Government at its best is about creating opportunities for all. Strong leadership means providing every citizen—everyone, in every community—with the chance to grow, prosper and thrive. It means connecting people with the resources they need to make a better life for themselves and for their families.

This year’s nine Public Officials of the Year know the value of using government to help citizens. These men and women have each dedicated their careers to ensuring that no one is forgotten or left behind. They’ve revolutionized health care, imagining it not just as a system for delivering medical procedures but as a way to truly help improve lives through healthier communities. (And they’re doing it light-years beyond federal health insurance reforms.) They’ve used sound management and cutting-edge data to make sure government programs are working for those who need them the most. They’ve pioneered innovative programs to help break the cycle of poverty. They’ve put aside party politics to enact bold new measures. And when tragedy hits, they’ve been there to connect residents with the help they needed.

Through their continued commitment to creating new opportunities and improving government, these nine officials have demonstrated the true power of public service. We’re grateful for their outstanding leadership, and we’re proud to honor their inspiring achievements.

2013 Honorees

Dr. Yes

John Kitzhaber


Oregon's third-term governor fostered a remarkable series of bipartisan achievements that Washington could only dream of. SEE PROFILE

Putting People over Politics

William Howell

Speaker of the House of Delegates

The longtime Virginia speaker has guided the legislature through a productive session, often at his own political peril. SEE PROFILE

Hire Power

Kathy Nesbitt

Executive Director, Department of Personnel and Administration

In just two years, Kathy Nesbitt has enacted and implemented major personnel reforms in Colorado that help solve problems familiar to governments across the country. SEE PROFILE

The People’s Banker

José Cisneros


Unlike most treasurers, José Cisneros has used his elected post to find creative ways to help families in San Francisco break the cycle of poverty. SEE PROFILE

Setting the Right Course

L. Brooks Patterson

County Executive

Though Detroit's financial struggles have been front and center, nearby Oakland County is thriving thanks to an idea proposed 16 years ago by L. Brooks Patterson. SEE PROFILE

A Healthful Overhaul

Karen DeSalvo

Health Commissioner

In a job she only planned to stay in a year, this doctor helped New Orleans create an entirely new system for delivering primary care. SEE PROFILE

Access for All

Anthony Brown

Lieutenant Governor

The Iraq War veteran has focused not only on addressing Maryland's inequalities in primary care but spearheaded a health policy initiative unlike anything else in the nation. SEE PROFILE

The Voice in the Storm

Emily Rahimi

Social Media Manager, Fire Department

When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, Emily Rahimi became a one-woman response team for people who needed emergency assistance and couldn’t get through to 911 dispatch. SEE PROFILE

Data Driven

Greg Fischer


Greg Fischer helped Louisville, Ky., emerge as one of the country’s “it” cities. SEE PROFILE