President John F. Kennedy's daughter Caroline presented the California Democrat with the award after a short speech, in which she said Pelosi is "consistently acting in service of our highest principles and our most vulnerable citizens."
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum hosted the event.
Pelosi's efforts to spearhead the Affordable Care Act showed she could put "national interest above her party's interest to expand access to health care for all Americans and then, against a wave of political attacks, leading the effort to retake the majority and elect the most diverse Congress in our nation's history," the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum said in a statement.
"I'm totally at a loss for words. I'm speechless. I'm overwhelmed by the honor of it all," Pelosi said.
"Courage is in the DNA of America. Courage, and the optimism & hope that go with it, which are shaping spirits of the American experience," she added in a tweet.
Another tweet referenced one of Kennedy's famous lines.
"In my public life, I have seen leaders who understood that their duty was not to do what was easy, but what was right -- especially when my colleagues had the courage to support the Affordable Care Act," she tweeted.