Distinguished Public Leadership Award Ceremony

David Obey and Thomas Petri

This event has passed.

Wisconsin State Capitol – Room 412E
@ 10:00 am

The Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership is delighted to announce that David Obey and Thomas Petri will be honored as the 2023–2024 recipients of the Tommy G. Thompson Distinguished Public Leadership Award.

Consistent with Tommy’s legacy, the Tommy G. Thompson Distinguished Public Leadership Award seeks to recognize Wisconsinites who have committed themselves to public service, worked tirelessly to advance sound public policy, and exhibited virtuous leadership. This award seeks to recognize leaders who have exercised sound judgment and an entrepreneurial spirit and served as exceptional role models for others in public service.

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Portrait of David Obey

U.S. Representative David Obey represented Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District for 42 years from 1969 to 2011. He served two stints as Chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations and was the longest serving member of Congress from Wisconsin up until 2020. He also chaired the commission to write the House’s Code of Ethics, requiring members to disclose their personal financial dealings so the public would be made aware of any potential conflicts of interest. His “Obey Amendment” is still in act today and has prohibited the export of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor to American allies such as Japan. Obey served three full terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly, playing a key role in creating Wisconsin’s modern system of Technical College Districts and establishing the state’s network of public broadcasting stations. Obey was raised in Wausau, Wisconsin, and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Portrait of Thomas Petri

U.S. Representative Thomas Petri represented Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District for 18 terms until his retirement in 2015. He was a senior member of both the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Education and the Workforce. In the 113th Congress, he served as Chairman of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee and previously served as chair of the Aviation subcommittee. He also served as the Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives-British Parliament exchange, the House French Caucus, and the House German Caucus. Japanese Emperor Akihito conferred on Rep. Petri honorary membership in the Order of the Rising Sun in 2014, and Queen Elizabeth II made Petri an honorary Officer of the British Empire in 2015. Petri was born in Marinette, Wisconsin, and received his undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, respectively. He was a former clerk of U.S. Judge James Doyle, served in Somalia as a Peace Corps volunteer, and was a Wisconsin State Senator from 1973 to 1979.

In addition to their long careers in public service, Obey and Petri collaborated on the Civic Participation Lecture Series in 2015. Through this series of public lectures across Wisconsin, they worked to promote civic participation in bipartisan discussions on key policy issues and inform the public about how politics work at the state and national levels. The series was presented by the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service and the David R. Obey Civic Resource Center.