Next 10 Leaders

Mayor Michael B. Coleman

Mayor Michael B. Coleman was elected in 1999, and was re-elected to a third term in November 2007.

Mayor Coleman's core focus has been building stronger, safer neighborhoods, through a variety of initiatives, including the increased construction of quality, affordable homes for families. The mayor helped spur construction through city incentives of more than 12,500 new housing units in Columbus neighborhoods.

Mayor Coleman has also focused on quality-of-life initiatives through innovative programs like Neighborhood Pride, a proactive effort to engage residents and businesses as partners in fix up thousands of homes and clean up their neighborhoods. In 2006, the Mayor created the Home Again program and set aside $25 million to acquire, rehab and tear down vacant and abandoned houses in Columbus neighborhoods. To date, more than 600 homes have been impacted.

Since 2000, Mayor Coleman has leveraged incentives to create and retain tens of thousands of jobs and bring more than $3 billion in private investment to Columbus. Growing companies enjoy an educated workforce from 18 regional colleges and universities. Columbus is centrally located to national markets and a growing transportation, distribution and logistics hub. The city, currently the 15th largest in America, is also growing as a retail hub.

Mayor Coleman is committed to improving the quality of life for families in Columbus' neighborhoods. Since taking office in 2000, the Mayor has leveraged incentives to create and retain more than 30,000 jobs at companies like NetJets, a growing international powerhouse in the aviation Industry. Working with businesses and community groups he has increased the development of new homes for families, spurring construction through city incentives of more than 12,500 new housing units. This includes the work of the Columbus Franklin County Affordable Housing Trust Corporation and units in the Neighborhood Investment Districts, which Coleman created to leverage private investment in building quality, affordable housing. In addition, Mayor Coleman has led the restoration of the King Lincoln District after decades of neglect and blight, around the restoration of the historic Lincoln Theater. The area is rebounding with seven major commercial and residential projects totaling $30 million in new private investments.

Mayor Coleman worked with business leaders to start a massive revitalization initiative for Downtown, including the creation of the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation in 2002 with the responsibility of implementing the city's Downtown Business Plan. Since 2002 more than 5,000 new apartments and condos have been built or are under development; a new downtown park system is being designed; 2,900 jobs have been moved into downtown, and there has been more than $2.18 billion in new investment.

Mayor Coleman has a proven record of balancing budgets, and Columbus is one of the only major cities in the nation to maintain a AAA Bond rating from all three Rating Agencies. Since 2000, Mayor Coleman has spent almost $70 million less than budgeted. In that time, the city has also reduced its civilian workforce by 30 percent. Since 2001, Columbus has cut $155 million from what would have been spent in a continuation budget. In partnership with City Council, Auditor Hugh Dorrian and other elected officials, Mayor Coleman has begun the implementation of a 10-year reform plan that will save at least $100 million in the next decade by reducing employee benefits and unnecessary overtime while increasing the use of technology and energy efficiency.

Under Mayor Coleman's leadership, the City of Columbus has been recognized as the nation's 8th best place to live by CNN and Money magazine, which also declared Columbus as the nation's safest big city. Forbes Magazine has recognized Columbus as the top up-and-coming tech city and the top city in which to retire. Columbus regularly makes top rankings as a hot destination for relocation of businesses: In December of 2008 it was ranked as the 7th best metro area for business by WSJ MarketWatch; in June 2008 it was ranked the 7th best city for high-impact companies by the U.S. Small Business Administration; it was ranked as the 3rd "Big City of the Future" by international fDi Magazine and the 4th "most business friendly." In addition, Columbus continues to earn top rankings for its stable housing market, affordability, and as a top City for African-Americans, young professionals, and members of the GLBT community.

Prior to becoming mayor, Coleman served as President of Columbus City Council from January of 1997 to November of 1999, and as a council member from February of 1992 to December of 1999. Michael Coleman graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1977 with a degree in Political Science. He earned his law degree from the University of Dayton Law School in 1980. Michael B. Coleman was born on November 18, 1954; He has three children: Kimberly, a private banker in Chicago, Justin, a Columbus police Officer, and John-David, a Sergeant in the US Marine Corps.

E. Gordon Gee

E. Gordon Gee, among the most highly experienced and respected university presidents in the nation, returned to The Ohio State University after having served as Chancellor of Vanderbilt University for seven years.

Prior to his tenure at Vanderbilt, he was president of Brown University (1998-2000), The Ohio State University (1990-97), the University of Colorado (1985-90), and West Virginia University (1981-85).

Born in Vernal, Utah, Gee graduated from the University of Utah with an honors degree in history and earned his J.D. and Ed.D degrees from Columbia University. He clerked under Chief Justice David T. Lewis of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals before being named a judicial fellow and staff assistant to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he worked for Chief Justice Warren Burger on administrative and legal problems of the Court and federal judiciary. Gee returned to Utah as an associate professor and associate dean in the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, eventually achieving the rank of full professor. In 1979 he was named dean of the West Virginia University Law School, and in 1981 was appointed to that university's presidency.

