ICYMI: The 50 Most Influential Leaders

“Remember, no human condition is ever permanent. Then you will not be overjoyed in good fortune nor too scornful in misfortune.” Socrates’ advice on the human condition can easily be the motto for the charitable sector and for the superstar executives who understand the concept and are honored as the sector’s most powerful and influential of the past 12 months.

In one week alone, equity ruled the day with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions on same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act. It was change about which the overjoyed far exceeded the scornful. The honorees for 2015 were the lightning rods for those victories and for many others.

Those selected for inclusion in this year’s The NonProfit Times Power & Influence Top 50 exemplify the words of Spanish philosopher and essayist Jose Ortega y Gasst who wrote: “Living is a constant process of deciding what we are going to do.” The executives on this 18th annual spotlight made decisions every day that changed lives for the better and for which we should be overjoyed.

These nonprofit innovators exemplify what happens when people stand firmly for inclusion and equal rights, whether it is in healthcare, public policy, education or opportunity for all. They provided new methods for delivering ideas and used persuasion to get it done.

The honorees were selected from a group of roughly 300 top executives. A committee of NPT staff, contributors and a few executives plugged in to executive movement were involved in the selection process. This is not a lifetime achievement award. The executive must have had an impact during the previous 12 months. There is quite a bit of turnover in this catalog of the sector’s big brains. There are 19 new honorees on the 2015 honor roll and seven executives who are returning to the list after coming up with some new ideas that are moving the charitable needle.

The honorees and their guests will be feted in Washington, D.C., next month during the annual NPT Power & Influence Top 50 Gala at The National Press Club. One of the honorees will receive the NPT Innovator of the Year award. The evening always involves conversation between people who would not normally have the opportunity to interact.

Historian and Pulitzer Prize winner Wallace Stegner wrote in Angle of Repose that “Civilizations grow by agreements and accommodations and accretions, not by repudia­tions. The rebels and the revolutionaries are only eddies, they keep the stream from getting stagnant but they get swept down and absorbed, they’re a side issue.”

Stegner also wrote that “civilizations grow and change and decline — they aren’t remade.” This group of executives is proving Stegner wrong on that point. This nation can be remade into a more perfect union and these executives are leading the way.

Here are your 2015 Power & Influence Top 50