Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate presented a National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) Medallion Award to Ambassador Kenneth Quinn during a ceremony at the State Capitol on Monday. The award recognizes Quinn’s many years of service to Iowa and the nation, both as a U.S. State Department official and as President of the World Food Prize Foundation.
“Throughout his career, Ambassador Quinn has shown a commitment to giving back,” Secretary Pate said. “He has made the world a better place with his tireless dedication to enhancing the quality of life of others.”
The NASS Medallion Award was created to honor individuals, groups or organizations who have displayed outstanding service and dedication to furthering the NASS mission within the states. Quinn’s years of service to government and his lifelong commitment to giving make him an ideal candidate for this award.
During the 1970s, Kenneth Quinn was the first U.S. official to alert the State Department to the horrors of the Khmer Rouge and their plans for genocide in Cambodia. Later, he oversaw the Iowa SHARES program to deliver medicine, food and supplies to struggling Cambodians, and as U.S. Ambassador to that country in the 1990s, he helped bring stability, with improved agriculture and infrastructure.
Quinn helped secretly evacuate hundreds of Vietnamese nationals during the fall of Saigon in 1975. He also worked hand-in-hand with Governor Bob Ray to open Iowa’s doors to refugees from southeast Asia. Over the past 20 years, Kenneth Quinn has led the World Food Prize Foundation’s efforts to end world hunger. He retired from that position last year.
“At a time of so much political division in our country, I so appreciate having this award because whatever I have done has always been about how can we reach across differences and bring people together,” Ambassador Quinn said.
State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald and State Auditor Rob Sand joined several Iowa legislators at the ceremony honoring Ambassador Quinn.