Arlington, Va. — Gen. Colin Powell, U.S. Army (ret.) and Alma Powell, the founding and current chairs of the America’s Promise Alliance, respectively were named the Policy Leaders of the Year by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). The honor is annually given to a national or state policymaker in recognition of their contributions to education.

“Few people in modern American life have been more closely associated with public service than the Powells,” said NASBE Executive Director Brenda Welburn. “After a long career in the military followed by service as Secretary of State, Colin Powell took on the challenge of helping America’s youth better prepared for work, college and life through the America’s Promise Alliance. Today, Alma Powell chairs the Alliance as it plays a leading role in exploring ways to increase the high school graduation rate and many more areas that benefit young people. For these efforts, NASBE is proud to present them as our Education Policy Leaders of the Year.”

From 1987–89 Gen. Powell was President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor. He was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989–93, and was not only the youngest officer and first ROTC graduate to ever serve in the position but also was the first African American to do so. He was Secretary of State from 2001-05. In addition to founding America’s Promise, Gen. Powell founded the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies at his alma mater, the City College of New York. The Center is student-focused with a mission to develop a new generation of publicly engaged leaders.

In addition to her fulfilling her role as chair of the America’s Promise Alliance, Alma Powell chairs the advisory board for Civic Change, Inc. and serves on the YouthBuild USA Advisory Board. In addition, 1989-2000, she served as the chairman of the National Council of the Best Friends Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of young girls.

Previous winners of NASBE’s Policy Leader of the Year Award include Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, South Carolina Gov. and Education Secretary Richard Riley, North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt, New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, former First Lady Barbara Bush, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, and Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson.

The Powells were recognized at NASBE’s national conference in Atlanta, GA on October 14.