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Nominating a Leader

The James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards recognize individuals advancing breakthrough solutions to critical issues facing California. Each Award recipient’s organization receives $350,000 and help sharing their solutions with policymakers and other leaders in their communities.

Nominations for the 2025 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards are now closed. Thank you to all who nominated an outstanding California leader this year. We appreciate the opportunity to learn about innovative and effective approaches to critical California issues and the leaders behind them.

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Nominations Tips

Who should nominate

We welcome nominations from people who are well acquainted with the nominee and can describe their alignment with the award criteria. Some nominators are familiar with the nominee’s policy field and can describe how their approach is different from their peers or ripe for expansion; others can describe how they or their peers have been affected by the nominee’s work. The nominator must be someone other than the nominee or a family member and, preferably, not employed by the nominee.

Demonstrating significance

The significance section provides an opportunity to describe the problem the leader and organization are working to solve and why it is important to California. Strong nominations provide the number of people affected by the problem.

Types of innovation

We consider many forms of innovation, including work that:

  • Represents an entirely new approach or a creative leap from standard practices
  • Is not widely known or practiced in California
  • Applies a proven approach in a new way or within a new context

Demonstrating effectiveness

Competitive nominations include evidence that the leader is effectively addressing the problem described in the significance section. Evidence might include impact data, findings from evaluations, examples of how the leader’s work has led to changes in policies, beliefs, or behaviors, or anecdotes about how the work has directly impacted people’s lives.


The Leadership Awards aim to elevate leaders who reflect the diversity of California’s population and regions. The Awards value the diverse life experiences leaders may bring to their work, such as experience with incarceration, serving in the military, or being unhoused. You are welcome to share such details in your nomination, especially if they inform how the nominee conducts their work. We also encourage nominations that are distinct from those we have recognized in recent years.

Use the prompts and word counts

Use the prompts and word counts in the nominations form to guide your responses. They describe the types of information often included in the most competitive nominations. Note that the higher the suggested word count, the more detail we would like you to share about the leader and their work. Avoid repeating information provided in a previous section.

Other Questions

If you have additional questions, please be sure to read through the Leadership Awards FAQ before completing your nomination. You may also review the nominations questions here.

Selection Timeline

Timeline for the 2025 Leadership Awards

February 12, 2024

Nomination period opens for the 2025 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards.

April 30, 2024 at 11:59 pm PDT

The nominations period closes.

Late July 2024

The Selection Committee meets to discuss nominations and selects 10-12 finalists. Finalists are notified.

August – October 2024

Leadership Awards staff, consultants, and an expert in each finalist’s field of work meet with finalists individually to further understand their work and its impact on California. All nominators are notified about the status of their nomination.

Late October 2024

The Selection Committee meets to review reports of the site visits and to select four to six Award recipients. Recipients and other finalists are notified.

February 2025

Award recipients are announced.