John W. Gardner Leadership Award
John W. Gardner

The John W. Gardner Leadership Award was established in 1985 to honor outstanding Americans who exemplify the leadership and the ideals of John W. Gardner (1912-2002), American statesman and founding chair of Independent Sector.

The John W. Gardner Leadership Award recognizes living Americans who through their body of work have made significant contributions to the nonprofit and philanthropic community, whose leadership has been transformative, who have mobilized and unified people, institutions or causes, and whose efforts have improved the community of life on our planet. The award honors visionaries who have empowered constituencies, strengthened participation, and inspired movements.

Award recipients are builders -- people who, quite apart from personal achievements, have raised the capacity of others to advance the common good. Their leadership has either had national or international impact or, if at the regional level, has attracted wide recognition and imitation.

Whatever means they use, their work has transformed their chosen field, has served as a role model to other fields, and has had a significant impact on advancing not only their own institutional interests, but also the broader interests of the charitable community.  Two or more individuals, whose combined leadership demonstrates a strong and successful collaboration resulting in the breadth of impact and advancement of the common good contemplated by the Award, are eligible to be nominated and honored jointly.

Committee Now Considering 2015 Gardner Award Nominees

The nomination deadline for the 2015 John W. Gardner Leadership Award has passed. Thank you for your nominations and your interest.

2014 John W. Gardner Leadership Luncheon

On November 18, 2014, in Seattle, Independent Sector presented the 2014 John W. Gardner Leadership Award to this year's recipient, Alberto Ibargüen. Read more about Alberto's transformative leadership and watch his speech below.

2014 Gardner Award recipient Alberto Ibargüen's acceptance speech on the importance of information equality:

About the Life of John W. Gardner

John W. Gardner was the ultimate builder of ideas and unifier of people and causes. He was an active and distinguished participant in America's educational, philanthropic, and political life.
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About the Nomination Process

Learn more about the John W. Gardner Award and the Nomination Criteria. Click here to find out more about the Nomination Process

2014 Recipient: Alberto Ibargüen

Alberto Ibargüen

Alberto Ibargüen, our 2014 Gardner Award Recipient, is president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. We honored Alberto for his transformative leadership in the fields of journalism, the arts, and community engagement.

Read more about Alberto and learn about his work in building grass-roots community engagement through information and shared cultural experiences. Then see details of our 2014 John W. Gardner Leadership Luncheon, and learn more about our 2014 National Conference.

Past Recipients

Past recipients of the John W. Gardner Leadership Award include Jeff Skoll, Bill Drayton, General Colin and Alma Powell, and Geoffrey Canada. See them all.

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