Academy of Achievement

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Academy of Achievement
Logo of the Academy of Achievement
Formation 1961
Type Non-profit organization
Headquarters Washington, D.C., USA
Chairman & CEO
Wayne R. Reynolds[1][2]
Vice Chairman
Catherine B. Reynolds[3][4]

The Academy of Achievement is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization that aims to bring high profile, successful people from various fields together with "young achievers" to inspire them to succeed.

The organization presents its annual "Golden Plate" award to high achieving individuals.


Academy of Achievement building


The Academy of Achievement was founded by Sports Illustrated[5][6] and LIFE magazine photographer Brian Reynolds in 1961[7] to honor high achievers and to inspire young people by introducing them to high achieving individuals.On his many assignments as a magazine photographer, Brian Reynolds realized that high achieving individuals rarely had the opportunity to meet and share ideas with leaders in other disciplines.[7] And, with that vision, Reynolds created the Academy of Achievement to bring together accomplished individuals from diverse fields of endeavor to meet one another and encourage the next generation of young leaders. The first event hosted by the Academy was a "Banquet of the Golden Plate" on September 9, 1961 in Monterey, California.[8] The inspiration for the naming of the Banquet of the Golden Plate was the gold plate service "used only on very special occasions" at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco in the 1920s.[8][9] At the Academy program, individuals were awarded the Academy's "Golden Plate" for their contributions as leaders in science, the arts, public service, sports and industry. The first honorees were chosen by a national board of governors and included Luis W. Alvarez, Charles Mayo, Willard F. Libby, and Wernher von Braun. Edward Teller gave the keynote speech.[8][10] The second annual Banquet of the Golden Plate was held in San Diego, California on December 29, 1962. Among the guests of honor in 1962 were Murray Gell-Mann, Robert Stack and Rafer Johnson. Louis Nizer gave the keynote speech.[11] The 50th anniversary Banquet of the Golden Plate was held in Washington, D.C. on October 27, 2012. The guests of honor at the 2012 Summit included Leon Panetta, Eric Holder, Sonia Sotomayor, Ray Dalio, David Petraeus, David Brooks and Louise Glück.[12]


The Academy's mission is to recognize outstanding achievement in a variety of fields, including the arts, business, science, politics and the humanities.[13] The organization also aims to provide inspiration and encouragement to young people to reach a high level in their careers and personal interests by bringing them into contact with successful individuals.[14][15] According to The Press-Enterprise, the organization's founder Brian Reynolds wanted the Academy to teach young people about "adversity and how to overcome it".

Organization and funding[edit]

Brian Reynolds led the Academy as its executive director[10] until 1985, when his son Wayne Reynolds assumed leadership.[2][16] Wayne Reynolds is the current chairman of the Academy of Achievement, which he manages with his wife, Catherine B. Reynolds, the vice chairman.[17] In the 1990s, Reynolds moved the organization from Malibu, California to its current headquarters in Washington, D.C.[2] In addition to the Academy's annual events, it also operates the Museum of Achievement and a website, which features biographies and videos of interviews with Academy of Achievement inductees.[18]

The Academy, which operates as a non-profit organization, was initially funded with Brian Reynolds' personal wealth. More recently, donations from corporate sponsors support its activities[2][16] and the Academy's website states that its funding is primarily provided by the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation.[19][20]

In 2007, the Washington Post reported that the Academy is a beneficiary of the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation, which is led by Catherine Reynolds.[21] The Academy has received $9 million of the more than $100 million in donations made by the Foundation to an array of arts, education and social enterprise organizations.[22]

International Achievement Summit[edit]

The International Achievement Summit was first hosted in 1961.[8] The meeting was originally called the annual "Salute to Excellence" and was later renamed the "International Achievement Summit". This annual meeting gives exceptional graduate students the opportunity to interact one-on-one with Nobel Prize-winners in the arts and sciences, public servants, prize-winning journalists, explorers, humanitarians, financiers, athletes, and entertainers. The Academy invites leaders in these categories to attend the Summit and address the students at a series of symposiums and roundtable discussions. The Academy also organizes dinners and other social events where the students are able to meet with honorees or to listen to them speak on various topics. Approximately 30 previous awardees and 20 new ones interact with 200 domestic and international graduate students in an informal setting over the course of four days. The summit concludes with a formal dinner where that year's honorees are officially presented with their Golden Plate awards and inducted into the Academy of Achievement.[23][24][25][26][27][28]

Until 1999, the meeting was held in a different U.S. city each year. In 1999, the event became the "International Achievement Summit", when the Academy held its first international meeting in Budapest, Hungary.[18][29] Subsequent Summits have been held in London, England (2000),[13][30][31] Dublin, Ireland (2002), Washington, D.C. (2003),[18] Chicago, Illinois[15] New York City (2005), Los Angeles, California (2006), Washington, D.C. (2007), Kailua-Kona, Hawaii (2008), Cape Town and Singita Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa (2009), Washington, D.C. (2010[32] and 2012)[12] and San Francisco, California (2014).

