Esther Peterson Consumer Policy Forum

This lectureship was established in 1990 to recognize and honor the outstanding, long-term contributions of Esther Peterson to consumer policy making. It honors her as a notable long-time consumer activist and early leader in the consumer movement. It is presented at the ACCI Conference annually with respect to a contemporary consumer policy issue that is identified and clarified. 

Esther Peterson Biography

Esther Peterson photo

Esther Eggertsen Peterson (December 9, 1906 – December 10, 1997) graduated in 1927 from Brigham Young University. Early in her career, she taught prep school and volunteered at the YWCA. In 1938, Peterson became a paid organizer for the American Federation of Teachers and traveled around New England. In 1944, she became the first lobbyist for the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, DC. In 1948, the State Department offered Peterson’s husband a position as a diplomat in Sweden. The family returned to Washington, DC, and in 1957 Peterson joined the Industrial Union Department of the AFL-CIO becoming its first woman lobbyist.

She served as Assistant Secretary of Labor and Director of the United States Women’s Bureau for President John F. Kennedy and Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs under Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter. She also held positions as Vice President for Consumer Affairs at Giant Food Corporation, and president of the National Consumers League. 

Learn more about Esther Peterson


Esther Peterson Consumer Policy Forum 
Award Winners by Year


Lecturer Title of Lecture
2024 David Silberman, FHN/CRL "The Researcher and the Regulator Can Be Friends: How Household Finance Research Affects Regulatory Policy Making."
2023 Jean Ann Fox "Your Car is Your Credit! Using Research to Curb Predatory Car Title Lending"
2022 Jack Gillis  
2021 John Sabelhaus, the Brookings Institution  




Michal Grinstein-Weiss
Washington University
Shanti K. Khinduka Distinguished Professor 



Travis Plunkett 
The Pew Charitable Trusts
Sr. Director, Family Economic Stability

Developing Research that is Policy Relevant: Approaches Used by the Pew Charitable Trusts



Barbara Roper
Consumer Federation of America

Do Facts Still Matter? Independent Research in the Policymaking Process 



Rhoda H. Karpatkin
President Emeritus of Consumers Union of United States, Inc.

Young Consumer Activists Today:  We Need to Hear Their Voices




Sandy Praeger
Former Kansas Insurance Commissioner



Stephen Brobeck
Consumer Federation of America

The Past and Future Evolution of Consumer Advocacy


Sharon Nelson
Consumers Union

Testing, Informing, Protecting: A Short Personal History of Consumers Union and Consumers International

2012 David Laibson
National Bureau of Economic Research
Behavioral Economics and Consumer Choice
2011 Damon Silvers
The Consumer Position in the "New" World Marketplace


Mila Kofman
Georgetown University
Nearly 47 Million Americans Without Health Coverage: Is Incremental Reform Working?


Caroline Warne
International Organization for Standardization
Why Setting Standards Is Important to Consumers and How Consumers Benefit


Connie Weaver
Purdue University


Louise Sylvan
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
A Global View of Consumer Issues: Then and Now
James N. Morgan,
University of Michigan
Why Consumers Need Economics Insights as well as Information and Protection
2001 Suzanne Morse,
Pew Partnership for Civic Change
Consumers and Communities: "Restless" for Change ad Results

2000 Jim Hightower,
Consumer Advocate
Agitating for Consumer Power
1999 Trudy Liebermann
Consumer Union

Richard I. Smith
American Assoc. of Health Plan (AAHP)

Managed Care and the Consumer Agenda

1998 Carol Tucker Foreman
Safe Food Coalition

International Food Issues: A Consumer Advocate's Perspective
1997 Wendy L. Goodwin
Council for Responsible Genetics

Perils Amidst the Promise: Consumer and the Biotechnology Revolution
1996 Colien Hefferan
Coop. State Research Education & Extension Service, USDA

Whither the Consumer Interest: The Role of Consumer Professionals in an Era of Regulatory Reform and Government Downsizing
1995 John Kenneth Galbraith
Harvard University
Esther Peterson and the Consumer Movement

1994 Mark Silbergeld
Consumer Union
International Trade: What is the Consumer Interest?
1993 Eric Flamm
Office of Biotechnology, FDA

Karen Marshall 
Agricultural Group, Monsanto, Inc

Robin Douthitt
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Biotechnology and the Consumer

1992 Grada Hellman
Regional Director, REONA, IOCU
The Global Consumer Movement

1991 Edward Kane
The Ohio State University

The Continuing Savings and Loan Insurance Mess