Academy of Achievement

The Academy of Achievement, officially known as the American Academy of Achievement, was founded in 1961 by Sports Illustrated and LIFE magazine photographer Brian Reynolds to bring together accomplished people from diverse fields in order to exchange ideas and to encourage the next generation of young leaders.[1]

Academy of Achievement
Logo of the Academy of Achievement
TypeNon-profit organization
HeadquartersWashington, D.C., USA
Chairman & CEO
Wayne R. Reynolds
Vice Chairman
Catherine B. Reynolds

The first annual Summit hosted by the Academy culminated with a “Banquet of the Golden Plate” awards ceremony on September 9, 1961, in Monterey, California,[2] which was named after the hotel's "gold plate service" that was only used for special occasions.[3] The Golden Plate is awarded for an individual's contributions to science, the arts, public service, sports and industry.[4][2][1][5][6][7] The first honorees were chosen by a national board of governors but, for more than fifty years, have been selected by the Golden Plate Awards Council, which consists of prior Academy awardees.[8][2][1][9]

Golden Plate Awardees who have participated in the Academy’s Achievement Summits over the past six decades include: Jonas Salk, Sally Ride, Francis H.C. Crick, James Watson, Frederick Sanger, Linus Pauling, John Bardeen, Sir Edmund Hillary, Tenzing Norgay, Neil Armstrong, Jimmy Doolittle, John Glenn, Alan Shepard, James Lovell, Chuck Yeager, Maya Lin, Bryan Stevenson, Rosa Parks, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Gerald R. Ford, Mikhail Gorbachev, John Hume, Abdullah II of Jordan, Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Robert Gates, Leon Panetta, Tim Berners-Lee, Claude Shannon, Grace Murray Hopper, Howard H. Aiken, Jack Kilby, Arthur Rock, William R. Hewlett, Arnold O. Beckman, Robert S. Langer, Charles Stark Draper, Kelly Johnson, Isidor Isaac Rabi, Maria Goeppert Mayer, Charles H. Townes, Edward Teller,[10] Wernher von Braun, Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Jane Goodall, Michael DeBakey, Denton Cooley, Ben Carson, Milton Friedman, Daniel Kahneman, Douglas MacArthur, Omar Bradley, Colin Powell, Billy Graham, Francis Collins, Anthony Fauci, Frances Arnold, Gertrude B. Elion, Shirin Ebadi, Vartan Gregorian, Beverly Sills, Jessye Norman, Toni Morrison, Kazuo Ishiguro, Wole Soyinka, Orhan Pamuk, Ian McEwan, Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, John Grisham, Clare Booth Luce, Joyce Carol Oates, Edna O’Brien, Alex Haley, John Updike, Wallace Stegner, Herman Wouk, James A. Michener, Michael Jordan, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Arnold Palmer, John Wooden, Bear Bryant, Tom Landry, Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Sir Roger Bannister, Wayne Gretzky, Simone Biles, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, Bill Russell, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Cal Ripken Jr., Herschel Walker,[11] Walter Payton, Peyton Manning, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, Bart Starr, Norman Borlaug, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Larry Ellison, Stephen Bechtel Sr., John D. MacArthur, Carlos Slim, Michael Dell, Phil Knight, John H. Johnson, Pete Rozelle, Jamie Dimon, Henry Kravis, George R. Roberts, Stephen A. Schwarzman, Lord Thomson of Fleet, Lord Jacob Rothschild, Walter Annenberg, Michael Bloomberg, Ted Turner, Ray Kroc, Colonel Sanders, Akio Morita, Chung Ju-yung, Katharine Graham, Ben Bradlee, Bob Woodward, Allen Drury, Russell Baker, Art Buchwald, Mike Wallace, Lowell Thomas, Barbara Walters, John Chancellor, Tom Brokaw, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough, John Hope Franklin, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Muhammad Ali, John Lewis,[12] Nancy Pelosi, Dick Cheney, Howard Baker, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Coretta Scott King, Desmond Tutu, Sidney Poitier, August Wilson, Wynton Marsalis, Itzhak Perlman, Barbra Streisand, Julie Andrews, Carol Burnett, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jimmy Page, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, Michael Caine, Quincy Jones, Leontyne Price, Audrey Hepburn, Ralph Lauren, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, James Earl Jones, Olivia de Havilland,[13] Cicely Tyson, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, John Wayne,[14] James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Shirley Temple, Helen Hayes, Elizabeth Taylor, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, B.B. King, Dolly Parton, Sonny Rollins, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Van Morrison, Sting, Bono, Pitbull, Gloria Estefan, Steven Tyler, Robin Williams, John Williams, George Lucas, Jim Henson, Julie Taymor, Twyla Tharp, Arthur Mitchell, Judith Jamison, Suzanne Farrell, Nora Ephron, Joseph Papp, Mike Nichols, Peter Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, James Cameron, William Wyler, George Cukor, Frank Capra, Steven Spielberg, Elie Wiesel, Shimon Peres, Robert Rauschenberg, Jeff Koons, Santiago Calatrava, Philip Johnson, Louis Kahn, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Buckminster Fuller, Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, Neil Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.[15][16]

