William C. Ford, Jr.
Distinguished Business Leadership Award
Bill Ford is leading the company that put the world on wheels into the twenty-first century. By birth and by choice he is a car guy.
He joined Ford Motor Company in 1979, became a member of the Board of Directors in 1988, and has been its chairman since 1999. Throughout his career he has emphasized the importance of improving people’s lives and serving society. A pioneering environmentalist, in 2000 he led efforts to publish Ford’s first sustainability report outlining the company’s environmental and social impact. In 2005 he launched the Ford Volunteer Corps to encourage employee volunteers around the world to serve their communities.
With an eye toward the future, in 2009 he co-founded Fontinalis Partners, a venture capital company that invests in non-automotive mobility solutions. And in 2011 he gave a landmark TED talk that overturned a century of conventional wisdom in the auto industry when he told the audience and the world that the goal of having everyone own a car was no longer a good idea and called for smart mobility instead.
In a role that he says helped him envision how Silicon Valley and the Motor City could learn from each other, he served on the Board of Directors of eBay Inc., from 2005 to 2015. Closer to home, he serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of The Henry Ford and the Henry Ford Health System, and chairman of the New Michigan Initiative of Business Leaders for Michigan.
For more than three decades he has looked to the future, challenged the status quo, and urged his company and others to do the right thing.