American Academy of Achievement
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American Academy of Achievement

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

The American Academy of Achievement, colloquially known as the Academy of Achievement, is a non-profit educational organization that recognizes some of the highest achieving individuals in diverse fields[1] and gives them the opportunity to meet one another.[2] The Academy also brings together the leaders with promising graduate students for mentorship.[3][4] The Academy hosts an International Achievement Summit, which ends with an awards ceremony, during which new members are inducted into the Academy.[1][5][6]


Chuck Berry presenting Golden Plate Award to Bob Dylan - 2003 Academy of Achievement Summit - DC

Founded in 1961 by Sports Illustrated and LIFE magazine photographer Brian Reynolds, the Academy of Achievement recognizes the highest achievers in public service, business, science and exploration, sports and the arts.[4][7] Reynolds established the Academy after he realized that the famous people he photographed from different fields did not usually have the opportunity to interact with one another. The organization was described in a 1989 San Francisco Chronicle article as "little-publicized but immensely powerful." According to Dr. William DeVries, who helped develop the first artificial heart, "It is a social network. Like a club. Now I can call Chuck Yeager up, or Philip 'Bo' Knight and they'll return my calls, ask me out places. I promised myself I would never ask the people here for money, but I know a lot of scientists who do."[2] Reynolds also wanted to bring together highly accomplished leaders with promising students in order to inspire them.[8][9] At the 1990 summit in Chicago, for example, student delegates "rubbed shoulders" with Ronald Reagan, Maya Angelou and Michael Jordan,[10] and in 1995, top students met with inductees including George H. W. Bush, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Lady Bird Johnson, Robin Williams, Mike Krzyzewski and Rosa Parks.[11]

Academy members and summit attendees have also included "Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan ...Colin Powell ...Maya Lin, Barbra Streisand, Mikhail Gorbachev, Steven Spielberg [and] George Lucas."[12] In 2005, the Washington Post described the event as "one of the world's most dazzling gatherings of international celebrities - Nobel Prize winners, heads of state, star athletes, titans of industry, scientists and entertainers."[13]

In 1985, Reynolds' son, Wayne Reynolds, took over the leadership, becoming the executive director of the Academy[2] and, in 1999, was selected as the board chairman.[1][7][14] In the 1990s, Reynolds moved the organization from Malibu, California, to its new foundation headquarters building in Washington, D.C.[15]

In 2007, the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation donated $9 million to the Academy.[15][14][16][17]

Achievement Summit

2006 Summit Hosts Steven Spielberg and George Lucas welcome the Academy delegates and members to the International Achievement Summit in Los Angeles

The annual summit is attended by graduate students and young innovators from the U.S. and overseas, like Sergey Brin and Larry Page, computer science graduate students who later founded Google.[18][19] The summits were originally attended by high school students chosen based on their academic achievement and extracurricular activities.[1] Preceding the awards dinner are three days of panels, presentations and informal dialogues between the students and inductees. Many inductees return multiple years to participate in the panels, programming and networking.[20]

On September 9, 1961, the Academy hosted its first International Achievement Summit.[2] The summit, held in Monterey, California,[21] included a "Banquet of the Golden Plate" award ceremony, named for the gold plate service used for special occasions by the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, which provided the service for the ceremony. Physicist Edward Teller was the keynote speaker, and warned of the United States' poor performance in the atomic arms race. Awardees at the inaugural ceremony also included engineers Charles Stark Draper and Kelly Johnson, General Douglas MacArthur and film director William Wyler.[2][22] Other attendees at the inaugural banquet included Nobel laureate Willard Libby (Chemistry 1960) and future Nobel laureate Luis Walter Alvarez (Physics 1968).[23] The first honorees were chosen by a national board of governors, but subsequent honorees have been selected by the Golden Plate Awards Council, which consists of prior Academy awardees.[21][22][24]

On October 27, 2012, the Academy celebrated its 50th anniversary with a summit in Washington, D.C.[25]

The latest summit was held in New York City in 2019.[26]