Active in a number of national professional and service organizations, Gee served as a Trustee for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation and as chairman of the Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land Grant Universities. He is a member of the National Commission on Writing for America's Families, Schools, and Colleges, founded by the College Board to improve the teaching and learning of writing. He also serves as co-chair of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities' Energy Advisory Committee.

Gee is a member of the Board of Governors of the National Hospice Foundation, the Advisory Board of the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, and the Board of Trustees of the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, an independent Federal government agency established to "encourage and support research, study and labor designed to produce new discoveries in all fields of endeavor for the benefit of mankind." He also is a member of the Business-Higher Education Forum.

Gee has received a number of honorary degrees, awards, and recognitions. He was a Mellon Fellow for the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies and a W.K. Kellogg Fellow. In 1994, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Utah as well as from Teachers College of Columbia University. He is the co-author of eight books and the author of numerous papers and articles on law and education.

Gee's daughter, Rebekah, is an assistant professor of clinical medicine in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Tulane University and a Norman F. Gant/American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology/IOM Anniversary Fellow.

John Glenn

John H. Glenn was born on July 18, 1921, in Cambridge, Ohio. During his early childhood, the family moved to New Concord, Ohio, where Glenn attended primary and secondary school. Following graduation from New Concord High School, Glenn enrolled in Muskingum College and began flying lessons at the New Philadelphia airport, earning his pilot's license in 1941. Following Pearl Harbor, he left college and enlisted in the Naval Aviation Cadet Program. He was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1943. Glenn was awarded a bachelor of science in engineering from Muskingum in 1962.

During his World War II service, Glenn flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific. Following the war, he remained in the military as a Marine pilot and served as an instructor in advanced flight training. During the Korean conflict, he flew 63 missions with Marine Fighter Squadron 311 and 27 missions as an exchange pilot with the Air Force.

He holds the Air Medal with 18 Clusters for his combat service and has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on six occasions. He is the recipient of numerous other honors, including the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

In 1954, Glenn won an assignment as a Marine test pilot and, in 1957, set a transcontinental speed record for the first flight to average supersonic speeds from Los Angeles to New York. In 1959, he was selected to be one of seven NASA Mercury astronauts from an original pool of 508. Three years later, on February 20, 1962, he made history as the first American to orbit the earth, completing three orbits in a five-hour flight and returning to a hero's welcome.

Glenn retired from the Marine Corps as a colonel in 1965, becoming a business executive with Royal Crown and serving first as a member of the board of directors and then as president of Royal Crown International. During this time, he took an active part in Democratic politics and early environmental protection efforts in Ohio.

In 1974, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, carrying all 88 counties in Ohio. He was reelected in 1980 with the largest margin of votes in Ohio history. Ohioans returned him to the Senate for the third time in 1986, and, in 1992, he again made history by being the first popularly elected senator from Ohio to win four consecutive terms. He retired from the Senate at the end of his term in January 1999.

Glenn returned to space from Oct. 29 to Nov. 7, 1998, as a member of NASA's Shuttle STS-95 Discovery mission during which the crew supported 83 research payloads and investigations on space flight and aging. He is the oldest person to have flown in space. During that mission, Glenn made 134 Earth orbits in 213 hours and 44 minutes.

In October 1997, Glenn announced that his papers, documenting his full career, would be archived at The Ohio State University. In September 1998, Ohio State announced the establishment of the John Glenn Institute for Public Service and Public Policy at the university and in July of 2006, the Institute merged with Ohio State's School of Public Policy & Management to form the John Glenn School of Public Affairs. Glenn has been married to Anna (Annie) Margaret Castor since 1943. They have a son, Dave, and a daughter, Lyn, and two grandchildren.

Donna James

Donna James is the managing director of Lardon & Associates LLC., and a corporate director for several public companies including three Fortune 500 companies.

In addition to her corporate governance expertise, Donna has over 25 years of diverse management and leadership experience at highest corporate levels. She is a trusted resource and advisor for senior business leaders on issues related to governance, new business development, strategy, financial and risk management, and leadership development.

Donna serves on the board of directors for Coca-Cola Enterprises, Conseco Inc, Limitedbrands, Time Warner Cable, and previously Intimate Brands. This includes assignments on the audit, governance, affiliated transaction, compensation, and special committees. She currently chairs the audit committee for Limitedbrands and Coca-Cola Enterprises, and previously chaired the special committee for Intimate Brands recombination with Limitedbrands.

