Two Rhode Island Lawmakers Receive National Distinguished Advocacy Award for Championing Lifesaving Cancer Public Policy

Award is Highest Honor Presented by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

September 29, 2021

PROVIDENCE –  Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin and House Deputy Majority Whip Mia Ackerman each received the National Distinguished Advocacy Award this week, the most prestigious award presented by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), in recognition of their significant contributions to the fight against cancer. Both were recognized for their role as champions of legislation that provides coverage for a colonoscopy after a less invasive colorectal cancer screening.

ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, presents the annual award to select lawmakers who demonstrate outstanding leadership in the area of cancer-related public policy advocacy.

“Both Sen. Goodwin and Rep. Ackerman embody what it means to be passionate advocates for public health,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “Undoubtedly, it is thanks to their relentless pursuit and leadership that this lifesaving legislation passed in Rhode Island to help make cancer screenings more affordable and thus more accessible. Cancer patients, survivors and their families are fortunate to have such staunch advocates working on their behalf.”

Senator Goodwin and Representative Ackerman have demonstrated a longtime commitment to fighting cancer: working to pass legislation to protect minors from the cancer-causing risks of indoor tanning devices in 2018 and to remove barriers to colorectal cancer screening in 2021.

“We’re honored and privileged to have the opportunity to partner with Senate Whip Goodwin and House Deputy Whip Ackerman. Their steadfast dedication not only makes them deserving of the National Distinguished Advocacy Award, but demonstrates their resolve to reduce the impact of cancer on our state,” said Cori Chandler, Rhode Island Director of Government Relations for ACS CAN.

The award was announced on Sept. 28 as part of the annual ACS CAN Leadership Summit and Lobby Day. Nearly 700 cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones met virtually with their elected officials to urge them to support policies that increase funding for cancer research and prevention programs and address barriers that prevent diverse populations from enrolling in clinical trials.

The award will be presented at the ACS CAN 8th Annual Rhode Island Research Breakfast held on Friday, November 12th from 7:30am – 9:30am at the Providence Marriott. For more information on the event, visit



About ACS CAN at 20 

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that saves lives. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and made workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. As we mark our 20th anniversary, we’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers and save more lives from cancer. Join the fight by visiting