How They Were Picked

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America's Best Leaders is a collaboration between U.S.News & World Report and the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. The honorees were selected by a committee of academic, government, business, and nonprofit leaders convened by the center. U.S. News did not have a vote.

The panel accepted nominations from a wide range of sources and compiled research on each one. The committee defined a leader simply as a person who "motivates people to work collaboratively to accomplish great things." It selected 18 winners, including two partnerships, from a field of more than 200. The panelists rated the nominees from to 1 to 5 based on how well they met the following criteria:

Sets Direction (25%)

• By building a shared sense of purpose

• By setting out to make a positive social impact
• By implementing innovative strategies

Achieves Results (50%)

• Of significant breadth or depth

• That have a positive social impact
• That are sustainable
• That exceed expectations

Cultivates a Culture of Growth (25%)

• By communicating and embodying positive core values

• By inspiring others to lead The panel focused on a nominee's recent accomplishments and preferred that the nominee still be doing the work for which he or she was being considered. The panel also determined that while a nominee's work could be global in scope, it should have substantial impact in the United States.

Selection Committee


Warren Bennis Distinguished professor of business administration, University of Southern California David Gergen Director, Center for Public Leadership, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University


John Alexander Visiting professor of leadership, Elon University School of Law Bruce Avolio Director, Gallup Leadership Institute, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Nancy Barry Founder, Nancy Barry Associates Donald Berwick President and CEO, Institute for Healthcare Improvement Geoffrey Canada President and CEO, Harlem Children's Zone Rev. Richard Cizik Vice president for governmental affairs, National Association of Evangelicals Kenneth Duberstein Chairman and CEO, the Duberstein Group Charles Elachi Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology Walter Fluker Coca-Cola professor of leadership studies and executive director, the Leadership Center, Morehouse College Bill George Professor of management practice, Harvard Business School Ronald Heifetz King Hussein bin Talal senior lecturer, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University Karen Holbrook Former president, Ohio State University Shirley Ann Jackson President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Donna Kalikow Executive director, Center for Public Leadership, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University Rosabeth Moss Kanter Ernest L. Arbuckle professor of business administration, Harvard Business School Barbara Kellerman James MacGregor Burns lecturer in public leadership and founding executive director, Center for Public Leadership Alan Khazei CEO, Be the Change Rakesh Khurana Associate professor of business administration, Harvard Business School Jim Yong Kim François Xavier Bagnoud professor of health and human rights, Harvard School of Public Health Roderick Kramer William R. Kimball professor of organizational behavior, Stanford University Roger Mandle President, Rhode Island School of Design Georgette Mosbacher CEO, Borghese Worldwide Larry Moses President, the Wexner Foundation Kenneth Ruscio President, Washington and Lee University Paul Saffo Roy Amara fellow, Institute for the Future Jeanne Shaheen Former governor, New Hampshire Donna Shalala President, University of Miami David Shaw Chairman and CEO, Ikaria, and managing partner, Black Point Group Gen. Eric Shinseki United States Army (Ret.) Bill Shore Founder and executive director, Share Our Strength Tom Tierney Cofounder, the Bridgespan Group Michael Useem Director, Center for Leadership and Change Management, the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania Christine Todd Whitman Former governor, New Jersey Maggie Williams Partner, Griffin Williams LLC