A Utah woman who served as an adviser to three Democratic presidents for issues in labor, women's affairs and consumer interests was given the Distinguished Public Service Award from the Washington-based BYU Management Society this weekend.
Esther Peterson, a BYU graduate and Provo native, was given the award for her work on behalf of the "left-out people of the world.""Esther Peterson has been a role model for all of us . . . She has reached out with a passion to provide compassionate and effective service to humankind," said Beverly Campbell, vice president of the management society.
She said Peterson's work earned her the nickname of "nanny to the world."
President John F. Kennedy appointed Peterson as director of the women's bureau in the Labor Department and vice chair of the Commission on the Status of Women.
President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed her as special assistant on consumer affairs and chair of the President's Committee on Consumer Interests.
President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the Cabinet-level post of chair of the Consumer Affairs Council.
Since 1984, she has been representative to the United Nations for the International Organization of Consumer Unions.
As a traveling volunteer, she has set up consumer programs throughout Asia, South America, Europe and Africa. She is a winner of the presidential Medal of Freedom.
Peterson said, "Good can come and joy can come and benefits can come from public service."
She said, "In my youth and childhood the lesson was a simple and a good one: Have I done any good in the world today? I feel like singing it almost. . . . The gifts we are given are only to share with others."