Media Relations Manager
New York, NY (July 21, 2021)—Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights announced Wednesday the winners of its 2021 Ripple of Hope Awards: Stacey Abrams, political leader, entrepreneur, and author; José E. Feliciano, co-founder and managing partner of Clearlake Capital Group; Deven Parekh, managing director of Insight Partners; and Hans Vestberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon.
For 53 years, the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award has honored exemplary leaders across government, business, advocacy, and entertainment who have taken a bold stand for justice and human rights, not only supporting these causes in principle but actively working to protect and advance the dignity and well-being of all.
This year’s laureates embody the steadfast commitment and ingenuity needed to create lasting change, particularly in the areas of voting rights and racial equity. They have mobilized and inspired countless others to join the fight to ensure all Americans—especially Black, Brown, young, and poor voters—have an equal opportunity to make their voices heard and their views represented.
The laureates will be honored Thursday, December 9, at a hybrid ceremony featuring master of ceremonies Alec Baldwin.
“For as long as Americans have had the right to vote, we’ve had enemies of democracy working to restrict, suppress, and violate the will of the people, particularly those from poor and underrepresented communities,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “These underlying problems within our political system do not happen in a vacuum. We need the decisive, moral leadership of people like our 2021 Ripple of Hope Award laureates to uplift the voices of the marginalized and dismantle the oppressive structural causes of injustice and inequality across all arenas.”
“Robert F. Kennedy dedicated his life to the protection of our freedoms,” said Stacey Abrams. “He fought for equality for all people, regardless of color or background, and he lifted up their causes. I am honored to receive this award that reflects his vision for social change. Access to the right to vote is essential to achieving racial and social justice, and pursuit of fairness, equity, and opportunity must be a constant mission.”
“It is a great honor to be recognized by Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, an organization that has been working tirelessly for decades to overcome inequality and promote human rights,” said José E. Feliciano, co-founder and managing partner of Clearlake Capital Group. “Today, more than ever, there is a new urgency to continue RFK’s legacy and address the numerous challenges our society is facing, including persistent economic and social inequities. As Bobby Kennedy himself said, ‘A world of constantly accelerating economic progress … would, in short, be a world that we would be proud to have built.’ It is my strong belief that through investment in education and entrepreneurship, as well as improving access to capital, we can level the playing field.”
“Robert F. Kennedy’s legacy of courage and his spirit of humanitarianism have inspired generations of Americans, including myself,” said Deven Parekh, managing director of Insight Partners. “His commitment to economic equality and social progress has endured the test of time. I am truly humbled and honored to accept the Ripple of Hope Award alongside such accomplished leaders.”
“It’s truly humbling to be included alongside this remarkable group of human rights champions,” said Hans Vestberg, chairman and CEO of Verizon. “There has never been a more critical moment to demonstrate the power of purpose. It is our responsibility as one of the largest companies in the world to address the economic, environmental, and societal issues that are most pressing and to move the world forward through the power of action, inclusion, and technology.”
The Ripple of Hope Award is inspired by Robert F. Kennedy’s most famous speech, the 1966 Day of Affirmation address he gave in South Africa at the height of apartheid: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
Previous winners of the Ripple of Hope Award include Barack Obama, Tim Cook, Colin Kaepernick, Dolores Huerta, Desmond Tutu, Hillary Clinton, John Lewis, Bono, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Nancy Pelosi, Robert F. Smith, George Clooney, Bill Clinton, and Joe Biden.
Learn more about RFK Human Rights and its annual Ripple of Hope Award at RFKHumanRights.org/Awards.
2021 RFK Ripple of Hope Award Laureates
Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams)
Political leader, entrepreneur, and author
Stacey Abrams is a political leader, voting rights activist, entrepreneur, and New York Times bestselling author. After serving for 11 years in the Georgia House of Representatives, seven as minority leader, Abrams became the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia, winning more votes than any other Democrat in the state’s history. Dedicated to civic engagement, Abrams has founded multiple organizations devoted to voting rights, training and hiring young people of color, and tackling social issues at both the state and national levels. She founded Fair Fight Action to ensure every American has a voice in our election system, Fair Count to ensure accuracy in the 2020 Census, and the Southern Economic Advancement Project, a public policy initiative to broaden economic power and build equity in the South. Abrams is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and sits on the boards of the LBJ Foundation, the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, the Center for American Progress, and the Marguerite Casey Foundation.
José E. Feliciano (#JoseEFeliciano)
Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Clearlake Capital Group
José E. Feliciano is co-founder and managing partner of Clearlake Capital Group, L.P., a leading private investment firm he co-founded in 2006. In addition to his investing responsibilities, Feliciano is responsible for the day-to-day management of the firm. In 2014, he and his wife, Kwanza Jones, co-founded the SUPERCHARGED Initiative, a philanthropic grantmaking and impact investment organization that invests in both nonprofits and for-profit ventures that are compatible with its goal to make a lasting impact across four key priorities: education, entrepreneurship, equal opportunity, and empowerment. In addition, Feliciano serves on the boards of directors of the Robert Toigo Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the career advancement and increased leadership of underrepresented talent, and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.
Deven Parekh (@djparekh)
Managing Director, Insight Partners
Deven Parekh is a managing director at Insight Partners. Since joining the firm in 2000, he has been a vocal advocate for opportunity and inclusion, initiating efforts to promote women and minority leaders across Insight’s internal team, portfolio, and the wider software and investment ecosystems as a whole. Parekh is a member of the board of directors for several institutions, including the U.S. Development Finance Corporation, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and NYU Langone. He is also chairman emeritus of the board of Publicolor, a nonprofit organization focused on New York City public schools. In 2006, Parekh was named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute, which seeks to develop the next generation of community-spirited leaders.
Hans Vestberg (@hansvestberg)
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Verizon
Hans Vestberg is chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications. During his tenure, Verizon has prioritized its diversity and inclusion initiatives, including a $10 million pledge to support organizations dedicated to racial equity and social justice. Before joining Verizon in April 2017, Vestberg served for six years as president and CEO of Ericsson, a multinational telecommunications company that provides 35 percent of the world’s 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile network infrastructures. Vestberg is a founding member of the International Telecommunications Union Broadband Commission for Digital Development, where he led climate change and digital health initiatives. He is also a member of the Leadership Council of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network and serves on the board of the UN Foundation and the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative. He is a founding chairman of the World Economic Forum’s EDISON Alliance, a global movement to prioritize digital inclusion as foundational to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals; a member of the Leadership Council of the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network; and a member of the boards of the UN Foundation, the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative, and BlackRock.
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
We are a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that has worked to realize Robert F. Kennedy’s dream of a more just and peaceful world since 1968. In partnership with local activists, we advocate for key human rights issues—championing changemakers and pursuing strategic litigation at home and around the world. And to ensure change that lasts, we foster a social-good approach to business and investment and educate millions of students about human rights and social justice.