John W. Gardner Leadership Award

Meet Our 2021 John W. Gardner Leadership Award Recipients – Dr. Gail C. Christopher and Professor john a. powell

During this difficult time when we’ve all had to double down to meet the extraordinary challenges posed by the pandemic and racial unrest, Independent Sector is doubly proud to announce the two exceptional recipients of our 2021 John W. Gardner Leadership Award – Dr. Gail C. Christopher and Professor john a. powell.

You can get to know Dr. Christopher and Professor powell better when they formally accept the Gardner Award during the Upswell Summit, October 20-22. Powered by Independent Sector, the Upswell Summit is an annual gathering of changemakers collectively pursuing a healthier and more equitable society where all people can thrive.

2021 Recipients

Dr. Gail C. Christopher

Dr. Christopher is an award-winning social change agent with expertise in the social determinants of health and well-being and in related public policies. She is known for her pioneering work to infuse holistic health and diversity concepts into public sector programs and policy discourse. In her role as the Senior Advisor and Vice President at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), she was the driving force behind the America Healing initiative and the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation effort. In 2015, she received the Terrance Keenan Award from Grantmakers in Health. She chairs the Board of the Trust for America’s Health. Dr. Christopher is also a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and Senior Scholar, George Mason University, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being.

Prof. john a. powell

Professor powell has written extensively on a number of issues including structural racism, racial justice, concentrated poverty, opportunity-based housing, voting rights, affirmative action in the United States, South Africa and Brazil, racial and ethnic identity, spirituality and social justice, and the needs of citizens in a democratic society. He is the author of several books, including his most recent work, Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society. Professor powell also founded and directed the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota.

About the Award

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. Independent Sector presents the award each year to an individual whose leadership in or with the nonprofit community has been transformative and who has mobilized and unified people, institutions, or causes that improve the quality of life on our planet.

Previous Recipients

2020
Fatima Goss Graves
National Women’s Law Center

2019
Sherry Salway Black
(Oglala Lakota)
First People’s Fund

2018
Angela Glover Blackwell
PolicyLink

2017
Rosanne Haggerty
Community Solutions

2016
Bryan Stevenson
Equal Justice Initiative

2015
Michael Brown
City Year

2014
Alberto Ibargüen
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

2013
Constance Rice
Advancement Project

2012
Jeff Skoll
Skoll Foundation

2011
Bill Drayton
Ashoka

2010
General Colin Powell
America’s Promise Alliance

2010
Alma Powell
America’s Promise Alliance

2009
Geoffrey Canada
Harlem Children’s Zone

2008
Robert Greenstein
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

2007
Susan V. Berresford
The Ford Foundation

2006
Johnnetta B. Cole
Bennett College for Women, Smithsonian Museum of African Art

2005
Ronald Grzywinski
Shorebank Corporation

2004
Raul Yzaguirre
National Council of La Raza
(now UnidosUS)

2003
Robert L. Payton
Center on Philanthropy, Indiana University

2002
Harris Wofford
America’s Promise

2001
Rebecca L. Adamson
First Nations Development Institute

2000
Dorothy Stoneman
YouthBuild U.S.A.

1999
Lois Gibbs
Center for Health, Environment and Justice