Notable Recipients of the Golden Plate Award

Recipient Category Year inducted Notes
Muhammad Ali Sports 1986 [5][27]
Jeff Bezos Business 2001 [28][27]
Simone Biles Sports 2017 [29][27]
Sergey Brin Business 2004 [5][30][27]
Francis Crick Science 1987 [6][27]
Bob Dylan The Arts 2003 [1][27]
Gerald Ford Public Service 1971 [31][27]
Aretha Franklin The Arts 1999 [1][27]
Bill Gates Business 1992 [32][27][33]
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Public Service 1995 [11][1][27]
Mikhail Gorbachev Public Service 2000 [12][27]
Wayne Gretzky Sports 1983 [34][27]
Audrey Hepburn The Arts 1991 [35][27]
Steve Jobs Business 1982 [36][37][27]
Coretta Scott King Public Service 1997 [1][6][27]
Ralph Lauren Business 1989 [29][27]
George Lucas The Arts 1989 [2][1][38][27]
Mickey Mantle Sports 1969 [5][27]
Larry Page Business 2004 [5][27]
Rosa Parks Public Service 1995 [38][11][27]
Shimon Peres Public Service 2003 [1][27]
Steven Spielberg The Arts 1986 [39][37][6][27]
John Wayne The Arts 1970 [40][36][27]
Elie Wiesel Public Service 1996 [28][27]
Oprah Winfrey Business 1989 [2][27]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Roberts, Roxanne (May 4, 2003). "You Have a Dream; Achievement Summiteers Bask in The Past and Presence of Greatness". The Washington Post.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Nix, Shann (June 26, 1989). "Looking Up to the Stars: Where 50 top celebs dazzle 400 students" (PDF). San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2020.
  3. ^ Reilly, Jerome. "Clinton and Gorbachev at secret Dublin summit". independent. Retrieved 2020.
  4. ^ a b Wallace, Mike (December 15, 2002). "Catherine B. Reynolds". 60 Minutes. Retrieved 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e Warren, Ellen (June 14, 2004). "A meeting of the minds". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d Silverman, Rachel Emma (July 23, 1999). "The Glitziest Gathering Nobody Knows: Academy Honors Students and Celebrities". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2021.
  7. ^ a b O'Connor, Anahad (June 7, 2005). "Hy Peskin, 89, Photographer, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2021.
  8. ^ Nelson, Valerie J. (June 10, 2005). "Hy Peskin, 89; Sports Action Photographer Reinvented Himself as a Philanthropist". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2021.
  9. ^ "Awards Banquet Draws the 'Giants of Endeavor'" (PDF). Salt Lake Tribune. June 24, 1979.
  10. ^ Williams, Janet M. (July 19, 1990). "Local teen rubs elbows with nation's leaders at dinner". Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
  11. ^ a b c Plaisance, Patrick Lee (June 3, 1995). "Celebrities, Top Students Gather in CW". Newport News Daily Press.
  12. ^ a b Montgomery, David (April 9, 2002). "D.C. philanthropists Catherine and Wayne Reynolds pledge millions". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2021.
  13. ^ Schudel, Matt (June 5, 2005). "Brian Blaine Reynolds, Also Known as Hy Peskin, Dies". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2021.
  14. ^ a b Schudel, Matt (June 5, 2005). "Brian Blaine Reynolds, Also Known as Hy Peskin, Dies; Accomplished Sports Photographer Founded Academy of Achievement". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015.
  15. ^ a b Montgomery, David (April 4, 2009). "D.C. philanthropists Catherine and Wayne Reynolds pledge millions". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015.
  16. ^ Boyle, Katherine (March 29, 2013). "Wayne Reynolds makes a lavish push for a bold plan for the Corcoran". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on April 9, 2013.
  17. ^ Paley, Amit R.; Strauss, Valerie (July 16, 2007). "Student Loan Nonprofit a Boon for CEO". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011.
  18. ^ Feloni, Richard. "Google cofounder Sergey Brin says these 2 books most influenced him". Business Insider. Retrieved 2020.
  19. ^ Statt, Nick (December 4, 2019). "THE RISE, DISAPPEARANCE, AND RETIREMENT OF GOOGLE CO-FOUNDERS LARRY PAGE AND SERGEY BRIN". The Verge. Retrieved 2021.
  20. ^ Journal, Rachel Emma Silverman Staff Reporter of The Wall Street. "The Glitziest Gathering Nobody Knows: Academy Honors Students and Celebrities". WSJ. Retrieved 2017.
  21. ^ a b "Dazzling Decorations, Fine Food: Golden Plate Planned for 1962: First Annual Event Wins High Praise". Monterey Peninsula Herald. September 11, 1961.
  22. ^ a b "Banquet will honor 50 for Achievement". The Milwaukee Sentinel. September 7, 1961.
  23. ^ "Achievement Awards Dinner Set". Oakland Tribune. July 12, 1961.
  24. ^ Pellesen, Gayle (June 27, 1977). "Golden Platers". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020.
  25. ^ Roig-Franzia, Manuel (October 28, 2012). "'Achievement summit' brings intellectual rebels together in D.C." Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020.
  26. ^ Weekes, Julia Ann. "Folk icon Judy Collins postpones NH show amid coronovirus pandemic but schedules a return: "It's not going to last forever'". Retrieved 2020.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "Our History". American Academy of Achievement. Retrieved 2021.
  28. ^ a b Gutierrez, Bridget (May 5, 2001). "Generation's excellence draws a four-star salute". San Antonio Express-News.
  29. ^ a b Salibian, Sandra (October 18, 2017). "Valentino Garavani to Be Honored With American Academy of Achievement Award". Women's Wear Daily. Retrieved 2021.
  30. ^ Feloni, Richard (February 24, 2016). "Google cofounder Sergey Brin says these 2 books most influenced him". Business Insider. Retrieved 2021.
  31. ^ Oermann, Robert K. (July 13, 1986). "Awards queen Loretta Lynn mines more golden memories". The Tennessean.
  32. ^ Morrison, Jane Ann (June 29, 1992). "Academy honors achievers". Las Vegas Review Journal.
  33. ^ "William H. Gates III". American Academy of Achievement. Retrieved 2021.
  34. ^ Wade, Larry (July 14, 1983). "American Academy of Achievement fills Coronado with famous names". Coronado Journal.
  35. ^ Perez, Robert (May 30, 1991). "Teen to Meet the Rich and Famous". Orlando Sentinel.
  36. ^ a b Hendrickson, Paul (July 13, 1982). "Getting Along Famously". The Washington Post.
  37. ^ a b Roig-Franzia, Manuel (October 28, 2012). "'Achievement summit' brings intellectual rebels together in D.C." The Washington Post. Retrieved 2021.
  38. ^ a b Bailey, Susan (July 3, 1996). "The Achievers". Idaho Mountain Express.
  39. ^ Shocket, Kathy Shayna (June 19, 2000). "Students, celebs mix at Achievers Party". Arizona Republic.
  40. ^ "John Wayne Honored". The Dallas Morning News. June 25, 1970.

External links

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