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About the Awards

Since 2007, the Peace Action Fund of New York State has presented an annual award to outstanding individuals who “stay on the stony, long and ofttimes lonely road that leads to peace.” The William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Award is presented to an activist who has exemplified activism and made an impact in achieving a more peaceful world.

The Peace Action Fund of New York State also presents the Don Shaffer Student Peacemaker Award, congratulating an outstanding student chapter on their work and leadership in peace education and activism within their community and amongst their peers.

“Still we march, we who have set our faces toward the sunrise … And tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow we shall stay on the stony, long and ofttimes lonely road that leads to peace. We shall continue to struggle for sanity. We shall go doggedly on towards the new day whose light we hail. And we shall prevail.”

   – Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr., March 1988

Recipients of the William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Peacemaker Award

2023 | Amy Goodman & Afghans for a Better Tomorrow
2022 | Katrina vanden Heuvel
2021 | Etan Thomas & Renee Montgomery
2020 | Desmond Meade
2019 | Bill McKibben
2018 | U.S. Labor Against the War
2017 | LaDonna Brave Bull Allard
2016 | Judy Lerner
2015 | Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry
2014 | Jeremy Scahill
2013 | Medea Benjamin
2012 | Carol Husten
2011 | Representative Barbara Lee
2010 | Father John Dear
2009 | Jennifer Hyman and Cliff Cawthon
2007 | Cora Weiss

About the Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

The Reverend William Sloane Coffin, Jr. was a Christian clergyman and long-time peace activist. He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church and later received ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ. In his younger days, he was a superb athlete, a highly talented pianist, a CIA agent, and later Chaplain of Yale University, where the influence of Reinhold Niebuhr’s social philosophy led him to become a leader in the civil rights and peace movements of the 1960s and 1970s.

He went on to serve as Senior Minister at Riverside Church in New York City from 1977 to 1987. Coffin started a strong nuclear disarmament program at Riverside, and hired Cora Weiss, with whom he had worked during the Vietnam War. In 1987, Coffin resigned from Riverside Church to pursue disarmament activism full-time. He became president of SANE/Freeze (now Peace Action), and retired with the title President Emeritus in the early 1990s.

Annually since 2007, in his honor, the Peace Action Fund of New York State has presented the William Sloane, Coffin Jr. Peacemaker Award to outstanding individuals who “stay on the stony, long and ofttimes lonely road that leads to peace.”

About Don Shaffer

In 2007, Don Shaffer took on Peace Action New York State as his personal project, recognizing the importance of having a strong NY presence in Peace Action’s national network. He mentored the NYS leaders, recruited his friends’ support, connected PANYS to other leaders in the progressive world of NY where he cut his teeth, and brought prestige and seriousness to everything he did. In 2011, he convinced a friend to kickstart the student organizing project of Peace Action Fund of New York State with a grant that allowed PAFNYS to hire a part–time student organizer to launch the student organizing program. Starting with just one chapter in 2012, the student network has continued to grow and flourish, reaching 24 chapters in 2020. Our students carry forward their legacy of Don and his wife Doris in their own peace activism.



The Don Shaffer Student Peacemaker Award congratulates an outstanding student chapter on their work and leadership in peace education and activism within their community and amongst their peers.

Previous Awardees

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Amy Goodman & Afghans for a Better Tomorrow

The 2023 William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Peacemaker award was presented to Amy Goodman, Host and Executive Producer of Democracy Now!, and grassroots advocacy group Afghans for a Better Tomorrow under the banner, Telling Our Story to Build Our Power!

Amy Goodman has, for decades, been amplifying the stories of frontline communities as a journalist and as the host and executive producer of Democracy Now! Her tireless reporting has illuminated the experiences of those harmed by violent conflicts across the globe, including independence activists during the East Timor independence movement and Nigerian villagers who were attacked for opposing Chevron Corporation’s oil activities in the Niger Delta. Goodman has co-authored six New York Times bestsellers and has received numerous accolades for her dedication to impactful reporting, including being the first journalist to receive the Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the 'Alternative Nobel Prize' for “developing an innovative model of truly independent grassroots political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by the mainstream media.” 

Afghans for a Better Tomorrow is organizing the Afghan diaspora community for political power to build a better future for Afghans in the US and abroad, whose lives have been uprooted by the legacy of US militarism. This organization bridges direct support and political advocacy to directly aid recently resettled refugees in the US, including in New York City, and to advocate for more equitable US migration and refugee policies, all while leading interventions to make sure the experiences of Afghans is not written out of the history of the impacts of US militarism in Afghanistan and the entire Middle East region.


Don Shaffer Student Peacemaker Awardee
Peace Action Geneseo

Student chapter of SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY


Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel is the 15th awardee to receive the William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Peacemaker Award. Katrina’s lifetime of work supporting independent and progressive reporting, and in speaking out against war and other global injustice, serve as an inspiration to journalists working in today’s particularly fraught media landscape.


