House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill on April 4. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award at a ceremony next month, the Kennedy Library Foundation announced Sunday.

The California Democrat is being recognized for leading “with strength, integrity and grace under pressure — using her power to protect the most vulnerable of our citizens,” former ambassador Caroline Kennedy, the foundation’s honorary president, said in a statement.

“She is the most important woman in American political history and is a true Profile in Courage,” Kennedy said.

The award, created in 1989, is among the most prestigious in politics. It is meant to identify heirs to the people profiled by President John F. Kennedy in his 1957 book, “Profiles in Courage.”

Winners are chosen each year by a bipartisan committee of political, business and academic leaders. Previous recipients include New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D), the late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former presidents Barack Obama, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush.

In announcing this year’s award, the foundation cited Pelosi’s work spearheading the 2010 Affordable Care Act, Democrats’ subsequent loss of the House, and Pelosi’s “persistence and determination as she set out to rebuild the Democratic Party in the image of America” and eventually reclaim the speakership last year.

Pelosi called the award “a powerful testament to the extraordinary legacy and leadership of President Kennedy.”

“At President Kennedy’s inauguration, I was blessed to hear him speak of ‘the energy, the faith, the devotion . . . that will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world,’ ” Pelosi said in a statement. “It is inspiring that the award itself is a lantern, a manifestation of that light.”

Caroline Kennedy and Jack Schlossberg, the foundation’s president and a grandson of the late president, will present the award to Pelosi at a ceremony May 19 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.

Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.