Who is eligible for this award?
Nominated leaders may be:
- An individual or a leadership group
- Working in any sector (nonprofit, public or private)
- Working in any field (such as education, health, public safety, housing, economic development or the environment)
Nominees must be residents of California. For group nominations, we recommend nominating three or fewer leaders. We seek nominees who have not been extensively recognized for their work through other awards.
We seek to recognize leaders who are advancing innovative and effective solutions to some of the most challenging issues facing California and who are making a significant difference to our shared future. We ask nominators to review the selection criteria before nominating.
Who can nominate a leader?
We welcome nominations from people who are well acquainted with the nominated leader or leadership group and can attest to their qualifications. The nominator must be someone other than the nominee or a family member. We encourage nominations from persons not employed by the nominee. Nominators do not need to collaborate with a nominee in preparing the nomination package, nor do they need to keep the submission confidential.
Can more than one person nominate the same leader?
Most nominees have only one nominator, although we will consider multiple nominations for the same leader.
Can past nominees be renominated?
Yes. Several past award recipients were nominated in multiple years.
Will posthumous nominations be accepted?
We discourage posthumous nominations. The awards are designed to provide an opportunity to recipients to educate policymakers and practitioners in their field about the solutions they have implemented, thereby expanding the number of Californians who benefit from their effective work.
Are there any restrictions for recipients from publicly supported entities receiving the award?
When James Irvine established the Foundation in 1937, he stipulated that his funds "shall be used for such charities as do not enjoy substantial support through taxation." As a result, we are prohibited from making a grant to a publicly funded organization unless the grant supports a specific project that would not otherwise be funded with public dollars. For the Leadership Awards, if a recipient’s organization receives more than 50 percent of its total revenue from government sources, the award funds will need to be applied to a specific project that is not supported in majority by government funds.
Nomination and Selection Process
When is the nomination deadline?
Nominations for the 2014 awards were accepted through April 10, 2013 and are now closed. We anticipate nominations for the 2015 Leadership Awards will open in January 2014.
Do nominators need to submit references for the nominee?
No. Although we requested a list of references in past years, we no longer request them.
When will I be updated on the status of my nomination?
In April, each nominator will be notified by email as to whether their nominee has advanced to the second round of the nomination process. Each nominator participating in the second round will be notified in August as to whether his or her nominee has advanced to the finalist round. In November, the remaining nominators will be notified of the final decisions of the Selection Committee.
How are the award recipients selected?
The selection process is fully described under Selection Process.
When will award recipients be announced?
We anticipate publicly announcing the award recipients in February 2014.
Can I save my application online and come back to it?
Yes, the online process is designed so that you can stop and save your work at any time. Simply revisit the nomination site and log back in using the email address and password with which you created an account. Please note that once you have submitted your nomination, however, you will no longer be able to edit it.
How do I know that my application has been received?
Once you have completed the online form and uploaded your letter of nomination, you will then be asked to “Submit” your nomination. Once your nomination has been submitted, a message will appear confirming it was received, and you will also receive a confirmation email sent to the email address designated as your User ID.
Please contact Jessica Shao, Program Associate for Irvine's California Democracy program, at 1.866.586.6465 (toll-free) or at
with technical questions about submitting nominations and other questions about the awards.