The Bob Williams Awards for Outstanding Policy Achievement celebrate state think tanks doing exceptional work to develop and disseminate credible policy research and ideas that can help states implement free-market solutions that will have national impact. The awards are named in honor of our Network’s most iconic policy maven and a friend to many, Bob Williams, and are presented yearly at SPN’s Annual Meeting.
Best Issue Campaign
Recognizes the organization that ran the highest quality issue education campaign. Submissions will be judged based on measures of execution not necessarily if a win was ultimately achieved. Measure of execution include strategic thinking, exemplary use of outreach tactics, ability to reach target audiences, and team alignment.
Most Influential Research
Recognizes the organization whose original research achieved a high level of influence in academia, media, or policy-making arenas. Submissions should describe one piece of research which is either a single publication or a closely related series of research publications (for example, one white paper, a collection of essays on a single topic, or a book). Submissions should also include information about the impact that the research publication made and clearly communicate the measured outcomes and results.
Biggest Home State Win
Recognizes the organization that achieved a significant policy win in their home state. Your win can come from any jurisdiction in your home state, local government, executive, judicial, legislative, or etc. Submissions will be judged on the significance of the victory and how important the organization’s contribution was to the victory. Submissions for Biggest Home State Win can also be considered for Biggest Win for Freedom.
Biggest Win for Freedom
Recognizes the organization whose effort was instrumental toward securing a significant policy victory this year. Wins can be one state or a multi-state effort; offense or defense; state or national. Submissions will be judged on the significance of the victory and how important the organization’s contribution was to the victory. Submissions for Biggest Win for Freedom can also be considered for Biggest Home State Win.
- Biggest Win for Freedom: Commonwealth Foundation advances criminal justice reform in Pennsylvania
- Biggest Home State Win: The Connecticut Governor adopts Yankee Institute’s coronavirus policy recommendations
- Best Issue Campaign: Center of the American Experiment, Back 2 Work Minnesota
- Most Influential Research: Alabama Policy Institute, “Healthy Citzenry, Healthy Economy, Healthy Society”
- Biggest Win for Freedom: Libertas Institute, Passing the nation’s first digital privacy law
- Biggest Home State Win: Commonwealth Foundation, School choice expansion for 15,000 Pennsylvania students
- Best Issue Campaign: Foundation for Government Accountability, “Waivers Gone Wild” campaign curbs food stamp program abuse
- Most Influential Research: Center of the American Experiment saves Minnesotans from a costly electricity mandate
- Biggest Win for Freedom: Illinois Policy Institute and Liberty Justice Center, Restoring constitutional rights for five million government workers
- Best Issue Campaign: Beacon Center of Tennessee, Rigged: The Injustice of Corporate Welfare
- Most Influential Research: Palmetto Promise Institute, Santee Cooper’s Uncertain Future
Nomination and Selection Process
SPN state think tank members are invited to nominate their achievements in one or more categories during a two-week nomination window in early summer.
From those nominations, finalists in each category are selected by a committee of SPN staff led by SPN’s Senior Director of Strategic Development, Todd Davidson. Nominations are judged based on each category’s specific criteria. Consideration is also given to the difficulty level of each state’s policymaking environment and each success’s contribution to multi-state impact (i.e. does the project and its outcomes make future wins elsewhere more likely).
Winners are selected through a Network-wide vote where Network members and their audiences can cast votes (one per person) for the nominee they want to see win in each category. These winners are announced annually at SPN’s Annual Meeting during a Celebration of Success: Annual Awards Dinner and Presentation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can apply for the awards?
Any affiliate state think tank can apply for any of the four award categories.
- Only state think tanks are eligible to receive these awards.
- Nominations can be submitted by any staffer within a state think tank.
- SPN members are welcome to nominate each other, provided they can fully complete the nomination details.
- State think tanks can submit nominations in multiple categories. State think tanks can also submit multiple projects/wins in the same category, provided the submissions are for separate, distinct projects or successes.
What is required in order to nominate a think tank?
In preparation for your nominations, you may find it helpful to gather the following information prior to filling out each nomination form. You do not have to provide information in every category, but providing as much information as possible will improve the quality of the nomination.
- Your contact information & contact information of organization (if you’re nominating another state think tank)
- What problem or opportunity the campaign/research successfully addressed and who was helped.
- Details about specific objectives and how specific departments helped contribute to the effort.
- Links to or copies of campaign collateral – videos, ads, publications, infographics, etc.
- Information about the impact this success has had on the organization and/or the Network.
Can I nominate more than one organization?
Yes! We’re excited to see the impact so many state think tanks are having in their communities, their state, and even the nation. You are welcome to nominate every state think tank you believe should be recognized.
Although only one think tank will be selected as the winner in each category, the impressive work of every nominee will be featured on SPN.org and through other SPN channels.
Can I submit nominations in more than one category?
Please do! You are encouraged to submit nominations for different projects from one state think tank or submit nominations for multiple think tanks. If you’re unsure whether a project should be considered for “Biggest Win” or “Biggest State Impact,” feel free to indicate on your nomination form that you would like the nomination to be considered for both.
Can I nominate my own organization?
Absolutely. State think tanks are encouraged to let us (and the Network) know about your influential achievements.
Can I nominate an organization even if I don’t have all the requested information?
The more information in the nomination we have, the better. If your knowledge of a project is limited to basic facts, consider encouraging the state think tank to nominate themselves. You’ll have an opportunity to vote your support once the nominees are announced.
What types of think tank projects or successes have been finalists in the past?
Finalists have spanned a wide range of issues and outcomes. Check out these past finalists for inspiration.
About Bob Williams
Bob is the founder of the Washington Freedom Foundation and is a nationally recognized expert in the areas of fiscal and tax policies, election reform, and disaster preparedness. Bob is currently the Director of State Budget Solutions a project of the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Bob holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Penn State and was a Certified Public Accountant. In that capacity, he served as an auditor at the Pentagon and Post Office for the U.S. Government Accountability Office. He served five terms in the Washington State Legislature and was the 1988 Republican nominee for governor of Washington State.