1943 (age 77–78)
Balliol College, Oxford University
Yale Law School
|Organization||Ashoka: Innovators for the Public|
William Drayton (born 1943 in New York City) 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 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to finding and fostering social entrepreneurs worldwide. Drayton also chairs two other 501(c)(3) organizations, namely Youth Venture and Get America Working!
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."
He was elected a Member of the American Philosophical Society in 2019.
Drayton's mother emigrated to the United States from Australia. His father was an American who became an explorer. His ancestors were some 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 Phillips Academy, where he established the Asia Society, which soon became the school's most popular student organization. He attended Harvard where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1965, where 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". Drayton entered Balliol College, Oxford and received a Master of Arts degree in 1967. He attended Yale Law School where he received his Juris Doctor in 1970. At Yale Law School, Drayton founded Yale Legislative Services, which, at its peak, involved a third of the law school's student body.
During the administration of President Jimmy Carter (1977–1981), Drayton was an Assistant Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency where he launched emissions trading, among other reforms.
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: Innovators for the Public.
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.
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 was 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.
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- "Vision Award". Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Middlebury College. August 13, 2015. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
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