Cambridge, MA—The Center for Public Leadership (CPL) and Washington Post Live honored their first selection of Top American Leaders at a sold-out forum yesterday in Washington, D.C. The group was chosen by a committee of esteemed leadership experts and practitioners, convened by CPL, representing government, business, academic, and nonprofit institutions.

This year’s honorees include:

  • Sheila Bair, Senior Advisor, Pew Charitable Trust; former Chairwoman, FDIC
  • Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey
  • Jared Cohen, Director of Google Ideas
  • Freeman Hrabowski, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Michael Kaiser, President, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  • Nicholas Kristof, Columnist, the New York Times
  • Ahmed Zewail, Nobel Prize-winning Professor of Chemistry and Physics, California Institute of Technology.

The selection committee, which was cochaired by CPL director David Gergen and leadership scholar Warren Bennis, sought to identify individuals who "motivate people to work collaboratively to accomplish great things." After first determining that the individual—or individuals—met the standards of timeliness (the nominee’s primary achievements took place in the last 18 months) and locale (the primary context in which the nominee’s leadership took place was U.S.–based or American), the committee emphasized three key criteria in its deliberations: setting direction, achieving results, and cultivating a culture of growth.

Thirteen individuals were selected using this process, with the six who were able to attend the event at Ford’s Theatre being honored. The editors of the Washington Post’s On Leadership section chose Sheila Bair as an additional honoree.

Top American Leaders continues a CPL tradition that began in 2005 with U.S. News & World Report and was known as America’s Best Leaders. The Washington Post and its On Leadership website have now taken the editorial reins of this program, while maintaining CPL’s selection process and committee.

Selection committee members included:

  • Warren Bennis (cochair), Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, University of Southern California
  • David Gergen (cochair), Director, CPL, Harvard Kennedy School
  • John Alexander, Isabella Cannon Distinguished Visiting Professor of Leadership, Elon College
  • Jim Campbell, Edgar E. Robinson Professor in United States History, Stanford University
  • Janet Cooper-Nelson, University Chaplain, Brown University
  • Sky Dayton, Founder, Earthlink, Boingo, and eCompanies
  • Charles Elachi, Director, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Ken Fisher, Chairman and CEO, Fisher House Foundation
  • Bill George, Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School
  • Chris Howard, President, Hampden-Sydney College
  • Donna Kalikow, Executive Director, CPL, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
  • Cathy Lasry, Member, Board of Trustees, Clark University; Founding Board Member, Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee
  • Georgette Mosbacher, CEO, Borghese
  • Nancy Oriol, Dean of Students, Harvard Medical School
  • Gama Perruci, Dean, Marietta College McDonough Center for Leadership and Business
  • David Shaw, Managing Partner, Black Point Group
  • Bill Shore, Founder, Share Our Strength
  • Roselinde Torres, Partner and Managing Director, Boston Consulting Group
  • Michael Useem, Director, Center for Leadership and Change Management, the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
  • Linda Whitlock, Director, The Princeton Review
  • Andy Zelleke, Senior Lecturer, Harvard Business School.

To watch videos from the event, go to: