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Torchbearer Reception


Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib

The Torchbearer Award is the most prestigious honor that WAND presents at the national conference. The award is given to leaders in the fields of peace, justice, and the advancement of women. Previous recipients include journalist Helen Thomas, playwright Eve Ensler, Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, and Members of Congress such as Rep.Jeanne Shaheen, Rep. Donna Edwards, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, and Rep. Barbara Lee.

This year we are proud to announce our 2019 Torchbearer is, former WiLL member, now Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib! 


We also honored the 2019 WiLL Pacesetters, seven women state legislators who are leading the way towards peace. 

California Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry
Cecilia Aguiar-Curry was the lead sponsor on the first piece of legislation across the country calling on Congress to change the nuclear weapons policy in August of 2018. On it’s passing she said “This is an existential debate.  Joint Resolution 30 demonstrates Californians’ commitment to protecting all of the world’s people, not just Americans, from the terror of a nuclear war.  And, one person must not be allowed to make that decision for us all.” She represents wine country and the Sacramento valley. Prior to her election to the Assembly in, she was the first woman to be Mayor of the city of Winters. 

Georgia State Representative Becky Evans

Rep. Becky Evans who was elected last year and represents district 83 which includes parts of the City of Atlanta, City of Decatur, and unincorporated DeKalb County. While at our DC training last December, she committed to introducing legislation urging Congress to impose limits on the President's First Use nuclear strike capabilities. As well as bring attention to nuclear dangers right in Georgia from the Savannah River Site Nuclear Complex. We look forward to continuing the fight in georgia with Rep. Evans and our partners at Georgia WAND.

Massachusetts State Representative Natalie Higgins
Rep. Natalie Higgins who was elected in 2016 to represent District 4 Worcester. After learning about the issue at our 2017 conference, she co-sponsored a joint resolution in the Massachusetts state house in 2018 calling on Congress to change its nuclear weapons policy. This year she is the lead sponsor of a joint  No First Use resolution, working closely with the vibrant and active community of peace activists in Massachusetts. 

Oregon State Representative Alissa Keny- Guyer
Rep. Keny-Guyer was appointed to the legislature in 2011 and was elected in 2012. She represents Portland and is Chair of the House Committee on Human Services and Housing. In 2019 she introduced a bill that urged Congress to lead a global effort to reduce the threat of nuclear war. The legislation gained the support of 31 organizations, a Japanese Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor), Hanford Downwinder, Atomic Veteran, and the Marshallese community.

Maryland Delegate Pamela Queen
has been in office since 2016 and represents district 14 in northern Montgomery county. She introduced a resolution in the Maryland State House in 2018 and wrote a letter in 2019 signed by the then Speaker of the Maryland House and 48 members of the legislature. The letter was sent to Maryland’s Congressional Delegation and  prompted a response from Senator Cardin. Delegate Queen is the Maryland General Assembly’s leader on this issue and she frequently speaks at local peace events in her district. 


Vermont State Representative Mary Sullivan
Rep. Sullivan was elected in 1991 to represent the Chittenden district of Burlington and sits on the House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. She introduced resolutions calling for changes to our nuclear weapons policy in both 2018 and 2019. In 2018 the legislation had 7 sponsors, but her No First Use resolution in 2019 tripled the number of cosponsors in the Vermont House of Representatives. Rep. Sullivan’s care for the health of the planet carries over to her strong environmental stances, such as encouraging investments in renewable energy and calling for pension funds to divest from fossil fuel stocks.

Mississippi State Representative Kathy Sykes
Rep. Sykes has represented Jackson, Mississippi since 2016. She has worked as a grassroots community organizer and political consultant for over 15 years. Rep. Sykes has written numerous op-eds in her local paper, The Clarion Ledger, on nuclear weapons policy, the federal budget, and an article on the anniversary of the only nuclear bomb to be detonated east of the rockies in Mississippi. Rep Sykes motto is  “Finding Common Ground for The Common Good” and her commitment to building a safer, more peaceful, equitable world for all through her organizing and writing is inspiring to us all.



Sayre Sheldon

Janice Kelley worked in Arlington WAND office during the 1980s, touching many lives with her quiet, gentle strength. She was a role model and inspiration to women who believe we can make a difference through ordinary actions done with extraordinary passion. Janice died of cancer in 1998; this award was established in her honor during the final years of her life. She remembered WAND in her will, and we are eternally grateful for all her gifts to us.

The Janice Kelley award is given to WAND members who persist in the face of obstacles, work above and beyond the call of duty, eagerly go out on a limb, and inspire others simply by being who they are. 


This year there is no one more qualified for this award then to one of the Founding Mothers of WAND, and past President, Sayre Sheldon. Sayre has devoted her life to the effort of ridding the world of nuclear weapons, and has insisted on the importance of involving women in that effort. Inspired by Dr. Helen Caldicott in 1981, Sayre helped establish WAND, and she continues to sit on the Board of Directors today. Sayre served for many years as WAND’s official delegate to the United Nations. She is the published author of two books and numerous letters to the editor in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and other outlets on the human and financial costs of war.

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