Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Awards

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The Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Awards, presented each year by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, honor individuals, organizations, and corporations that have contributed to the common good through leadership and service.

In addition to recognizing the achievements of distinguished community leaders, the awards gala is the Humphrey School’s signature annual fundraiser. Proceeds from the event support scholarships for our students.

Established by the Humphrey School in 2003, the awards have recognized 76 recipients and have raised more than $1.75 million for student scholarships.

19th Public Leadership Awards

The Humphrey School held its 19th Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Awards on September 21, 2023, to recognize the contributions of the following awardees:   

Ann Bancroft, history-making explorer, educator, and philanthropist, for inspiring women and girls around the world to unleash the power of their dreams, and leading a global effort to address the urgency of clean water. Watch a video profile of Ann Bancroft

Will Steger, polar explorer and environmental ambassador, for educating and motivating generations of people to care for the earth and live their lives with a sense of exploration, curiosity, and adventure. Watch a video profile of Will Steger  

Jan Malcolm, former commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, for leading the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and demonstrating an ongoing commitment to improving the lives and well-being of all Minnesotans. Watch a video profile of Jan Malcolm

Sharon Sayles Belton, executive at Thomson Reuters, former mayor of Minneapolis, and community leader, for promoting health, social, and racial equity as a passionate advocate for the city of Minneapolis. Watch a video profile of Sharon Sayles Belton 

Project for Pride in Living, Minneapolis-based nonprofit, for providing transformative affordable housing and career readiness services to lower-income individuals and families, setting the stage for their long-term success. Watch a video profile of PPL 

Read a recap of the event See photos from the event



Best Buy and Target logos


Carlson Family Foundation
Reatha King and Friends
Thomson Reuters 
Katharine and Dan Whalen

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Past award recipients, 2022


  • Reatha Clark King, emeritus chairman of the board of the National Association of Corporate Directors and a pioneer in chemistry, higher education, business, philanthropy, and community service. Watch video tribute.
  • Acooa Ellis, (Humphrey School MPP ‘07) senior vice president of community impact at Greater Twin Cities United Way and a champion of social justice initiatives. Watch video tribute.
  • Tracey Williams-Dillard, CEO and publisher of the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, a trusted source for Minnesota’s African American community. Watch video tribute
  • Xcel Energy, a Minnesota-based company setting sustainability goals while providing power to millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states. Watch video tribute

Alumni recognition 

  • Lee Wallace (MPP ‘05) was recognized as the recipient of the University of Minnesota’s Outstanding Achievement Award, the highest award the University presents to alumni. Wallace is the owner and CEO of Peace Coffee. Watch video tribute

*Positions listed are as-of time of recognition

Past award recipients, 2011–2019


  • Johnnetta Betsch Cole, director emerita of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art, former president of Spelman College
  • Gary Eichten, editor-at-large and former program host, Minnesota Public Radio News
  • Brigadier General Sandy Best (Humphrey Policy Fellow '12), chief of staff, Minnesota Air National Guard


  • Thomas Friedman, author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, The New York Times
  • Sarah Bellamy, artistic director, Penumbra Theatre Company
  • Cheryl Reeve, head coach and general manager, Minnesota Lynx
  • Daniel Rodriguez (MPA '08), executive director, Merrick Community Services in East St. Paul


  • Linda Thomas-Greenfield, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and former director general of the Foreign Service
  • Thor Companies
  • Tom Swain, former Lilydale mayor and former University of Minnesota vice president
  • Monica Meyer (MPP '99), executive director, OutFront Minnesota


  • Lisa Jackson, Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, Apple 
  • Thomas Pickering, Former Ambassador to the United Nations 
  • Alan Page, Retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice
  • David Durenberger, Former United States Senator
  • Sia Her (MPP '07), Executive Director, Minnesota State Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans


  • Walter F. Mondale, 42nd Vice President of the United States
  • Center for Victims of Torture, international nonprofit organization
  • Imam Sharif A. Mohamed, Islamic Civic Society of America/Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque and Cofounder, Open Path Resources
  • 3M Company, corporate citizen dedicated to access to justice
  • Andrew M. Luger, United States Attorney, District of Minnesota
  • Katherine Siggerud (MA '87), Managing Director of Congressional Relations, Government Accountability Office
  • Melvin W. Carter III (MPP '11), Executive Director, Minnesota Children's Cabinet and former Saint Paul City Councilman


  • Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Former President and CEO, National Urban League
  • Howard H. Baker, Jr., Former U.S. Senator (R−TN) and U.S. Ambassador to Japan
  • General Mills
  • Chanda Smith Baker, President and CEO, Pillsbury United Communities
  • Sherri Knuth (alumni recipient), Policy and Outreach Manager, League of Women Voters Minnesota


  • Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Carlson
  • Daniel Glickman and Chris Policinski, on behalf of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition
  • The Honorable Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Former Prime Minister of Portugal
  • Trista Harris (alumni recipient), Executive Director of Headwaters Foundation for Justice


  • Alice Rivlin and Peter V. Domenici, on behalf of the Bipartisan Policy Center
  • MayKao Hang (alumni recipient), President and CEO of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation
  • Walter F. Mondale, Former Attorney General for Minnesota, U.S. Senator, Vice President of the U.S., and U.S. Ambassador to Japan
  • Kim Nelson, Senior Vice President of External Relations, General Mills, and President of the General Mills Foundation


  • Bill Richardson, Former Governor of New Mexico and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Nina Archabal, Retired Director, Minnesota Historical Society
  • Arlen Erdahl, Former Member of Congress and Associate Director of the United States Peace Corps
  • Anita Patel (alumni recipient), Vice President of Racial Justice and Public Policy, YWCA of Minneapolis
  • Roger Wilkins, Civil Rights Leader, Journalist, and Professor Emeritus of History

*Positions listed are as-of time of recognition

Past award recipients, 2003–2010


  • Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr., and Paul Kirk, Jr., Co-chairmen of the Commission on Presidential Debates during the 2008 presidential election
  • David B. Laird, Jr., Retired CEO, Minnesota Private College Council, Fund, and Research Foundation
  • John M. Harrington, Saint Paul’s 39th Chief of Police
  • Barbara Sigford, MD, Pioneer in developing protocols for the treatment of veterans with polytrauma
  • Barbara Sporlein (alumni recipient), Director of Planning, City of Minneapolis


  • Mike McCurry, Former Press Secretary to President Bill Clinton
  • Lou Bellamy, Founder and Artistic Director, Penumbra Theatre
  • James R. Campbell, Former CEO, Wells Fargo
  • Mary Lee Dayton, Community Advocate for Women and Children
  • Kiyoshi Nakasaka (alumni recipient), President and CEO, Washington CORE, LLC


  • Ward B. Chamberlin, Jr., Public Broadcasting Leader and Co-founder of AFS Intercultural Programs
  • Jane C. Freeman, Former First Lady of Minnesota
  • The Honorable Al Quie, Former Governor of Minnesota


  • John C. Danforth, Former U.S. Senator (R–MO), Ambassador to the United Nations, and Author of Faith and Politics
  • Harlan Cleveland, Former Ambassador to NATO, Former President of the University of Hawaii, and Former Dean of the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
  • Josie R. Johnson, Civil Rights Leader and Educator
  • Eugene C. Sit, Chairman, CEO, and Global Chief Investment Officer, Sit Investment Associates, and Co-founder of the Minnesotan’s Military Appreciation Fund


  • George J. Mitchell, Peace Envoy and Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader
  • Kathleen Blatz, Former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice
  • Gary L. Cunningham, Chief Executive Officer, NorthPoint Health and Wellness
  • Geri M. Joseph, Former Ambassador and Community Leader


  • Lee H. Hamilton and James R. Thompson, on behalf of the 9–11 Commission
  • Ann Ellwood, Founder and Former Executive Director, MELD
  • Nancy Eustis, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
  • David McCauley, Former Anoka County Commissioner


  • Madeleine K. Albright, Former Secretary of State of the United States
  • Marge Anderson, Chief Executive, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  • Nathan Garvis, Vice President of Government Affairs, Target Corporation
  • Judge Gerald W. Heaney, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals


  • Elmer L. Andersen, Former State Senator and Governor of Minnesota
  • Roberta Cordano, Former Assistant Attorney General for Minnesota and Former Director of Disability Services, University of Minnesota
  • Pakou Hang, Former Deputy Political Director for the Late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone
  • Walter F. Mondale, Former Attorney General for Minnesota, U.S. Senator, Vice President of the United States, and U.S. Ambassador to Japan

*Positions listed are as-of time of recognition