Pat Tillman Foundation to Honor Bryan Stevenson, Tillman Scholar Bridgette Bell at Tillman Honors 2022

Press Releases, Blog | 10/20/2022

The Pat Tillman Foundation (PTF) will honor Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), and 2017 Tillman Scholar Bridgette Bell for their tireless efforts in advocating for a more equitable world at Tillman Honors in Chicago on Thursday, Nov. 3. 

Tillman Honors celebrates Pat Tillman’s legacy by honoring those who exemplify his fortitude and spirit of service, carrying that legacy forward through their civic contributions, spirit of service, and commitment to our values of service, scholarship, humble leadership, and impact. It also showcases the global impact of Tillman Scholars as the next generation of leaders committed to service beyond self.

This year’s event brings together hundreds of Tillman Scholars and supporters from around the country to present the 2022 Champion Award to Stevenson for his work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. In addition to leading EJI, a human rights organization based in Montgomery, Alabama, Stevenson also led the creation of the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which chronicle the legacy of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation, and the connection to mass incarceration and contemporary issues of racial bias.

“Tillman Honors is a celebration of the values that drove Pat, that we should use our time and talents for the greatest problems of our time in service to others. Bryan Stevenson exemplifies this so completely,” said Dan Futrell, CEO and 2011 Tillman Scholar. “Through his work fighting for the wrongfully convicted, the poor, and the abused, he saw significant imbalances along racial and economic lines – and he’s devoted himself to leadership through action, advocating for the disadvantaged and encouraging all Americans to examine the legacy of slavery and how it continues to reverberate in our justice system today.

The foundation will also honor Bridgette Bell with its 2022 Make Your Mark Award for her ongoing commitment to improving mental health outcomes for vulnerable and marginalized populations, particularly her fellow veterans and service members. As an advocate for better mental health support — including shifting suicide prevention efforts to what she calls “life preservation,” cofounding Do More Together, West Point’s alumni association for Black graduates, serving on the Department of Defense’s Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault, and her dissertation research to improve therapists’ cultural understanding to help diverse patients process grief — Bell centers empathy and understanding as she challenges unacceptable outcomes and aims to, in her own words, “bring more light into the world.” 

“In her nearly two decades of experience in the U.S. Army, Bridgette guided so many of her soldiers through processing trauma and pushed for better strategies and approaches to heal those who suffered from sexual assault and mental health struggles,” said Marie Tillman Shenton, board chair and co-founder. “Every day, Bridgette makes her mark and carries on Pat’s legacy by advocating for resilience, support, and ultimately acceptance for everyone, no matter their background or challenges. It’s our honor to celebrate her with this award.” 

Tillman Honors is presented by TEKsystems.  Additional investors include Core Spaces, Diageo North America, DraftKings, Janet and Craig Duchossois, Harrison Street, Howmet Aerospace Foundation, J.S. Frank Foundation, King & Spaulding, Lettuce Entertain You, Martis Capital, MongoDB, NeuroFlow, Polen Capital, Press Ganey, Relish Works, Shore Capital Partners, Svoboda Capital, The Cynthia Elkins Foundation, TIBCO, TowerBrook Capital Partners, TRIMEDX, Uber, Valor Equity Partners. To register or become a sponsor, please contact Mercedes Rohlfs at [email protected]

If you are a member of the media who wishes to arrange an interview regarding Tillman Honors, please contact Stephanie Kuenn at (773) 495-8278 or [email protected]

About Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. He has argued and won multiple cases at the United States Supreme Court, and he and his staff have won reversals, relief, or release from prison for over 135 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row and won relief for hundreds of others wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced. He also led the creation of the Legacy museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and is the author of the bestselling memoir, Just Mercy.

About Bridgette Bell 

Bridgette Bell is a fourth generation soldier who incorporates military service into every aspect of her life. While in command, Bridgette spent 22 months analyzing and implementing suicide prevention strategies within her unit. She completed her master’s thesis on the Army Suicide Prevention Program and is a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Jackson State University specializing in culture, trauma, and grief. She continues to invest herself in bettering the lives of others as the co-founder of Do More Together—the West Point Black & African American Alumni Organization, The ROCKS Inc., Strong Gray Line, Headstrong, and through her avid commitment to volunteering. Bridgette’s steadfast commitment to serving the Tillman Scholar community is founded in the idea of “What can I do?” Her efforts have culminated in strides made for veterans seeking access to mental health resources. Most recently, she was appointed to the Department of Defense’s Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military.