Student delegates[edit]

Several hundred graduate students from the U.S. and overseas attend the "International Achievement Summit" each year. The summits were originally attended by high school students chosen based on their academic achievement and extracurricular activities.[14][26] More recently, the graduate student attendees of the International Achievement Summit have been selected from a roster of recipients of scholarship and exchange programs including Rhodes, Fulbright, Truman, Gates Cambridge, Marshall,[18] Soros,[33] Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Fellows[34] and White House Fellows and faculty nominations from leading universities.[18]


  1. ^ “A fresh voice for the Corcoran Gallery’s board”; The Washington Post, March 9, 2013
  2. ^ a b c d Montgomery, David (March 5, 2013). "Wayne Reynolds, former Ford’s Theatre chair, pitches to save Corcoran Gallery". The Washington Post. 
  3. ^ Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation website
  4. ^ "Who Is Catherine Reynolds?"; CBS News 60 Minutes, August 22, 2003
  5. ^ Neil Leifer (June 13, 2005). "Hy Peskin 1915-2005: Off on His Own" (PDF). SIVault. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Hy Peskin: The Ultimate Enigma in Sports Photography". Sports Shooter. 
  7. ^ a b Anahad O'Connor (June 7, 2005). "Obituary: Hy Peskin, 89, Photographer; Sharp Pictures, Sharp Angles". New York Times. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Dazzling Decorations, Fine Food: Golden Plate Planned for 1962: First Annual Event Wins High Praise" (PDF). Monterey Peninsula Herald. September 11, 1961. Retrieved September 11, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Souvenir of the Palace Hotel". 
  10. ^ a b "Banquet Will Honor 50 for Achievements". The Milwaukee Sentinel. September 7, 1961. Retrieved December 14, 2011. 
  11. ^ "OceanHouse Dinner of Golden Plate Honors Notables: Salute Accorded 71 for Achievements" (PDF). Dell Webb’s OceanHouse San Diego. January 1963. Retrieved September 11, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Manuel Roig-Franzia. "‘Achievement summit’ brings intellectual rebels together in D.C." Washington Post, Oct 28, 2012.
  13. ^ a b Ed Power (June 10, 2002). "Academy pays tribute to political figures" (PDF). The Irish Times. p. 5. 
  14. ^ a b "LEADERS GETS `SALUTE' FOR EXCELLENCE". HighBeam Research. 
  15. ^ a b Ellen Warren (June 14, 2004). "A meeting of the minds: Hollywood A-listers, Nobel Prize winners and myriad other geniuses rub elbows at International Achievement Summit". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  16. ^ a b "Brian Blaine Reynolds, Also Known as Hy Peskin, Dies; Accomplished Sports Photographer Founded Academy of Achievement". HighBeam Research. 
  17. ^ "Record Gift for Kennedy Center; Businesswoman Gives $100 Million To Building Fund". HighBeam Research. 
  18. ^ a b c d e "You Have a Dream; Achievement Summiteers Bask in The Past and Presence of Greatness". HighBeam Research. 
  19. ^ "Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation website". 
  20. ^ Boyle, Katherine (March 29, 2013). "Wayne Reynolds makes a lavish push for a bold plan for the Corcoran". The Washington Post. 
  21. ^ Milk, Leslie (January 11, 2012). "Washingtonians of the Year 2011: Catherine Reynolds" (PDF). Washingtonian. 
  22. ^ Paley, Amit R. and Valerie Strauss (July 16, 2007). "Student Loan Nonprofit a Boon for CEO". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 20, 2011. 
  23. ^ Rachel Emma Silverman (July 23, 1999). "The Glitziest Gathering Nobody Knows: Obscure Academy Honors Students And Celebrities" (PDF). The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 30, 2013. 
  24. ^ Judy Bachrach (June 27, 1978). "Gathering of the Greats—And Hopes of Tomorrow: The Mighty Meet 370 Young Achievers At the Olympus of Excellence" (PDF). The Washington Post. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  25. ^ L.D. Seits (June 24, 1978). "They Love Cauthen: ‘No great student’ is among greats honored at Golden Plate Awards" (PDF). The Kentucky Press. Retrieved July 30, 2013. 
  26. ^ a b "Top Student Mingles With Top Celebrities". HighBeam Research. 
  27. ^ Staff Report (September 1998). "Inspiring The Future: The 1998 Achievement Summit" (PDF). The Elks Magazine. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Young Dreamers Meet Achievers". HighBeam Research. 
  29. ^ Greg Rienzi (August 2, 1999). "Budapest summit conference invites 17 SAIS students" (PDF). The JHU Gazette. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  30. ^ Paul Colgan (June 9, 2002). "Clinton leads elite at secret Irish summit" (PDF). The Sunday Times. Retrieved August 8, 2013. 
  31. ^ Clodagh Mulcahy (June 3, 2002). "The day I met Bill Clinton for a chat about the world" (PDF). The Irish Times. Retrieved August 9, 2013. 
  32. ^ "NYU Reynolds Program in Social Entrepreneurship, 2010 Academy of Achievement Summit". 
  33. ^ "The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans". 
  34. ^ "HHMI Medical Research Fellows Program". 

External links[edit]