"Make no little plans,” the Chicago architect Daniel Burnham once remarked. “They have no magic to stir men’s blood.”

If Burnham, the most famous builder of his era, could meet the 10 men and women being honored as 2018 Public Officials of the Year, he would be pleased. Not a single one among them has little plans or modest goals. They’re focused on very big ideas: providing free college to all; ending the practice of solitary confinement in state prisons; addressing agricultural pollution and the food desert problem in our cities; eliminating all traffic fatalities; making voting accessible and secure for every citizen; stopping opioid overdose deaths; and tackling the culture of sexual harassment within state capitols.

Goalsetting, of course, is the most basic responsibility of any executive. But these 10 honorees didn’t just set goals; they set ambitious, audacious, society-changing goals. Through their hard work, they’re not only accomplishing these goals, but carrying out some of the most striking public policy achievements in the nation today.

For 25 years now, Governing has honored outstanding public officials who have made an indelible impact on the lives of the people they serve. We are pleased to honor the achievements of these 10 dedicated individuals.


2018 Honorees

Chris Castro

Director of Sustainability

With an urban farming innovation and a carbon-free vision, Chris Castro is reimagining his city’s relationship to the environment. READ PROFILE

Legislators of #MeToo

Faith Winter, Toi Hutchinson, Karen Engleman

Many states have enacted new sexual harassment measures, thanks to lawmakers like these. READ PROFILE

Eric Garcetti


With his relentless focus on data and eye for big ideas, he embodies what it means to be an effective urban leader in 21st-century America. READ PROFILE

Rahul Gupta

Former Public Health Commissioner

To help address drug overdose deaths, Rahul Gupta led West Virginia in a "post-autopsy autopsy." READ PROFILE

Bill Haslam


Bill Haslam's revolutionary community college program is just one way he’s made Tennessee a better place to live. READ PROFILE

Amber McReynolds

Former Elections Director

In Denver, turnout is up, costs are down, and voting is more secure than ever -- all thanks to Amber McReynolds. READ PROFILE

Rick Raemisch

Executive Director, Department of Corrections

Rick Raemisch has spurred a national conversation about cruel and unusual punishment. READ PROFILE

Polly Trottenberg

Commissioner of Transportation

Polly Trottenberg's bold vision for making roads safer is revolutionizing her city -- and dozens more across the country. READ PROFILE