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 were 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.
The 2023 award trophies will be handed out at the annual Celebration of Success Awards Dinner at this year’s SPN Annual Meeting in Chicago.
2023 Finalists Announced
The Finalists for the 2023 Bob Williams Awards are here! Out of a plethora of high quality success stories we saw this year, we have narrowed each category down to three wins each. The winners were voted on by SPN Annual Meeting registrants.
2023 Finalist Selection Process
Finalists were selected by an internal committee composed of SPN staff, with a wide range of backgrounds and fields of expertise. Committee members were selected based on their understanding of the policy landscape, the operations of state think tanks, and their relative expertise in the discipline area. The committee was assembled and led by SPN’s Manager of Strategy Development Gabriel Green, with final approval of the finalists coming from SPN’s Vice President of Programs Todd Davidson.
All nominations were appraised according to this scoring guide. Please direct any questions to Gabriel Green (email@example.com).
2023 Education Wins
While some of the finalist wins included work on education, some observers may notice that several of the most prominent education wins achieved by our Network aren’t included with the 2023 Bob Williams finalists. We at SPN recognize the tremendous progress this Network made in advancing education reform this year. Because these education wins were so numerous and involved such large coalitions, they will primarily be recognized and celebrated separately from the Bob Williams Awards.
If you have any questions about these education wins, please direct them to Todd Davidson (firstname.lastname@example.org).
2023 Voting Information
Voting has closed for the 2023 Bob Williams Awards for Outstanding Policy Achievement. Winners will be announced at the annual Celebration of Success Awards Dinner at this year’s SPN Annual Meeting in Chicago.
Changes in 2023
This year, we’re adding a fifth category! The Best State Based Litigation Award will recognize litigative efforts at the state and local level, which help to advance the cause of free markets and federalism. We have added this award to recognize the crucial role of litigation in defending and advancing freedom, and to create a tool for appreciating the state and local wins that can fly under the radar of national news and dialogue. See below for more information on who is eligible or this award, and how the finalist selection committee will appraise nominations.
We are also making some slight changes to our nomination and finalist selection process, as well as strengthening our voting process based on the successes of last year. All of our changes are meant to add transparency and clarity to the process, and to ensure that the awards are an honest and fair reflection of the great work this Network is doing.
Nomination Form previews are now available before the nomination window opens, to allow more time to prepare submissions.
Finalist Selection Changes
The scoring guide used by the selection committee is also being made public this year, and is available here.
Like in 2022, voting was limited to Annual Meeting registrants. This is meant to create a more purely “peer vote” on the Bob Williams Awards. In contrast, the Communication Excellence Award voting is open to the public. Our goal is to have policy achievements voted on by people with the greatest relative knowledge on the difficulty and impact of that policy achievement.
So, be sure to register for Annual Meeting in order to cast your vote!
- Biggest Win for Freedom: Mississippi Passes Historic Tax Cut to Help Workers and Their Families
- Biggest Home State Win: Winning Game-Changing Budget Reforms in North Carolina
- Best Issue Campaign: Pennsylvania’s Lifeline Scholarship Program Gives Thousands of Children Access to a Better Education
- Most Influential Research: Georgia Center for Opportunity Highlights the Harm of COVID Restrictions
- Biggest Win for Freedom: Libertas Institute, Utah helps thousands of entrepreneurs and businesses by adopting a regulatory sandbox
- Biggest Home State Win: WILL helps students get back in the classroom after months of pandemic learning loss
- Best Issue Campaign: How Illinois Policy and coalition partners saved Illinois residents from harmful “fair tax”
- Most Influential Research: Empire Center for Public Policy sheds light on New York’s Nursing Home Catastrophe
- 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
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.
Best State Based Litigation: This new award for 2023 recognizes the organization whose efforts through the courts were instrumental for advancing or defending a significant policy reform, or for curbing the excesses of government. Submissions will be judged on impact of the win, relative difficulty of the win, and how it positions the Network and the movement for future success.
Who qualifies for the State Based Litigation Award?
- Litigation does not have to result in a court victory if it was substantial in its influence on future policy changes.
- Litigation must have taken place at the state or local level.
- Any Network Affiliate or Partner is eligible to apply.
- A “line of cases” is eligible for submission as a single project, provided the nominee can demonstrate a clear and honest link between the cases and their outcomes.
- Nominees should have a primary role in the litigation outcome, but do not have to be the primary litigator if they can show their role was decisive in the outcome. Nominees are allowed to have contracted attorneys for the case, rather than having existing attorneys on staff.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can apply for the awards?
Any affiliate state think tank can apply for any of the original four award categories. The Best State Based Litigation Award is open to national partners, provided their litigation was state or local in focus.
- Only state think tanks are eligible to receive the first four awards. National partners can only recieve the Best State Based Litigation Award.
- 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.
About Bob Williams
Bob founded the Washington Freedom Foundation and was a nationally recognized expert in the areas of fiscal and tax policies, election reform, and disaster preparedness. Bob was also the Director of State Budget Solutions, a project of the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Bob held 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.