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Home > News > Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award

For Immediate Release
August 1, 2008
Contact: Don Cookson

Longtime Women’s Advocate Receives 2008
Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award

Grand Rapids, MI- Ruby Duncan, lifelong advocate for women, children, and the poor in the State of Nevada, has been selected to receive a national award named after Margaret Chase Smith, US Senator from Maine from 1949 to 1973. Ms. Duncan will be recognized for her pioneering work in the field of children’s nutrition. Her advocacy led to the establishment of the Operation Life Community Development Corporation, aimed at improving the lives of underprivileged children and their families, first in the city of Las Vegas, and later across the entire state of Nevada.  

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap explained, “The National Association of Secretaries of State’s Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award, established in 1992, honors the courage and determination of people who risk their careers by taking principled stands for unpopular positions. It’s presented to the person whose actions demonstrate the quality of public courage so essential to a democracy.” Dunlap noted “Ruby Duncan’s work forced the State of Nevada to acknowledge the plight of underfed and malnourished children who had previously been neglected.  From humble beginnings, she became the driving force behind an organization that, since its’ inception, has brought hundreds of millions of dollars and countless hours of volunteer work to bear on that problem and many others. Her Operation Life organization has expanded well beyond its’ original mission of improving nutrition to become an inspiring and effective anti-poverty collaboration. Her life’s work has benefited children not only in Nevada, but in states across the nation. She is richly deserving of this award.” Duncan’s life is now the subject of the book Storming Caesar’s Palace. She was nominated for the award by Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller.

Duncan was selected as the recipient of the Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award during the recently concluded National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) 2008 National Convention held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A complete list of MCS Award winners can be viewed here: .

The national convention also saw the installation of the newest members of the NASS Executive Board. Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap has been installed as NASS Treasurer, and will serve in that capacity through July, 2009.