Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Awards

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

Established by the Humphrey School in 2003, the awards have recognized 69 recipients during annual dinner presentations that have raised more than $1.5  million for student scholarships.

2019 Public Leadership Awards

Please join us for the 17th annual Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Award banquet on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, at 5:30 p.m., at McNamara Alumni Center.


The 2019 Public Leadership Award recipients are:

JOHNNETTA BETSCH COLE, Former director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art and first African American female president of Spelman College, for her outstanding legacy as an advocate for education, equity, and justice

GARY EICHTEN, Minnesota Public Radio News editor-at-large and retired program host, for a lifetime of cultivating vital public conversations and advancing free speech

BRIGADIER GENERAL SANDY BEST (Humphrey Policy Fellow ’12), Chief of staff and first female general in the Minnesota Air National Guard, for breaking barriers and serving the state with an inclusive leadership style, and for demonstrating a deep ethic of giving back to the community

Read more about this year's awardees

Sponsorship Opportunities

Contact Gwendolyn Freed, director of development, for more information about sponsorship opportunities at or (612) 625-9588.

Past Award Recipients, 2011-2018


  • 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

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
Remarks from Tom Friedman, 2018 Public Leadership Award recipient
Humphrey at podium
I believe that each of us can make a difference. That what is wrong can be made right.
Hubert H. Humphrey