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.

The 2013 Public Officials of the Year are:

John Kitzhaber, Governor, Oregon

William Howell, Speaker of the House of Delegates, Virginia

Kathy Nesbitt, Executive Director of the Department of Personnel Administration, Colorado

Jose Cisneros, Treasurer, San Francisco

L. Brooks Patterson, County Executive, Oakland County, Mich.

Karen DeSalvo, Health Commissioner, New Orleans

Anthony Brown, Lieutenant Governor, Maryland

Emily Rahimi, Social Media Manager for the Fire Department, New York City

Greg Fischer, Mayor, Louisville, Ky.