the newsroom, Chan serves on the board of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and is a founder of the Journalists of Color Slack. She’s a proud alum of San Francisco State University and Foothill College.


Will Creeley

Will Creeley is the Legal Director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Since joining FIRE in 2006, Creeley has successfully defended the rights of students and faculty nationwide. He coordinates FIRE’s legal advocacy and manages FIRE’s litigation, policy reform, legislative and policy, and targeted advocacy departments. Creeley has appeared on national television and radio on FIRE’s behalf, and he has spoken to thousands of students, faculty, administrators and attorneys about civil liberties at events across the country. A co-author of First Things First: A Modern Coursebook on Free Speech Fundamentals, Creeley’s writing has been published by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Chronicle of Higher Education and many other prominent outlets. He has authored amicus curiae briefs submitted to courts nationwide, including the Supreme Court of the United States and multiple United States Courts of Appeals. Barred in New York and Pennsylvania, Creeley is a member of the First Amendment Lawyers Association and serves as Co-Chair of the Education Subcommittee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice.

The First Amendment Awards are open by nomination only. Help us discover those who dare, strive and imagine to create a future that benefits us all.

The First Amendment Awards

The 2022 Honorees

Congratulations to our 2022 winners! We are honored to support the work of those who are shining light on injustices — and carving out opportunities to confront them.

Manuel Duran

Journalism Winner

Journalist Manuel Duran has demonstrated unflagging courage and commitment to covering protests and real-time social issues. In 2018, Manuel was arrested while reporting on a protest against immigration in Memphis, TN. Shortly after his arrest charges were dropped, but he was detained by ICE for 15 months. It took four years after his initial arrest before Duran received asylum from the U.S. government. 

Amy Sohn

Book Publishing Winner

New York Times best-selling author Amy Sohn’s first nonfiction book, The Man Who Hated Women, traces the forgotten history of the war over control of women’s bodies. It shares the stories of women who risked their lives prior to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920. Their struggle to redefine contraceptive access as a civil liberty paved the path for the Pill, Planned Parenthood, and Roe v. Wade.

Joslyn Diffenbaugh

Education Winner

High school freshman Joslyn Diffenbaugh started a “Teen Banned Books Club” in her hometown of Kutztown, Pennsylvania. She asked a local bookstore to carry books banned in her community and they quickly agreed. Her bravery and passion have had a ripple effect. Across the country, students have started banned book clubs and are taking action against local school boards that are forbidding certain books in classrooms.

Dawn Wooten

Government Winner

Dawn Wooten exposed the inadequate medical care provided to immigrant detainees at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC). As a nurse at ICDC, Dawn filed a whistleblower complaint in September 2020, catalyzing an investigation and a class action lawsuit on behalf of the survivors. Her fearlessness in exposing wrongdoings led the Department of Homeland Security to order the ICDC to end immigration detention at the facility in May 2021.

Michael Bamberger

Lifetime Achievement Winner

Michael Bamberger is a leading free speech lawyer who has appeared in over 100 First Amendment cases. He has appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court, nine federal courts of appeals, the New York Court of Appeals, federal and state trial courts, and state supreme courts. He challenged countless unconstitutional laws and actions that restricted the display, distribution, and sale of books, periodicals, videos, and online materials.