John D. Podesta

John D. Podesta

From October 1998 to January 2001, John Podesta served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. During that time, he helped pave the way for the veto of the “official secrets act,” which sought to criminalize the disclosure of classified information and effectively stifle public discussion on a wide range of foreign-policy issues.

Podesta began his work in the administration in 1993 as staff secretary. During his two years in that position, he negotiated the issuance of Executive Order No. 12958, which installed mechanisms to encourage agencies to declassify more national-security information. Podesta’s work to promote honest, open government led to his appointment to the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, chaired by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y. The first commission to examine government secrecy in 40 years, the group’s final report in 1997 issued comprehensive recommendations to both the legislative and executive branches on ways to reduce secrecy and promote an informed public.

Today, Podesta continues to champion open, accountable government. He is a visiting professor of law at Georgetown University Law School and president of the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank he founded in 2003.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.