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45th anniversary fundraiser (2016)

On Oct. 18, 2016, Consumer Action marked its 45th anniversary to the theme “Celebrating Consumer Champions” at a cocktail hour and awards reception at Verizon’s headquarters in downtown Washington, DC. The event brought much-deserved attention to the efforts of several dedicated and committed advocates who, through their leadership, have forged significant improvement for millions of consumers by enforcing laws, informing people of changes in the marketplace and fighting for improved consumer protections.

Consumer Excellence awardees included Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray, who has led the Bureau’s educational, supervisory and enforcement efforts since 2012; Kenneth Harney, author of “The Nation’s Housing” column, syndicated by The Washington Post Writers Group and focused on issues of importance to struggling renters and homeowners across the U.S.; and the National Fair Housing Alliance—the only national organization dedicated solely to ending housing discrimination.


Ken McEldowney (left) and Ruth Susswein with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, who received a 2017 Consumer Excellence Award.

After the cocktail hour, during which more than 75 attendees from various consumer advocacy, civil rights and other social justice groups enjoyed the opportunity to network and unwind, award honorees were announced one by one and given a chance to speak about their work, to the applause of those in attendance.

Consumer Action Deputy Director of National Priorities Ruth Susswein gave a particularly stirring speech before introducing CFPB Director Cordray, whose tireless efforts to make sure that banks, lenders and other financial companies treat consumers fairly through federal regulation and enforcement earned him Consumer Action’s award.

Susswein commended the CFPB, which has returned approximately $12 billion in financial relief to some 27 million wronged consumers, for its “open door policy” under Cordray and its commitment “to really listen to all parties’ perspectives on the best way forward to improve a financial practice for consumers.” She went on to acknowledge the “meaningful change” Cordray was making “in debt collection, prepaid card and payday loan markets, in mandatory arbitration and class actions, in student lending, credit reporting, language access to financial services, fair lending in financial transactions and much, much more.”

“When President Obama nominated Richard Cordray some five years ago,” Susswein continued, “he pointed out that American consumers and their families didn’t have a team of lawyers or lobbyists looking out for their interests, but they ought to be free to make informed financial decisions without fear of mistreatment or abuse regardless. Well, it’s safe to say that, despite the ongoing challenges from some detractors in Congress and in the courts, Director Corday has achieved the president’s objectives and far more.”

Harney was presented his award by close Consumer Action ally Steven Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America.

D. Scott Chang of Relman, Dane & Colfax presented the award to the National Fair Housing Alliance. It was accepted by Cathy Cloud, chief operating officer, and Shanna L. Smith, president and CEO.

Consumer Action’s executive director, Ken McEldowney, summed up the event, declaring the anniversary to be “a huge hit and a great opportunity to catch up with staff and allies from across the country to celebrate our successes and honor each of the amazing consumer champions selected for their dedication and hard work.

 

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