John William Gardner


Biography of John William Gardner

John William Gardner, (October 8, 1912–February 16, 2002) was Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Lyndon Johnson. During World War II he served in the United States Marine Corps as a captain. In 1955 he became president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and, concurrently, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He was also the founder of two influential national U.S. organizations: Common Cause and Independent Sector. He authored books on improving leadership in American society and other subjects. He was also the founder of two prestigious fellowship programs, The White House Fellowship and The John Gardner Fellowship at Stanford University and U.C. Berkeley. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. In 1966 Gardner was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.

Gardner's term as Secretary of HEW was at the height of Johnson's Great Society domestic agenda. During this tenure, the Department undertook both the huge task of launching Medicare, which brought quality health care to senior citizens, and oversaw significant expansions of the landmark Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 that redefined the federal role in education and targeted funding to poor students. Gardner was featured on the cover and in an article of the January 20, 1967 Time magazine, and later that year also presided over the creation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 1970, Gardner created Common Cause. He also founded the Experience Corps.

Gardner resigned as head of HEW because he could not support the war in Vietnam.

In September 2000, Gardner lent his name and support to the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities at Stanford, a center that partners with communities to develop leadership, conduct research, and effect change to improve the lives of youth.

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