Eugene Abrams Award
The Eugene Abrams Citizenship Award
ACA is proud to confer its Eugene Abrams Award for 2014 on Roger D. Conklin.
Mr. Conklin has worked tirelessly for decades to bring home the message that overseas Americans are a vital asset to the United States, and an essential component in expanding United States trade and exports. As ACA Director Jackie Bugnion wrote him recently, “I must say that your constant devotion to the cause of Americans abroad – over nearly 40 years – is absolutely exceptional. Your command of the historic details and personal experience with the arbitrary changes of the law have provided all of us with a wealth of information and inspiration.”
Mr. Conklin, currently retired in Palmetto Bay, FL, spent most of his working life promoting sales of American products overseas. He lived abroad in Peru and in Brazil, and during his career he marketed U.S. exports in 98 foreign countries. When the U.S. Tax Reform Act of 1976 was passed, drastically reducing the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion and making numerous other employee perks taxable, he was managing director of a Brazilian-owned company in Rio de Janeiro selling and implementing turnkey telecommunications projects in that country, using U.S.-made telecommunications products. Faced with double taxation which totaled over 80% of his income, Mr. Conklin and his family – like thousands of other American business people abroad at the time – were forced to abandon their jobs in Brazil and return to the U.S. in order to survive. The marketing gap left by his departure was soon filled by a French company, selling French-made products to what developed into a $1 billion a year export market.
From the time of his forced return to the United States, Roger Conklin became an activist, working to educate the American government and the American public of the imperative need to have Americans abroad “in the field”, selling American products, thereby creating and maintaining jobs in the U.S.A. He has tirelessly testified before Congress (numerous times, from 1978 to 2011), written in-depth articles and participated actively in online blogs. Mr. Conklin recently wrote:
"I believe in this cause more so today than ever. The snowball effect of citizenship-based taxation continues so needlessly to not only destroy the lives of proud and loyal Americans abroad and our relations with peoples of other countries as well as handicap the American economy by creating a truly unique un-level playing field for our citizens as well as American companies in their effort to grow our economy and create jobs at home."
ACA has benefited from his input as a Director for many years. ACA Executive Director Marylouise Serrato commented, “Roger Conklin has played an enormous role in bringing interest in the cause of Americans abroad and their effect on trade to attain a truly global level of intercourse; future generations of overseas Americans will benefit from the ball he helped get rolling.”
Andrew P. (“Andy”) Sundberg was presented the Eugene Abrams Award at a dinner honoring his founding of American Citizens Abroad (ACA) 30 years earlier, in 1978. ACA was the outgrowth of an earlier organization of which Andy was also a co-founder, the American Children’s Citizens Rights League (ACCRL), which successfully pushed for legislation to facilitate the passing of American citizenship to children born abroad to American citizens.
Born in New Jersey, and a graduate of Annapolis, Andy has spent most of his life as an American living abroad: Schooled in Japan and Germany, where his father was stationed; deployed on destroyers off Vietnam, and off Cuba during the missile crisis; Rhodes Scholar at Oxford; and established in Switzerland since 1968. His entire life has reflected his ardent patriotism, his belief that overseas Americans should be active in US politics; and his fervent conviction that Americans abroad are a vital resource of the United States. In addition to addressing questions of citizenship transmission, Andy participated in the fight to obtain federal voting rights for Americans abroad (1975); founded Swiss chapters of both Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad; served as the worldwide chairman of Democrats Abroad from 1980 to 1985; and was a member of the Democratic National Committee from 1981 to 1988.
Whatever Andy Sundberg has undertaken, he has done with his trademark humor, passion and flair. From staging protests regarding citizenship rights, to testifying before congressional committees and walking the halls of congress, to running in the worldwide overseas Democratic Party primary for President of the United States in 1988. Now he works with the Council of Europe and other groups in comparing the relative position of Americans living outside the United States to citizens of other countries based outside their country of origin.
For more than 35 years, Andy Sundberg has been a key figure in advocating equitable and supportive treatment of Americans abroad by the US government, and has continued as a staunch advocate of the inalienable rights and privileges of Americans no matter where they might reside.
Dorothy van Schooneveld received the Eugene Abrams Award in recognition of long-term devoted service to American Citizens Abroad (ACA). After volunteering "a few hours a week" to process membership correspondence in 1991, she was by 1993 co-editing the hard copy News Report. The same year she conceived of, and continues to energetically direct, ACA’s innovative volunteer network of "Country Contacts", which now has participants on six continents.
In 1994 she was elected ACA's second Executive Director, following the late Gene Abrams. During her term in office, ACA entered the world of e-mail and established its impressively evolving website. In 1996, she initiated ACA's e-newsletter, the News Update, of which she remains editor-in-chief. In 1998 she was active in the campaign to get overseas Americans included in the census, testifying before a Congressional subcommittee on the subject. After stepping down from the Executive Directorship end-2000, she has remained on the Executive Committee and participated in the 2001 annual Overseas Americans Week "door-knock" in Washington..
