Marilyn Carlson Nelson to Receive Human Rights First’s Beacon Prize

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today announced that Marilyn Carlson Nelson, former chairwoman and CEO of the global travel and hospitality company Carlson Inc., will receive the 2016 Beacon Prize in recognition of her pioneering leadership in the fight to end modern slavery. The prize will be bestowed on December 13 during an evening reception at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The event marks the culmination of the organization’s Human Rights Summit, which takes place the same day at the Newseum.

“For decades Marilyn has been a passionate outspoken advocate for those who are vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking, and a pioneer for corporate sector leadership in combating modern slavery,” said Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “Her efforts have inspired other industry leaders to think creatively about how to tackle human trafficking, and changed the lives of countless victims of this horrific crime.”

Mrs. Carlson Nelson is the first person in the corporate sector to be awarded the prestigious Beacon Prize. Under her leadership, Carlson Inc. became an industry leader in the effort to combat human trafficking. The company was the first major North American travel and hospitality corporation to take a public stand against the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children and was an early signatory to the Tourism Child-Protection Code of Conduct.

Mrs. Carlson Nelson has spent decades traveling across the United States and around the world enlisting other business executives to join in the effort to combat modern slavery. As a member of Human Rights First’s Bankrupt Slavery Campaign Ambassadors group, Mrs. Carlson Nelson joins with other business, military, faith, and civil society leaders to advocate for stronger U.S. law and policy to combat human trafficking.

The Beacon Prize is awarded annually to an individual or organization whose work embodies the best in the tradition of American leadership on human rights. Starting with Eleanor Roosevelt’s leading role in shepherding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Americans – government officials and private individuals – have nurtured and shaped the human rights movement, turning the principles enumerated in the Universal Declaration into action. The name of the award echoes the words of leaders from President Ronald Reagan to President Barack Obama who have hailed the United States as a beacon for all those seeking freedom. The Beacon Prize invokes this description as a challenge: America’s beacon shines brightest when our country leads by example and when its actions match its ideals. The Beacon Prize celebrates those whose actions to promote human rights have brought the United States closer to this ideal.

Previous recipients have included Justice Anthony Kennedy, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Senator Bob Dole (R-KS), and Ambassador Christopher J. Stevens (posthumously).


Published on December 8, 2016


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