Dole Institute to honor former Sen. Tom Harkin with 2017 Dole Leadership Prize

Former Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, speaks during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics announced on Monday that retired U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin is the recipient this year’s Dole Leadership Prize.

The former Iowa senator will receive his award during a public program Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. at the Dole Institute, 2350 Petefish Drive.

First elected to Congress in 1974, Harkin represented Iowa for more than four decades, serving 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives before winning election to the U.S. Senate in 1984. Over his long career, Harkin notably focused on issues related to health care access and nutrition, farm policy and labor.

Perhaps his signature legislative achievement was the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law (with the help of ADA champion Bob Dole, according to the Dole Institute’s press release) in 1990. Then a young senator, Harkin was brought on board by U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy to craft legislation protecting the civil rights of Americans with physical and mental disabilities. What emerged was the ADA.

In 2008, Harkin became the first Iowa Democrat to win a fifth term in the Senate. He retired from office in January 2015.

The Dole Leadership Prize is awarded annually to an individual or group “whose public service leadership inspires others,” according to the news release. Previous winners include Nelson Mandela, Congressman John Lewis, former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, the Women Air Service Pilots of WWII and the Wounded Warrior Project, among many others.

Next month’s ceremony is free and open to the public, and a live stream of the event will be available at