2011 National Leadership IndexCambridge, MA—With the election fast approaching, Americans reported an overall increase in confidence in their leaders for only the second time since 2005. But the news is not altogether encouraging, because 69% of Americans also think we currently have a leadership crisis. At the same time, however, two-thirds of Americans believe the best way to help make leadership more effective is by voting.

These are among the key findings of a nationwide poll, the National Leadership Index (NLI), released today by the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School and Merriman River Group. The survey is the eighth annual measurement of public attitudes toward the leadership of 13 different sectors in America, ranging from business and nonprofits to politics and religion.

"Anytime you see an increase in confidence in our leaders, it is encouraging," said Seth Rosenthal, the survey's lead author. "At the same time, a vast majority of Americans believe we have a crisis in leadership and that we will decline as a nation unless we do something about it. Fortunately, with the election just days away, Americans see voting as the best means of addressing this crisis, and nearly nine out of ten feel a personal responsibility to participate in making America's leadership more effective."

For the second consecutive year, only two sectors measured in this year's report—military and medical leadership—received above-average confidence scores. Ratings for the remaining eleven sectors fell into or remained in the below-average range. Congress replaced Wall Street as the sector having the least confidence—a distinction Wall Street had held since 2008. Confidence in the leadership of both sectors remained barely above the "none at all" distinction.

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Healthcare advocate for low-income patients to be honored at Nov. 13 ceremony

Cambridge, MA—The Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) has named social entrepreneur Rebecca Onie this year’s recipient of the Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award for her work as CEO of Health Leads, a nonprofit that works to create a healthcare system that addresses all patients’ basic resource needs as a standard part of quality care. The award and $125,000 prize, bestowed biennially to leaders “who have struggled to correct social injustice in the United States,” will be presented to Onie at a ceremony in Cambridge on November 13th.

A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, as well as a 2009 MacArthur Fellow, Onie cofounded Health Leads in 1996 with Dr. Barry Zuckerman in response to doctors’ concerns that the treatments and medications they were prescribing for the poorest of their patients were having little benefit because the patients lacked basic resources such as adequate food and proper heating. Last year Health Leads trained nearly 1,000 college student advocates who “filled” doctors’ prescriptions for these resources. Working in clinics and community health centers in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, New York City, Providence, and Washington, D.C., the volunteers helped nearly 8,000 low-income patients and their families receive this vital assistance. Moreover, 90% of the volunteers who were graduating seniors entered graduate programs or jobs related to healthcare and/or poverty reduction.

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CAMBRIDGE—A unique laboratory study shows that leaders with more leadership responsibility in fact experience lower stress levels (as measured by stress hormone (i.e., cortisol) levels) than peers who have less responsibility.

The results of the study will appear in this week's Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research team, led by Jennifer Lerner, professor of public policy and management at Harvard Kennedy School, engaged senior leaders from the public and private sectors who volunteered to serve as participants in a wide-ranging investigation on leadership and stress—a first of its kind. The leaders included military officers, government officials, nonprofit administrators, and business leaders from the United States and around the world.

[The study's full text and supporting data are available for free download.]

"There is a strong theme in the literature on leadership that the higher people rise in leadership positions, the more stress they have to manage," Lerner observes. "But when we studied people who actually hold positions of leadership, we found that they tended to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to non-leaders."

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Cambridge, MA—Leslie and Abigail Wexner, founding and sustaining donors of the Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard's Kennedy School, announced today an additional gift of $3 million to the Center. Their gift, an extension of the couple's longtime commitment to inspiring, preparing, and connecting tomorrow's global leaders, brings the Wexners' total commitment to the Center and HKS to more than $42 million.

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70% of this year’s participants are the first in their families to attend college

Cambridge, MA—The Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) announced today that the third installment of its Latino Leadership Initiative (LLI) will comprise the most diverse group of students to date, more than 70% of whom are the first in their families to attend college. The number of participants in the initiative, the number of participating universities, and the number of financial sponsors have also grown.

Launched in 2010, LLI is a weeklong program that prepares rising college seniors for the opportunities and challenges they will face in the coming decades. On June 23, Harvard will welcome to campus 41 students who were chosen from a highly selective application process. The participating schools are Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles); University of California, Merced; Texas A&M International University; the University of Houston; the University of Massachusetts–Boston; the University of Texas–Pan American; Miami Dade College; and, for the first time, the City University of New York's Macaulay Honors College.

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