Katrina began working with The Nation as an intern in 1976, becoming a foreign affairs assistant editor in 1984 and eventually being promoted to editor-at-large covering the USSR in 1989. A graduate of Princeton University, Katrina completed a senior thesis titled “American Victims: A Study of the Anti-Communist Crusade” and has long specialized in US-Soviet relations. In 1987, Katrina edited “Gorbachev’s Soviet Union”, a special edition of The Nation which was awarded the New York University Olive Branch Award. Together with her husband, Stephen F. Cohen, Katrina later edited Voices of Glasnost: Interviews with Gorbachev’s Reformers in 1989. In 1995, Katrina was named chief editor of The Nation, serving in the role until stepping down in 2019. Katrina continues her work with The Nation as Editorial Director and Publisher, in addition to writing a weekly column for The Washington Post and appearing as a political commentator on MSNBC.

The Board of Peace Action Fund of New York State (PAFNYS) agreed that Katrina’s tireless efforts in covering US and Soviet/Russian policy, and in advocating for responsible global policy that supports peace and respect for global human rights, made her a worthy recipient of the 2022 Peacemaker Award. PAFNYS honored Katrina under the theme of “Journalism on the Front Line: The Fourth Estate in Peril.” The world faces a multitude of crises exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, and Katrina has been eloquently educating the public about the historical and political context of the war. We are equally grateful to her leadership of The Nation, the home of progressive reporting that has been indispensable to the informed public across a wide spectrum of social justice issues.

Don Shaffer Student Peacemaker Awardee
Peace Action Le Moyne

Student chapter of Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY

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Etan Thomas & Renee Montgomery

Etan Thomas

An 11-year NBA basketball star, author, poet, organizer, commentator, radio host, and motivational speaker, Etan Thomas has deep ties to New York State: he was born in Harlem and played on the Syracuse University team. In 2003, Etan was the first American professional athlete to publicly oppose President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Throughout his career, he has been outspoken and a leader in creating space for other athletes to speak out. Etan interviewed more than 50 athletes, sports executives, media professionals, and family members of police brutality victims for his 2018 book, We Matter: Athletes and Activism.

Rene Montgomery

Renee Montgomery, WNBA All-Star, graduated from UConn as a two-time All-American. Drafted 4th in the WNBA, Renee was named All-Star and “6th Woman of the Year” in her 11-year professional career. Renee sat out the 2020 season with the Atlanta Dream to focus on social reform and justice. Renee and the Atlanta Dream were instrumental in getting out the vote in the 2020 Georgia elections. She retired in 2021, and Renee now serves as a Sports Analyst for NBA/ESPN and hosts her own weekly podcast, Remotely Renee. She is currently part Owner and V.P. of the WNBA Atlanta Dream. Renee continues her dedication to social justice and to expand access to voting for all.

Don Shaffer Student Peacemaker Awardee
Macaulay Peace Action

Student chapter of Macaulay Honors College at CUNY


Desmond Meade

Desmond Meade is a voting rights activist, President and Executive Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, and Chair of Floridians for a Fair Democracy. In 2018, Meade led the successful effort to pass Florida Amendment 4, a state initiative that restored voting rights to over 1.4 million Floridians with previous felony convictions. Its passage enfranchised the most people at once in any single initiative since women’s suffrage, and brought an end to 150 years of a Jim Crow-era law in Florida.

Meade survived a tough childhood and homelessness only to find himself with a felony conviction. Finding the strength to pull his life together, he graduated summa cum laude from college, graduated from the Florida International University College of Law, and married. But because of his conviction, he was not even allowed to sit for the bar exam in Florida. And when his wife ran for state office, he was filled with pride – but not permitted to vote for her.

“You may think the right to vote is a small matter, and if you do, I would bet you have never had it taken away from you,” writes Meade in his new memoir, Let My People Vote. Meade’s unshakeable belief that returning citizens should have the right to participate fully in our democracy motivated his incredible effort. Desmond and his team wore out several sets of tires to gather 799,000 signatures, ultimately succeeding in passing the most important voting initiative of our time.

Meade’s tireless pursuit of a fully enfranchised nation serves as proof that one person really can make a difference. Recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2019, Desmond has testified before Congressional members and the United Nations, and orchestrated an historic meeting at the White House between returning citizens and the Obama administration. His book, Let My People Vote, was released by Beacon Press on October 6th, 2020.

Don Shaffer Student Peacemaker Awardee
Just Peace Manhattan College

Student chapter of Manhattan College

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Don Shaffer Student Peacemaker Awardee
Canisius Peace Action

Student chapter of Canisius College in Buffalo, NY


Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His first book, 1989’s The End of Nature, is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change and has appeared in 24 languages. McKibben has gone on to author at least 17 more books, including 2019’s Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? He is a founder of, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized 20,000 rallies around the world, spearheaded resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fossil fuel divestment movement.   

McKibben holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. He is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize. In 2014, biologists honored him by naming a new species of woodland gnat — megophthalmidia mckibbeni — in his honor. A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently for a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone.


U.S. Labor Against the War

There is a long legacy of labor organizers who have made the connection between “Unions, Yes!” and “War, No!” During President Carter’s term in the late 1970’s, Machinists Union President William Winpinsinger helped build a labor/peace alliance with SANE (the forerunner of Peace Action) by calling for reduced military spending and economic conversion. Major unions backed the Nuclear Freeze campaign in the 1980’s. We have had and continue to have extraordinary labor leaders who have continued that tradition. To name just a few: Bob King, former President of the UAW, Fred Mason, former President of Maryland and DC AFL-CIO, Dolores Huerta of the United Farm Workers, Larry Cohen, former President of CWA, RoseAnn DeMoro, National Nurses United.  

We saw this with the work of U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW) which was formed as the drumbeat to attack Iraq grew insistent and finally unstoppable in late 2002. USLAW drew significant support from national unions, as well as regional and local groups. As a result of the efforts of USLAW, a space was made for workers to oppose the Middle East wars. At the 2018 William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Peacemaker Awards, we raised up the priceless work of the USLAW activists over the previous several years and shone a light on the new work of their national coordinator, Reece Chenault.

Don Shaffer Student Peacemaker Awardee
Peace Action SUNY Geneseo

Student chapter of SUNY Geneseo



LaDonna Brave Bull Allard

LaDonna Brave Bull Allard was a Lakota historian and activist. In April 2016, she founded Sacred Stones, a resistance camp of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, aimed at halting the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota.

While there were multiple water protector camps at the Standing Rock, Sacred Stone, the first camp, was on LaDonna’s private property. Out of this grew the global Dakota Access Pipeline protests. By December 2016, more than 10,000 indigenous people and environmental activists were camping in the area. This movement became the largest intertribal alliance on the American continent in centuries, and possibly ever, with over 200 tribal nations represented. 

LaDonna was an enrolled member of, and former historical preservation officer for, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Her people are Inhunktonwan from the Jamestown Valley, Hunkpapa and Blackfoot. She was from Cannon Ball District of Standing Rock and was raised in Fort Yates, North Dakota. Her father, Frank Brave Bull, was descended from Tatanka Ohitika, a medicine man. LaDonna graduated from the University of North Dakota, majoring in History.


LaDonna passed away in April 2021. Shortly before her death, Indigenous youth traveling to a rally in Fort Berthold opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline stopped by her house to place banners and signs in her yard reading “We love you LaDonna” and “Water is Life,” according to Kandi Mossett White, a member of the leadership team with the Indigenous Environmental Network, who spoke to Indian Country Today. “Her son told us that LaDonna heard us chanting and knew we were there outside her house,” said White. “Even when she was sick, she told us she’d be with us in spirit; she told us not to be sad for her but to continue the fight.”

Don Shaffer Student Peacemaker

Hofstra University
Peace Action Matters

Student chapter of Hofstra University


Judy Lerner

Longtime peace activist Judy Lerner was a founding member of Women Strike for Peace in 1961, mobilizing tens of thousands of women to get rid of nuclear testing in the atmosphere. She led a delegation to the 17th Anti-Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Conference in Hiroshima, Japan in 1971, and was very active in the anti-Vietnam War movement. She served on the Board of the Center for Constitutional Rights for over 20 years, and the National Board of Peace Action for many years. She chaired the International Committee of Peace Action at the United Nations, and also served as a director on the NGO/DPI Executive Committee at the United Nations. Judy was a special education teacher for over 30 years in Hastings-on-Hudson school district and was president of the Teacher’s Union in that district for 12 years. She worked with former Congresswoman Bella Abzug for many years and headed her office during her race for the US Senate in the 1970s. As a feminist, she was appointed by Jimmy Carter to the continuing Committee of the National Women’s Conference and participated at UN WOMEN meetings in Copenhagen, Nairobi and Beijing.

Don Shaffer Student Peacemaker Awardee
SUNY University at Albany Peace Action

Student chapter of SUNY University at Albany

Don Shaffer Student Peacemaker

Binghamton University Peace Action

Student chapter of Binghamton University


Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry

Reverend Dr. Herbert Daughtry’s long career of activism began with the civil rights struggles in the 1950s, working incollaboration with Brooklyn CORE and Operation Breadbasket, and continuing with his participation in the fight for community control of schools in the late 1960s. He subsequently helped to found several organizations, including the Black Leadership Commission on AIDS; the Alonzo Daughtry Memorial Family Life Services, which serves the community through innovative programming such as Families of Victims Against Violence; and the Alonzo Daughtry Memorial Day Care Center, which provides early childhood education under the motto, “Nurturing and Educating the Leaders of Tomorrow.” He also served as Chair of National Religious Leaders of African Ancestry Concerned about Darfur.


Rev. Dr. Daughtry has previously served as Chair of the New York Citywide African–American Clergy Council, African American Clergy and Elected Officials, and the Association of Brooklyn Clergy for Community Development, which built and renovated more than 500 units of housing for low– and middle–income families in Brooklyn. His commitment to global human rights and self–determination has led Rev. Dr. Daughtry to travel andlecture extensively around the world, and he has participated in dozens of international conferences and conventions, including speaking at United Nations subcommittee meetings regarding South African apartheid, Cuba, the Middle East, and the state of U.S. civil rights.

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