Gleitsman International Activist Award

The Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School awards annually the Gleitsman Activist Award, created in 1993 by the late Alan Gleitsman, to honor exceptional leaders and innovators who have sparked positive social change and inspired others to do the same. Mr. Gleitsman once 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 receives a $150,000 prize and a specially commissioned sculpture designed by Maya Lin, the creator of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC and the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, AL. The awardee is honored at a ceremony and dinner on or near the Harvard University campus.

The Gleitsman International Activist Award, given biennially (alternating with the Citizen Activist Award), honors leadership in social activism that has improved the quality of life around the world. Read more about our 2020 International Activist Award-winner, the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, here. Watch Prime Minister Ardern in conversation with Amb. Wendy Sherman here.

2020: Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand
2018: Malala Yousafzai, Co-founder, Malala Fund
2015: Fartuun Adan and Ilwad Elman, Founders, Elman Peace and Human Rights Center
2013: Sasha Chanoff, Founder and Executive Director, RefugePoint
2011: Teresa Ulloa Ziáurriz, Regional Director, Coalition Against Trafficking Women
2009: Karen Tse, Founder, International Bridges to Justice 
2007: Sakena Yacoobi, Executive Director, the Afghan Institute of Learning 
2005: Han Dongfang, International Advocate of the worker's movement in China; Patrick Alley, Charmain Gooch, and Simon Taylor, Founders, Global Witness 
2003: Fazle Abed, Jaya Arunachalam, Roman Imboden, and Roy Prosterman, Leaders in the Struggle Against Poverty 
2001: Bernie Krisher, Creator of schools in Cambodia; Martin Macwan, Advocate of Dalits ("Untouchables") Rights 
1999: Advocates for reconciliation in the Middle east, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), Yossi Beilin, Bassem Eid, Yitzhak Frankenthal, Galia Golan, Faisel Husseini, Terje Rod Larsen and Mona Juul, Ahmed Qurie (Abu Ala), Uri Savir and Stanley Sheinbaum, posthumous awards in memory of Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin, and King Hussein 
1997: Maria Adela Antokoletz, Argentinean founder of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo; Muhammad Yunus, Founder, Grameen Bank
1995: Jose Ramos-Horta, East Timor independence advocate; Beate & Serge Kiarsfeld, Prominent Nazi hunters 
1993: Nelson Mandela, President, African National Congress; Wei Jingsheng, Advocate of democracy in China