- For other men with this name, see William Drayton (disambiguation).
William "Bill" Drayton (born in New York City, USA), is a social entrepreneur. Drayton was named by U.S. News & World Report as one of America's 25 Best Leaders in 2005. He is responsible for the rise of the phrase "social entrepreneur", a concept first found in print in 1972.
Drayton is the founder and current Chair of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding and fostering social entrepreneurs worldwide. Drayton also chairs the Community Greens, the Ashoka: Innovators for the Public Youth Venture, and Get America Working! organizations.
Drayton's philosophy of social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society's most pressing social problems. To quote Drayton, "Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry."
Drayton's mother emigrated to the US from Australia. His father was an American who became an explorer. Public service and strong values run through the history of both parents' families - including several of the earliest anti-slavery abolitionist and women's leaders in the U.S. Drayton was born in 1943 in New York City.
Drayton attended high school at Andover and went on to Harvard where he received his BA in 1965. Drayton entered Balliol College, Oxford and received an MA in 1967, after which he went to Yale Law School where he received his JD in 1970. As a high school student at Phillips Academy, Drayton established the Asia Society, which soon became the school's most popular student organization. As an undergraduate at Harvard, he created the Ashoka Table, bringing in prominent government, union, and church leaders for off-the-record dinners at which students could ask "how things really worked." At Yale Law School, Drayton founded Yale Legislative Services, which at its peak involved a third of the law school's student body. 
Drayton became a manager and management consultant, working for McKinsey and Company as a consultant for almost ten years. During the Carter administration (1977–1981) he was an Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency where he launched emissions trading among other reforms. He has been a visiting Professor at Harvard and Stanford.
Drayton has received many awards and acknowledgments for his achievements. He was elected one of the early MacArthur Fellows for his work, including the founding of Ashoka. The American Society of Public Administration and the National Academy of Public Administration jointly awarded him their National Public Service Award and he has also been named a Preiskel-Silverman Fellow for Yale Law School and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. On May 25, 2009 he was awarded an honorary degree, Doctorate of Humane Letters, by Yale University at Commencement. David Gergen has called Drayton the “godfather of social entrepreneurship.”  And in 2008, Drayton was named a “visionary” as one of Utne Reader magazine’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing the World.” In 2011, Drayton won Spain's prestigious Prince of Asturias Awards for international cooperation for his work promoting entrepreneurs. The prize foundation described him as a "driving force behind the figure of social entrepreneurs, men and women who undertake innovative initiatives for the common good."  Within the next two weeks, Drayton also accepted the John W. Gardner Leadership award, "established in 1985 to honor outstanding Americans who exemplify the leadership and the ideals of John W. Gardner," and the World Entrepreneurship Forum's Social Entrepreneur Award. In 2012, Drayton would go on to be named an inaugural recipient of Middlebury College's Center for Social Entrepreneurship Vision Award, in recognition of the impact of his contributions to the field of social entrepreneurship.
- USNews.com: The social entrepreneur: Bill Drayton
- see J Banks, The Sociology of Social Movements, London, MacMillan, 1972.
- "GOOD Q&A: Social Entrepreneur Bill Drayton On His White House Years". Huffington Post. 2007-12-03.
- Changing the World on a Shoestring
- Bill Drayton Paints a Vision of Changemaking
- Events - Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship(CASE)
- He is not to be confused with William Drayton of reality television fame.MacArthur Fellows, November 1984, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved February 9, 2008.
- National Public Service Awards
- "Yale Bulletin and Calendar". Yale University. November–December 1999. Retrieved 2009-09-01.
- Gergen, David (2006-02-12). "The New Engines of Reform". U.S News & World Report.
- Visionaries Who Are Changing the World
- "New York social activist wins Spanish prize". Forbes. 2011-06-08.[dead link]
- "Bill Drayton of Ashoka Accepts Three Awards in Three Weeks from Europe, US, and Asia". Ashoka. 2011-11-09.
- Vision Award | Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Middlebury.edu (2015-08-13). Retrieved on 2015-08-13.
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