Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award

The Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School awards annually the Gleitsman Activist Award to honor exceptional leaders and innovators who have sparked positive social change and inspired others to do the same.

This important award was created in 1993 by the late Alan L. Gleitsman who described the intent of this honor to “recognize people who make a difference, tell their story, and make other people aware of what one person can do.”

The winner of the Gleitsman Activist Award will receive a $125,000 prize and a specially commissioned sculpture designed by Maya Lin, the creator of the Vietnam War Memorial. The honoree will be honored at a ceremony and dinner on or near the Harvard University campus.

Read more about our 2017 Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award Winner Rep. John Lewis.

Past winners of the Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award include:

ERIC GREITENS, Founder, The Mission Continues

MARTA ADELA ANTOKOLETZ, Founder, Madres de la Plaza de Mayo

WEI JINSHENG, human rights activist in China

DR. JACK KEVORKIAN, A pioneer for end-of-life rights

WENDY KOPP, Founder, Teach For America

NELSON MANDELA, President, African National Congress

BILL SHORE, Co-founder and CEO, Share Our Strength

GLORIA STEINEM, Citizen activist extraordinaire 

BRYAN STEVENSON, Executive Director and Founder, Equal Justice Initiative

Past Award Videos

2006 Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award

This year's honorees include Ron Grzywinski and Mary Houghton, Julie Stewart, and Gloria Steinem.

2004 Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award

This year's honorees were all associated with K-12 public education including: Chris Barbic, Yvonne Chan, Mike Feinberg & Dave Levin, Bertha Lewis, Michelle Rhee, Mark Rosenbaum, J.B. Schramm, Agnes Stevens, Margot Stern Strom, Kevin Sved, and Jonathan Williams, with remarks by CPL director David Gergen.

2002 Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award

This year's honorees were Mike Farrell and Mimi Silbert, with remarks by CPL director David Gergen.

2000 Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award

This year's honorees include Jack Kevorkian and Bryan Steveson, with speeches by Melody Youk, Terrence Youk, and CPL faculty member Ron Heifetz.

1998 Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award

This year's honorees were all involved with Campaign Against Tobacco: Alan Blum, Stanton Glantz, Al Gore, Christine Gregoire, C. Everett Koop, Janet Carol Mangini, Henry Waxman, Jeffrey Wigand, Merrill Williams, and Patricia Young. First Lady Hillary Clinton also delivered remarks.

1996 Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award

This year's honorees include Geraldine Jensen and Tanya Tull, with speeches by Joseph Nye and David Ellwood.

1994 Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award

This year's honorees include Wendy Kopp and Ralph Nader, with speeches by Sen. Robert Bryd, Dr. William Smith, and Molly Biehl.

1992 Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award

This year's honorees include Louis Clark and Ann Wilson, with speeches by Ralph Nader and Elena Boner.

1991 Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award

This year's honorees include Karen Nussbaum and Ann Wilson, with speeches by Ted Danson, Jane Fonda, and Gov. Dick Celeste.