CAMBRIDGE, MA—New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will receive Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership Gleitsman International Activist Award during a virtual ceremony on December 1, 2020. The award honors Ardern for her leadership, decisive action, and commitment to reformative and inclusive policies that have served her country and the health of our planet. The prime minister has asked that this year’s $150,000 prize money go to a scholarship for a student from New Zealand enrolled at Harvard Kennedy School.
“We are thrilled that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will accept this year’s award,” said Amb. Wendy R. Sherman, professor of the practice of public leadership and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School. “The Prime Minister exemplifies principled, effective and just leadership, exactly the kind of leadership our students aspire to uphold. She has wielded a steady and swift hand, an open mind, and a keen reflection of her entire community in meeting challenges of terror, earthquakes and now Covid-19. The prime minister reminds all of us that strength, compassion, science, clear communications, humility and activism go hand in hand to create positive results.”
New Zealand was the first country where women won the right to vote and Ardern is its third female leader. A self-described “pragmatic idealist,” Ardern implemented stringent measures to combat climate change, with the goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. She moved quickly and with compassionate resolve in the days following the March 15, 2019 terrorist shooting attack, leading her government to ban military style semi-automatics and assault rifles within weeks. Working with France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Ardern ushered tech companies and global government leaders toward collective commitment to countering terrorist and extremist content through the Christchurch Call.
Most recently, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ardern led New Zealand to record low rates of disease transmission and death through clear, science-based mandates and responsive supports for citizens and the medical community.
In October 2020, Ardern was elected to a second term.
The Gleitsman Award and $150,000 prize are given annually by the Center for Public Leadership to an individual or team whose leadership in social action has improved the quality of life in the United States and across the globe. Previous Gleitsman recipients include Malala Yousafzai, Tarana Burke, Nelson Mandela, Gloria Steinem, and U.S. Representative John Lewis.
Details for Harvard Kennedy School’s public virtual ceremony honoring Prime Minister Ardern can be found below.
Gleitsman Award Public Ceremony Details
December 1, 2020
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. EST
Harvard Kennedy School
JFK Jr. Forum
About Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern is the 40th Prime Minister of New Zealand & Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was born in the city of Hamilton, New Zealand, and grew up rurally. She attended high school before graduating from the University of Waikato with a Bachelor of Communication Studies in Politics and Public Relations.
Post-university, she worked as an advisor in the office of then-Prime Minister Helen Clark, in London for the Government Cabinet Office and as an Assistant Director in the Department for Business and Enterprise, and on a review of Policing in England and Wales.
The Prime Minister joined the New Zealand Labour Party at age 18 and entered New Zealand’s Parliament in 2008. Over her twelve years as a representative she has been a strong advocate for children, women, and the right of every New Zealander to have meaningful work.
She became the MP for the Auckland electorate Mt Albert in early 2017, and the Leader of the Labour Party in August 2017. As well as Prime Minister, she holds the roles of Minister for National Security and Intelligence, and Minister for Child Poverty Reduction, an issue particularly close to her heart. She is also the Minister Responsible for Ministerial Services and Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.
About the Center for Public Leadership
The Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School develops principled, effective public leaders. A global hub for leadership learning, we integrate academic preparation with practice to build knowledge and character required to make positive change in the world.
About Alan Gleitsman
Alan Gleitsman was a television executive who founded the Gleitsman Foundation in 1989 following the sale of his extensive feature film and television library. A graduate of Cornell University and a U.S. Air Force veteran, Gleitsman’s longtime commitment to social justice was aligned with his philosophy that even a single person with heart and determination can bring about meaningful solutions to challenging societal problems. In 2007, Gleitsman’s Estate endowed the Gleitsman Program in Leadership for Social Change at Harvard Kennedy School, which supports both the awarding of the Gleitsman Citizen and International Activist Awards, and the Alan L. Gleitsman Professor of Social Change at Harvard Kennedy School.
Director, Communications and Events
Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School