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The Elliot L. Richardson Prize

The Elliot L. Richardson Prize is presented biennially to individuals possessing the public service virtues exemplified by Elliot L. Richardson, an Academy Fellow. Mr. Richardson was an exceptional public servant and the only individual in our nation's history to serve in four Cabinet-level positions in the U.S. government: Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), Secretary of Defense, Attorney General and Secretary of Commerce.


Elliot L. Richardson was an exceptional public servant, a National Academy Fellow, and the only individual to serve in four Cabinet-level positions in the U.S. government, including Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, and Secretary of Commerce.

Shortly after his death in 1999, several friends and admirers of Mr. Richardson, along with the financial support of Hitachi, Ltd and the Hitachi Foundation, established The Elliot L. Richardson Prize Fund in honor of his memory. The Prize Fund’s sole purpose was to establish and administer the Elliot L. Richardson Prize, which is awarded for excellence and integrity in government service and public management. The Fund’s goal is to “inspire future public service by highlighting the accomplishments of other exceptional public servants.”

Originally established under the auspices of the Council for Excellence in Government, the Board of the Fund approached the National Academy about becoming the new home for this prestigious award and fund. In 2010 the National Academy acquired the Elliot L. Richardson Prize Fund – a $1.2 million endowment that supports a periodic award to one or more individuals for excellence in public service (when there is more than one award the prize monies are split among the awardees). The amount of the prize is determined by the fund Board of Directors, and has typically been $50,000. Consistent with the public spiritedness of Elliot L. Richardson, recipients of the award are required to designate one or more charities to receive half the prize amount they are awarded.

Award Eligibility and Nominations

The Elliot L. Richardson Prize recipients are chosen by a majority vote of the Board of the Prize Fund. The Board receives recommendations from the Fund Nominating Committee, from other Board members, as well as from the general public.

Nominations closed Friday, March 15, 2019. 

Selection Criteria

The Bylaws of the Fund specify that the Elliot L. Richardson Prize is to be awarded to individuals “possessing the public service virtues exemplified by Elliot L. Richardson.” Those individuals selected to receive the ELR Prize shall have demonstrated:

  • Achievement, by significantly advancing the public good;
  • Long-term dedication to public service, by serving the public interest in a public service capacity; and
  • Generosity of spirit, thoughtfulness in the pursuit of excellence in government, courage and integrity.

Past Award Recipients

Leon Panetta and Sylvia Mathews Burwell (2017)
John Koskinen (2016)
William D. Ruckelshaus (2016)
Sheila C. Bair (2013)
Paul A. Volcker (2013)
Robert M. Gates (2012)
James A. Baker III (2010) 
George J. Mitchell (2010) 
Lee Hamilton (2006)
Tom Kean (2006)
Norman Y. Mineta (2004)
Sandra Day O'Connor (2004)
Colin L. Powell (2002)
Alice M. Rivlin (2002)
George P. Shultz (2002)

Contact Information

Kaitlyn Blume - kblume@napawash.org

Director of Fellow Engagement