Bill Drayton is a social entrepreneur with a long record of founding organizations, bringing big change, and service. As a student, he founded organizations ranging from Yale Legislative Services to Harvard’s Ashoka Table, an inter-disciplinary weekly forum on how society truly works. After graduation from Harvard, he received an M.A. from Balliol College in Oxford University and his J.D. from Yale Law School. Over ten years at McKinsey & Company, he brought significant structural changes to policy and organizations. He also taught at Stanford Law School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He served in the Carter Administration White House and as Assistant Administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, where he launched emissions trading and many other lasting reforms. He launched Ashoka in 1981. He used the stipend he 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. He has honorary doctorates from Yale, NYU, and others; and he is a Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Council on Foreign Relations. 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.
Bill is an avid backpacker. He especially loves long, off trail, above the tree line immersions.
As Ashoka’s CEO, Bill brings history-based vision and a deep grasp of how things work to help Ashoka keep learning and keep changing big time so that it and its community can make the truly big contributions it can and must. He has overall management responsibility and, as one of three members of the Leadership Team, has special responsibilities for Purpose Teams (e.g. Young People, Climate), “Jujitsu” Partners and Metro Areas, Frame Change/Communications, organizational evolution, and Search/Talent.
(photo: (c) Yusuke Abe)
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.