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 2022 First Amendment Awards
the National Press Club In Washington, D.C
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 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 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 2020 Honorees
Congratulations to our 2020 winners! We are honored to support the work of those who are shining light on injustices — and carving out opportunities to confront them.
Journalist and CNN Correspondent, for representing the power of consummate professionalism during his on-camera arrest while covering the George Floyd protests in Minnesota.
Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz
Arts & Entertainment
Documentary filmmakers, for their successful battle to overcome the US government’s attempts at censoring their film, “Immigration Nation,” and delaying its release until after the November 2020 Presidential election.
Andrea L. Dennis and Erik Nielson
Andrea L. Dennis and Erik Nielson (Book Publishing): Dennis, the John Byrd Martin Chair of Law at the University of Georgia School of Law, and Nielson, the Associate Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of Richmond, for their book Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America, a groundbreaking exposé about the alarming use of rap lyrics as criminal evidence to convict and incarcerate young men of color.
David E. McCraw
Deputy General Counsel of The New York Times, for his book Truth in Our Times: Inside the Fight for Press Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts. McCraw has led the Times’ fight for freedom of information since 2002. From Chelsea Manning’s leaks to Trump’s tax returns, McCraw is central to the paper’s ability to fulfill the public’s right to know.
For his fierce defense of freedom of speech and expression during his 23-year tenure as Executive Director of the ACLU. He is widely recognized as building the robust infrastructure that is today’s ACLU. By the time Ira retired, the ACLU had a $30 million endowment, offices in every state, and was more powerful than ever. Additionally, he saw earlier than most the disproportionate racial consequences of the War on Drugs.
A student at the University of Kentucky, LGBTQ and First Amendment Rights Activist, for working to eliminate free speech zones on campus and successfully leading the effort to draft and enact the bipartisan Kentucky Campus Free Speech Protection Act.