How America's Best Leaders of 2009 Were Picked

The project is a collaboration between U.S. News and the Harvard Center for Public Leadership.

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

The committee is supported by a 15-member research team, which consists of three Harvard graduate students, five students from Marietta College, and seven students from the University of Oklahoma Honors College Leadership Center.

The panel accepted nominations from a wide range of sources, and the research team spent the spring semester identifying and researching the potential honorees in a variety of sectors, from philanthropy to government to the arts. As a product of this process, approximately 100 names and written profiles were presented to the Selection Committee a few weeks before the formal selection meeting in May.

The committee defined a leader simply as a person who "motivates people to work collaboratively to accomplish great things." It selected 22 winners, including three partnerships, from the list of names. The panelists deliberated as a group and considered nominees based on how well they met the following criteria:

SETS DIRECTION (25 percent): By building a shared sense of purpose; by setting out to have a positive impact on their industry and society at large; by implementing innovative strategies and practices.

ACHIEVES RESULTS (50 percent): Of significant depth and breadth; that have a positive social impact; that are sustainable; that exceed expectations.

CULTIVATES A CULTURE OF GROWTH (25 percent): 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 but was willing to make exceptions. The panel also determined that, while a nominee's work could be global in scope, it should have substantial impact inside the United States.

Selection Committee

COCHAIRS 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

MEMBERS John Alexander Isabella Cannon distinguished visiting professor of leadership, Elon College Roger Brown President, Berklee College of Music Jim Campbell Edgar E. Robinson professor in United States history, Stanford University Connie Chow Executive director, Science Club for Girls Janet Cooper-Nelson Chaplain, Brown University Beth Dozoretz Vice chair, Center for Public Leadership advisory board Ken Duberstein Chairman and CEO, the Duberstein Group Charles Elachi Director, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory *Ken Fisher Chairman and CEO, Fisher House Foundation Walter Fluker Executive director, the Leadership Center, Morehouse College Bill George Professor of management practice, Harvard Business School Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr. United States Navy (retired) The Honorable Carlos Gutierrez Former secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce Chris Howard President, Hampden-Sydney College Rosabeth Moss Kanter Ernest L. Arbuckle professor of business administration, Harvard Business School Donna Kalikow Executive director, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School Barbara Kellerman James MacGregor Burns lecturer in public leadership, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School *Alan Khazei Founder, Be the Change Inc., and cofounder, City Year Rakesh Khurana Professor, Harvard Business School Rod Kramer William R. Kimball professor of organizational behavior, Stanford University *Fred Krupp President, Environmental Defense Fund Georgette Mosbacher CEO, Borghese Dr. Nancy Oriol Dean of students, Harvard Medical School Gama Perruci Dean, Marietta College McDonough Center for Leadership and Business Ann Reale Former commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care Paul Saffo Technology forecaster David Shaw Managing partner, Black Point Group *Bill Shore Founder, Share Our Strength Tom Tierney Founder and chairman, the Bridgespan Group Roselinde Torres Partner and managing director, the Boston Consulting Group Michael Useem Director, Center for Leadership and Change Management, the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania Jeff Walker Chairman, Millennium Promise Linda Whitlock Former Nichols president and CEO, Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston Andy Zelleke Codirector, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School