Government works.

In the current political climate, that’s a statement that can come off as bold, or even radical or controversial. Hyperpartisanship has put a chokehold on Washington, and on some state capitols and city halls. It often seems impossible to get anything done at all.

But the best public servants know that isn’t true. They know the power of the public sector to innovate, to find a way forward, to make real improvements in the lives of all Americans.

They know that government can, in fact, get it done.

Each year, Governing honors outstanding public officials who have made an indelible impact on the lives of the people they serve. This year’s nine honorees are outstanding examples of the strong determination, the bold ideas and the incredible amount of grit it takes to get things done in government.

Government can work. And thanks to the leadership of these nine remarkable public leaders, government can work wonders.


2017 Honorees

Marybel Batjer

Secretary of Government Operations

As California's first-ever Secretary of Government Operations, Marybel Batjer is streamlining a notoriously large and inefficient bureaucracy. READ PROFILE

Phil Bertolini

Chief Information Officer

Phil Bertolini believes in sharing resources with other jurisdictions that lack access to crucial technology. READ PROFILE

Tom Dart


"If they’re going to make it so that I am going to be the largest mental health provider, we’re going to treat these people as patients.” READ PROFILE

Jim Denning & Jim Ward

Senate Majority Leader & House Minority Leader

At a time of historic national division, two state legislators helped lead a bipartisan effort to secure Kansas' fiscal future. READ PROFILE

Bertha Henry


Bertha Henry took office at the height of the Great Recession, but she’s helped make Broward County, Fla., an engine of economic growth. READ PROFILE

Terry McAuliffe


From his tireless push for international trade to his historic crusade on restoring voting rights for former felons, the governor has made an indelible impact on Virginia. READ PROFILE

Greg Stanton


Phoenix's mayor tapped into an economic boom to reverse decades of unsustainable environmental practices and make his city a vibrant, livable place for generations to come. READ PROFILE

Leana Wen

Health Commissioner

Growing up in a low-income, heavily immigrant neighborhood taught Baltimore's Leana Wen how crucial physical health is to the overall well-being of any community. READ PROFILE