Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel will deliver the 2023 Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) will be recognized with this year’s Everett C. Parker Award.

The annual breakfast and awards ceremony, hosted by United Church of Christ’s Media Justice Ministry, will be held at 8 a.m. on Tuesday October 24 at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Washington, DC and will be simultaneously live-streamed.

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The 41st Annual Parker Lecture will offer FCC Chair Rosenworcel an opportunity to reflect on her dramatic impact on the world of communications policy. By the time of this year’s lecture, Rosenworcel will become the longest-serving FCC commissioner of anyone appointed since 1975, giving her a unique perspective on the range of telecommunications issues that impact society today. She became a commissioner in 2012 and was designated as the agency’s acting chair and later permanent chair by President Biden in 2021. Previously, she served as senior communications counsel for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.  Under her FCC leadership, the agency has worked to promote greater opportunity, accessibility, and affordability for communications services to help ensure that all Americans get a fair shot at 21st-century success.

From fighting to protect net neutrality to ensuring access to the internet for students caught in the Homework Gap, Chair Rosenworcel has been a consistent champion for connecting all. She is responsible for developing policies to help expand the reach of broadband to schools, libraries, hospitals, and households across the country. Under her leadership, the FCC adopted two orders improving access and affordability of communications for incarcerated people and moved quickly to implement the Affordable Connectivity Program, providing high-speed broadband internet subsidies to low-income people.

Sen. Duckworth will be recognized with the Everett Parker Award, given to an individual whose work embodies the spirit and mission of the late Rev. Parker, who founded the UCC Media Justice Ministry in 1959 under its former name Office of Communication, Inc. (OC Inc.). Duckworth will be honored for her leadership in the passage of the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act early this year.  The law gave the FCC the authority it needed to establish maximum rates for communications providers serving prisons, jails and similar facilities—including in-state rates. Passage of the legislation capped a decade of work by UCC Media Justice to help incarcerated persons stay in touch with their loved ones without paying exorbitant rates for communications services.

Duckworth was elected to the Senate in 2016 after serving two terms in the U.S. House. In 2004, she lost her legs and partial use of one arm during service with the Illinois National Guard during the Iraq War. She later advocated for veterans as director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and as an assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs in the Obama administration. She is a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. After she became the first senator to give birth while in office, she sent a symbolic message to the rest of the country by working for historic rules change that allows senators to bring their infant children onto the Senate floor.

About the UCC’s media justice ministry and the Parker Lecture

The UCC Media Justice Ministry is the media justice instrumentality of the United Church of Christ denomination, which includes approximately 5,000 congregations and nearly three quarters of a million members. Rev. Dr. Parker was inspired by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to reform television coverage of the civil rights movement in the South. The advocacy of OC Inc., UCC Media Justice’s predecessor, established the right of community members—not just corporate entities and licensees—to participate before the FCC and compelled the FCC to deny the broadcast license renewal of the pro-segregationist television station WLBT-TV in Jackson, Miss., in 1969 for failing to serve the public interest.

The Parker Lecture was created in 1982 to recognize the Rev. Dr. Parker’s pioneering work as an advocate for the public’s rights in broadcasting. The Parker Lecture is the only program of its kind in the United States that examines telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective.

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