Bill Drayton of Ashoka Accepts Three Awards in Three Weeks from Europe, US, and Asia

November 9, 2011

Arlington, Virginia - Bill Drayton, CEO of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public has accepted three awards from around the world honoring his work on behalf of social entrepreneurship through the organization he founded, Ashoka.  At a time when the world is faced with deeply troubling challenges, these accolades celebrate the Ashoka Fellows that emerge from every corner of the earth to shine light on innovative solutions with the spirit of entrepreneurialism that is changing the world.  Drayton accepted these awards on behalf of a much larger Ashoka community of Fellows, staff, partners, and donors, each playing a critical role in building an Everyone A Changemaker™ society.

In late October, Drayton received the Prince of Asturias Prize in International Cooperation, in a lavish awards ceremony broadcast throughout Europe.  The prize is Spain's highest honor and one of Europe's most prestigious awards, often compared to the Nobel Peace Prize.  Their Royal Highnesses Prince Philip of Spain and Princess Letizia were in attendance during the ceremony, which honored Bill Drayton and the other awardees, including Canadian musician Leonard Cohen and Harvard social scientist Howard Gardner.  Recipients were awarded 50,000 euros, a specially commissioned Joan Miró sculpture, a diploma and an insignia.  Earlier this year, an international jury deliberated over the 25 finalists from 18 different countries who were under consideration for this award.  Video highlights of the award can be viewed here:

A week later he travelled to Chicago to receive the prestigious John W. Gardner Leadership Award. The Award was established in 1985 to honor outstanding Americans who exemplify the leadership and the ideals of John W. Gardner (1912-2002), American statesman and founding chair of Independent Sector. Independent Sector presents the award each year to an individual whose leadership in or with the nonprofit community has been transformative and who has mobilized and unified people, institutions, or causes that improve people’s lives. Independent Sector works with people annually across America’s nonprofit sector to identify a recipient who is a beacon of achievement. His acceptance speech can be viewed here:

Last week he was honored in Singapore by the World Entrepreneurship Forum, as this year’s winner of the Social Entrepreneur Award. Winners received their trophies, designed by the French jeweler Korloff, at a Gala Dinner graced by Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Teo Chee Hean. The World Entrepreneurship Forum is the first global think-tank dedicated to entrepreneurs, creators of wealth and social justice. Since 2008, a total of 250 members from over 70 different countries have met to tackle the world’s most pressing issues with entrepreneurial solutions.

As the founder and CEO of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, Drayton is a true social entrepreneur.  During his time as a student at Harvard, Oxford, and Yale Law School, he launched a number of organizations.  He began his career at McKinsey and Company and then served as Assistant Administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he launched emissions trading (the basis of the Kyoto Protocol) and other reforms.  In 1981, he founded Ashoka and was able to grow it with the support that he received when elected a MacArthur Fellow in 1984.  In addition to his current role as Chairman and CEO of Ashoka, Drayton is the chair of Youth Venture, Community Greens, and Get America Working! Drayton has won numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including selection as one of America’s Best Leaders by US News & World Report and Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership, the Goi Peace Foundation’s Peace Award and the Essl Social Prize, for his work creating and building the field of social entrepreneurship.  

"More than any other single individual, Bill has helped create and define the field of social entrepreneurship. In so doing he has opened to whole generations of young people a vocation that meets their laudable desire to put service above self and helping others above helping themselves."

Stephen J. Hadley, former National Security Advisor

About Ashoka

Founded in 1980, Ashoka is the world’s working community of nearly 3000 leading social entrepreneurs. It champions the most important new social change ideas and supports the entrepreneurs behind them by helping them get started, grow, succeed, and collaborate. As Ashoka expands its capability to integrate and connect entrepreneurs around the world, it builds an entrepreneurial infrastructure that is supporting the fast-growing needs of the citizen sector.  Ashoka’s vision is to create change today, for an Everyone A Changemaker™ society to become the reality of tomorrow.  For more information, visit

For more information please contact:

Tina Choi-Global Marketing and Communications (
+44 20 8816 7988

Samara Lemke-Executive Office (
+1 703-527-8300