One of those who nominated Ms. van Schooneveld for the award wrote, “It was sheer serendipity that this devoted servant of Americans abroad came on the scene when most urgently needed.” The Award certificate was presented to Ms. van Schooneveld by the wife and daughter of Eugene Abrams.
Trudy Boukas lives on Syros, Greece. Her volunteer work encompassed a formidable range of activities. In Saudi Arabia she organized volunteers in a major effort to aid in transporting five tons of warm clothing and blankets for Kurds driven into the mountains by Saddam Hussein’s forces; in Pendeli, Greece, she conceived and executed a food and blanket action for Kurdish refugees; she indefatigably volunteered on numerous projects in support of children's well-being; in the ecological field she supervised clean-ups of towns, beaches and bays under the auspices of the Global Program "Clean Up The World"; and not to be understated, worked actively with veterinarians to sterilize the-then over 350 stray cats on the island of Syros.
In the opinion of Ms. Boukas's sponsor for the award, "her public service activities have been appreciated not only here on our island, but throughout Greece and beyond. She is tireless in her efforts to improve the quality not only of human life, but all life on our planet."
Joan Hubbard, as wife of the United States Ambassador to the Philippines, distinguished herself by engaging in volunteer activities well beyond those normally expected of an ambassador’s spouse. She was honorary president, chairperson or board member of numerous charities in the Philippines. She supported the Project Smile medical mission from the United States; worked with the International Bazaar Foundation raising money to aid impoverished children; supported the American Association of the Philippines aiding local charities; and engaged in the Habitat for Humanity's “Jimmy Carter Work Project,” which aided in building 293 affordable houses.
In addition, she exhibited a personal commitment to environmental causes, and she was influential in founding the Manila office of the Asia Society, which fosters deeper understanding between Americans and citizens of Asian countries.
"I have never observed or known anyone as totally committed to her work here as Joan Hubbard," wrote Mrs. Carlos P. Romulo, in nominating her. "She simply does not refuse requests. I have marveled at her stamina and patience in meeting so many demands made upon her time. She is held in high esteem in this country."
Olive Lorsignol, a long-time resident of France, devoted more than 34 years to voluntary community service abroad with extraordinary energy and vision. In 1963 she was among the first women to join the newly established Association of American Wives of Europeans (AAWE). As a member and later chair of the AAWE Committee on Bilingualism, Ms. Lorsignol helped establish and teach classes in English reading and American history to Franco-American children in the Paris area. This led to published socio-linguistic studies on factors which determine a high level of bilingual development.
Ms. Lorsignol has worked assiduously to facilitate the often arduous access process to US colleges by students educated in European school systems, and since 1978 has pursued her voluntary educational and cultural objectives through the Women’s Institute for Continuing Education (WICE).
As the sponsors of her nomination have stated, "We in the Paris area owe much to Olive, who with her good judgment, gentle persistence, intelligence and grace, is and has been a powerful catalyst for worthwhile change. She has spent a lifetime moving mountains – project by project – for the benefit of the American community in Paris and beyond it."
Harry C. Moore, as a resident of Nassau, Bahamas since the early 1960s has worked tirelessly to raise funds to educate its brightest. As president and later chair of the charitable Lyford Cay Foundation, Mr. Moore has raised more than $9.5 million for scholarships and grants to Bahamians to further their studies abroad. At the outset, through Mr. Moore’s efforts more than 500 students have attended universities abroad.
At 83 Mr. Moore took on the greatest challenge of his life – the highly successful effort to raise $5 million in scholarship endowment fund for the College of The Bahamas.
In the opinion of the Executive Director of the Nassau Tourism and Development Board, who submitted the nomination for the award, Mr. Moore is "a man who has probably had more impact on the betterment of the Bahamas than any other American who ever lived here." In December 1996 the government of the Bahamas recognized Mr. Moore's inestimable contribution to the country, and he was made an honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (Honorary CBE).
WINNER of the first Eugene Abrams Senior Citizenship Award was Phyllis Michaux, a long-term resident of France who devoted more than 35 years to the service of Americans living abroad. In 1961 she founded the Association of American Wives of Europeans (AAWE). As its president, she spearheaded the crusade through the United States Supreme Court and Congress to ensure the US citizenship of children born abroad to Americans. Thanks to her devoted and untiring efforts in concert with AAWE and other groups of Americans abroad, including ACA, these children are now guaranteed US citizenship regardless of whether they have ever resided in the USA.
In 1973 Mrs. Michaux was an initiating member and Executive Vice President of the Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO), whose purpose is to preserve, protect and improve the rights of US citizens living in other lands. She played a leading role in obtaining passage of the Overseas Citizens Voting Rights Act on January 2, 1976. In recognition of her efforts, Mrs. Michaux was presented with the pen President Ford used to sign this historic bill.
Mrs. Michaux inspired the creation in 1991 of AAWE's Seniors Committee to explore specific needs of elderly members, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Concerns of Older Women Committee of the Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas (FAWCO). She also valiantly militated in Washington for the goal of making Medicare available to older Americans abroad.