Prof. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld Receives Ellis Island Medal of Honor

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Yale SOM’s senior associate dean for leadership studies and Lester Crown Professor in the Practice of Management, received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor at a gala ceremony at the Ellis Island Museum on May 12.

The award, presented by the Ellis Island Foundation, recognizes “a select group of individuals whose accomplishments in their field and inspired service to our nation are cause for celebration… The Ellis Island Medals of Honor embody the spirit of America in their salute to tolerance, brotherhood, diversity and patriotism. Honorees may be native-born or naturalized, but most importantly, they are individuals who have made it their mission to share their wealth of knowledge, indomitable courage, boundless compassion, unique talents, and selfless generosity with those less fortunate.”

Sonnenfeld, whose mother, Rochelle Galant, entered the United States at Ellis Island as a four-year-old refugee from Russia in 1918, is the founder and president of the Chief Executive Leadership Institute (CELI), a nonprofit educational and research institute focused on CEO leadership and corporate governance. CELI hosts regular events bringing together top business, government, and nonprofit leaders to discuss pressing issues. He is the author of eight books, including The Hero’s Farewell, an award-winning study of CEO succession, and Firing Back, a bestselling study on leadership resilience in the face of adversity.

Other recipients of the 2018 Ellis Island Medal of Honor included investor Philip Anschutz; Kay Buck, CEO of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking; Farooq Kathwari, chairman, president, and CEO of Ethan Allen Interiors; John W. Jackson, former CEO of Celgene Corp.; Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University; inventor Dean Kamen; General Joseph Lengyel, 28th chief of the U.S. National Guard Bureau and member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Khalsa, chief religious minister of Sikh Dharma International; Terence Monahan, chief of department, New York City Police Department; actress Rita Moreno; and Admiral Michael Rogers, director of the U.S. National Security Agency.