Bill Drayton is a social entrepreneur with a long record of founding organizations and public service. As a student, he founded organizations ranging from Yale Legislative Services to Harvard’s Ashoka Table, an inter-disciplinary weekly forum in the social sciences. After graduation from Harvard, he received an M.A. from Balliol College in Oxford University. In 1970, he graduated from Yale Law School. After working at McKinsey & Company, he taught at Stanford Law School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. From 1977 to 1981, while serving the Carter Administration as Assistant Administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, he launched emissions trading (the basis of Kyoto) among other reforms. He launched Ashoka in 1981. He used the stipend received when elected a MacArthur Fellow in 1984 to devote himself fully to Ashoka. Bill is Ashoka’s Chair and Chief Executive Officer. He is also chair of three other organizations; Youth Venture, Community Greens, and Get America Working! Bill has won numerous awards and honors throughout his career. In 2005, he was selected one of America’s Best Leaders by US News & World Report and Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. Other awards include the Yale Law School’s highest alumni honor, the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Achievement Award International; and the National Academy of Public Administration National Public Service Award. As one of three members of the Leadership Team, his special responsibilities are leadership of the new group entrepreneurship and social financial services programs as well as staff search and marketing functions.
Remembering Wimar Witoelar
Wimar Witoelar was one of the most amazing people I have known.
As a student, he helped lead the nonparty student movement that played a significant role in ending the Sukarno era. Refusing to join the New Order, he did many other things including designing the Jakarta Stock Exchange and being Ashoka’s first Representative in Indonesia.
In the late 1990s, he was a central figure in bringing down Suharto, including through a television interview program. When Abdurrahman Wahid (one of Ashoka’s earliest Nominators and later the head of the national organization of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU)) became Indonesia’s first democratically elected President, Wimar served as his spokesperson. In recent years, he organized groups across Indonesia to study fundamentalism -- with the belief that Indonesia’s “silent majority” will get its voice as its members understand the facts more and feel the power of numbers.
When Wimar and I were sharing dinner a few years ago, he suddenly sat up in his chair and said: “Ashoka has what we need.”
He explained that he and his colleagues couldn’t compete with the attraction of fundamentalism only with criticisms. “Everyone a changemaker” provides the needed positive alternative challenge: In speaking to young people, it, in effect, says “Be powerful now for the good, which will set you up to be powerful for the good for life. And, in doing so, you will be a pioneer in helping bring a far better, far more equal world to Indonesia.”
Wimar was a giant bringing democracy to Indonesia -- and a great friend to Ashoka and to social entrepreneurship.