In 1985, Reynolds' son, Wayne, and his son's wife, Catherine B. Reynolds assumed the leadership.[17][18][19] In the 1990s, Reynolds moved the organization from Malibu, California, to Washington, D.C.[20]

In 2007, the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation donated $9 million to the Academy.[20][17][21][22]

The Academy of Achievement celebrated its 50th anniversary Summit in Washington, D.C., which concluded with the Banquet of the Golden Plate ceremonies on October 27, 2012.[23][24] The 2014 International Achievement Summit was held in San Francisco and Napa Valley, California.[25] The Academy held its 2017 International Achievement Summit in London and Oxfordshire, England, and the 2019 Summit in New York City.[26][27][28]

The Academy hosts the annual International Achievement Summit, which brings together visionaries and pioneers from diverse fields of accomplishment with graduate students and other young leaders from around the world.[29][30][31][32][33][34] In addition, the Academy produces the “What It Takes” podcast series featuring the personal journeys and interviews of Academy members. The "What It Takes” podcast received the 2020 Webby Award for Best Series.[35]


  1. ^ a b c "Banquet Will Honor 50 for Achievements". The Milwaukee Sentinel. September 7, 1961. Retrieved December 14, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c "Dazzling Decorations, Fine Food: Golden Plate Planned for 1962: First Annual Event Wins High Praise". Monterey Peninsula Herald. September 11, 1961.
  3. ^ Bruce C. Cooper. "A Brief Illustrated History of The Palace Hotel of San Francisco". Retrieved January 1, 2003.
  4. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  5. ^ "In 1982, Steve Jobs presented an amazingly accurate theory about where creativity comes from". Business Insider. February 21, 2015.
  6. ^ "Linus Pauling Awards, Medals, and Honors". Business Insider. June 23, 1979.
  7. ^ "Ray Charles received many major awards, among them: "The Golden Plate Award" which was presented to him in 1975 by the American Academy of Achievement for his outstanding contributions. He was subsequently named to the Academy's Board of Directors". The Ray Charles Foundation.
  8. ^ "Golden Plate Awards Council of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  9. ^ "Golden Plate: Academy of Achievement awards will honor best in many fields" (PDF). Sunday Courier and Press. March 26, 1978.
  10. ^ "American Academy of Achievement Fills Coronado with Famous Names, From Burt Reynolds to Edward Teller" (PDF). Coronado Journal. July 14, 1983.
  11. ^ "1993 Salute to Excellence: Stars of Today and Tomorrow Meet in Glacier" (PDF). Great Falls Tribune. June 27, 1993.
  12. ^ "Rep. John Lewis, A Force In The Civil Rights Movement, Dead At 80". NPR Weekend Edition Saturday. July 17, 2020.
  13. ^ "Olivia de Havilland's Real Hollywood Legacy". The Atlantic. July 26, 2020.
  14. ^ "John Wayne Honored" (PDF). The Dallas Morning News. June 25, 1970.
  15. ^ "About the Academy". American Academy of Achievement.
  16. ^ "Summit Overview". American Academy of Achievement.
  17. ^ a b Schudel, Matt (June 5, 2005). "Brian Blaine Reynolds, Also Known as Hy Peskin, Dies; Accomplished Sports Photographer Founded Academy of Achievement". Washington Post. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  18. ^ "Record Gift for Kennedy Center; Businesswoman Gives $100 Million To Building Fund". December 7, 2002. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  19. ^ Mike Wallace. "Who is Catherine Reynolds". Retrieved December 15, 2002.
  20. ^ a b Montgomery, David (April 4, 2009). "D.C. philanthropists Catherine and Wayne Reynolds pledge millions". Washington Post. Retrieved August 6, 2015.
  21. ^ Boyle, Katherine (March 29, 2013). "Wayne Reynolds makes a lavish push for a bold plan for the Corcoran". The Washington Post.
  22. ^ "Official website of the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation".
  23. ^ "'Achievement summit' brings intellectual rebels together in D.C."
  24. ^ "2012 Summit 50th anniversary highlights". American Academy of Achievement.
  25. ^ "2014 International Achievement Summit in New York City". American Academy of Achievement.
  26. ^ "2017 International Achievement Summit in London and Oxfordshire, England". American Academy of Achievement.
  27. ^ "2019 International Achievement Summit in New York City". American Academy of Achievement.
  28. ^ "Valentino Garavani was honoured by the American Academy of Achievement with the Golden Plate Award". Valentino Garavani Museum. October 19, 2017.
  29. ^ "Visiting politicians to get protection". The Irish Times. June 4, 2002.
  30. ^ Jerome Reilly. "Clinton and Gorbachev at secret Dublin summit". Retrieved June 8, 2002.
  31. ^ Ellen Warren. "A meeting of the minds". Retrieved June 14, 2004.
  32. ^ Robin Goldman. "American Academy of Achievement and What It Takes Podcast Interviews with African-American Leaders and Legends to Celebrate Black History Month". Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  33. ^ Roxanne Roberts. "You Have a Dream". Retrieved May 4, 2003.
  34. ^ Shann Nix (June 26, 1989). "Looking Up to The Stars: Where 50 top celebs dazzle 400 students" (PDF). The San Francisco Chronicle.
  35. ^ "What It Takes Podcasts is a Webby Honoree in Podcasts: Best Series". Webby Award.

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