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.
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, which was named after the hotel's "gold plate service" that was only used for special occasions. The Golden Plate is awarded for an individual's contributions to science, the arts, public service, sports and industry. 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.
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, 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, Toni Morrison, Kazuo Ishiguro, Wole Soyinka, Orhan Pamuk, Ian McEwan, 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, 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, David McCullough, John Hope Franklin, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Muhammad Ali, John Lewis, 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, Michael Caine, Quincy Jones, Leontyne Price, Audrey Hepburn, Ralph Lauren, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, James Earl Jones, Olivia de Havilland, Cicely Tyson, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, John Wayne, 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, Pitbull, Gloria Estefan, Steven Tyler, Robin Williams, John Williams, George Lucas, Jim Henson, William Wyler, George Cukor, Frank Capra, Steven Spielberg, Elie Wiesel, Shimon Peres, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Gehry, Buckminster Fuller, Anthony M. Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, Neil Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In 1985, Reynolds' son, Wayne, and his son's wife, Catherine B. Reynolds assumed the leadership. In the 1990s, Reynolds moved the organization from Malibu, California, to Washington, D.C.
In 2007, the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation donated $9 million to the Academy.
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. The 2014 International Achievement Summit was held in San Francisco and Napa Valley, California. The Academy held its 2017 International Achievement Summit in London and Oxfordshire, England, and the 2019 Summit in New York City.
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. 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.