As a corporate executive, she retired as President of Nationwide Strategic Investments, a division of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. As President, she had direct responsibility for rationalizing and executing growth or exit strategies for five different U.S and global based financial services subsidiaries and affiliates. She also led a new business innovation team and a venture capital fund with responsibility for discovering, analyzing, and commercializing emerging opportunities in financial services. Prior to this assignment, she was an Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, for Nationwide Mutual and its public company subsidiary, Nationwide Financial. In this capacity she had global responsibility for a broad range of corporate services including - human capital management, corporate real estate, procurement, shared services, corporate security, technology, public relations, advertising, brand management, and aviation. A formal education and beginning as an accounting professional with PricewaterhouseCoopers provided the foundation for her effectiveness in both business and community endeavors.

In her community, Donna is the founder and chair of the Center for Healthy Families, a non-profit focused on transforming the lives of pregnant and parenting teens and their children. She is also a board trustee for the Ohio Health (hospital system); and Executive Director for the African American Leadership Academy. Past community roles include: The Health Policy Institute of Ohio; The Women's Fund of Central Ohio; United Way of America Board of Governors; Bennett College for Women Board of Trustees; chair of the YWCA of Columbus; I Know I Can Board of Trustees; Nationwide Federal Credit Union; and the Wexner Center for the Arts.

She has received several recognitions including - Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame in 2008; the National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Hall of Fame in 2007; named in 2005 by Black Enterprise Magazine as one of the top 75 in Corporate America; received the national Beta Gamma Sigma Business Achievement Award; recipient of an honorary doctorate from Tiffin University, and the YWCA Women of Achievement Award.

Donna is the wife of attorney Larry James, partner with Crabbe, Brown, & James in Columbus, Ohio. They have two adult children, Christopher and Justin, and five grandchildren.

Jeffrey Wadsworth

Jeffrey Wadsworth is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Battelle.

Wadsworth possesses an admirable combination of commercialization experience and scientific expertise. He began his career at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in 1980 where he directed research activity and funding for the Metallurgy division.

He joined Battelle in 2002 after 10 years of senior leadership responsibilities at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. During his tenure as Deputy Director for Science and Technology, he significantly increased interactions and collaborations with industry. During his Battelle career, he led a period of rapid growth as Laboratory Director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he presided over the Lab's emergence as the world's leader in neutron science, nanoscience, and high-performance computing.

Most recently, in addition to managing Battelle's global lab business, he also has been on the advisory board of Battelle Ventures and managed Battelle's overall S&T investments. Wadsworth holds B.Met., Ph.D, D. Met., and D. Eng. (honorary) degrees from Sheffield University. He has been elected a Fellow of three societies. In 2005 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in recognition of his scientific contributions to their literature and for scientific leadership supporting national security.

Battelle is the world's largest non-profit independent research and development organization, providing innovative solutions to the world's most pressing needs through its four global businesses: Laboratory Management, National Security, Energy Technology, and Health and Life Sciences. It advances scientific discovery and application by conducting $4 billion in global R&D annually through contract research, laboratory management and technology commercialization. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Battelle oversees 20,400 employees in more than 120 locations worldwide, including seven national laboratories which Battelle manages or co-manages for the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Battelle also is one of the nation's leading charitable trusts focusing on societal and economic impact and actively supporting and promoting science and math education.

Les Wexner

Leslie H. Wexner, Founder of Limited Brands, started the company in Columbus, Ohio in 1963 with one store and first year sales of $160,000.

Mr. Wexner serves as Chairman, President and CEO of Limited Brands, which operates 3,015 stores including Victoria's Secret, Pink, Bath & Body Works, C.O. Bigelow, La Senza, White Barn Candle Co. and Henri Bendel. The company's products are also available online at,, and Sales for Limited Brands in 2008 were $9 billion.

His areas of community interest include the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University; the Wexner Institute for Pediatric Research at Children's Hospital, Columbus; the Martin Luther King Center for the Performing Arts, Columbus; and the Wexner Heritage Village. Mr. Wexner was a recipient of The Alexis de Tocqueville Society Award of the United Way of America, Woodrow Wilson Award for Citizenship, Ordre des arts et des letters, Knight of the Italian Republic and The American Jewish Committee Herbert H. Lehman Centennial Leadership Award. He was a founding member and the first chair of The Ohio State University Foundation.

Mr. Wexner is a Trustee, The Ohio State University Board of Trustees; Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Member of the Visiting Committee of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; Trustee of the Columbus Jewish Federation and Foundation; Member of the Royal Shakespeare Company International Council; Member of the John Glenn School of Public Affairs; and Chairman of The Columbus Partnership.

Mr. Wexner has a profound interest in the development of tomorrow's leaders through the works of the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University; Harvard University's Center for Public Leadership; and The Wexner Foundation.

Mr. Wexner holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration from The Ohio State University and honorary degrees from The Ohio State University; The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; University of Tel Aviv; Hofstra University; Marietta College; Hebrew Union College; The Jewish Theological Seminary of America; Yeshiva University; and Brandeis University. Mr. Wexner was inaugurated by Harvard University into the Society of John Harvard Fellows, and serves as a visiting lecturer at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Mr. Wexner and his wife, Abigail, are the parents of four children.

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