Excellence Hall of Fame – Don Haider

Don Haider, Photo courtesy of Northwestern University

“I have known and admired Don Haider for 40 years. Don has enthusiastically guided our Kellogg School of Management students in managing non-profit organizations and government agencies. At one time, he even ran for office to be Chicago’s mayor. I am delighted to hear that he has been elected by the Fellows of the Business Excellent Institute to be inducted in its Excellence Hall of Fame. He is most deserving of this distinction.”
Philip Kotler Professor of International Marketing, Kellogg School of Management


“Don is such an outstanding human being that it is tough to come up with some words without going into the superlative. I have known Don almost 50 years. During these years while he lived and built a family in Chicago and career at Northwestern University, we remained as close friends as we were in the 1960s and 70s as rugby players in New York. Don is talent, brilliance, humanity and humor in one special leadership package.”
Jon Prusmack Chief Executive, United World Sports & USA7s Rugby

Inducted 2017

Don Haider


Don grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago. He earned his BA in Political Science from Stanford University in 1964 where he also played football and rugby. He went on to play rugby for another forty years with teams in New York, Washington D.C., and Chicago and was selected for several U.S. international sides along the way. He received his MA (1966) and PhD (1972) in Political Science from Columbia University before embarking on a career that would span the public, private and non-profit sectors. In 1968, he married Jean Wright of Winnetka, Illinois, and their moves would take them several times between Chicago and Washington.

While at Columbia, Don was named a Congressional Fellow (1967-68) and worked on Capitol Hill in the Office of Senator Edward Kennedy before later joining the prestigious Brookings Institution as a Guest Scholar. While with the Brookings Institution, Don completed his work, When Governments Comes To Washington, a book that has since won the Martha Derthick Best Book Award in political science on the topic of American Federalism. (The award is reserved for books that have made a lasting contribution and is only awarded to books that have proven this contribution for at least a decade.)

In 1973, Don stopped teaching at Columbia University to join the faculty at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University where he went on to teach as Professor of Strategy for over forty years, interrupted periodically by public service. In 1976-77, he was selected as a White House Fellow, serving in the Executive Office of the President – under Presidents Ford and Carter – where he worked for three Directors of the Office of Management & Budget. He remains the only academic ever named as both a Congressional Fellow and a White House Fellow.

Two years later, he again returned to Washington as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, assigned to refinance New York City which then teetered on bankruptcy. In 1979, Don returned to Chicago where he served as Chicago’s Budget Director and Chief Financial Officer (1979-80). Six years later, because he believed the “people deserved better” (ref: Chicago Tribune), he ran for Mayor of Chicago but was unsuccessful in his bid. Looking back on the election, the 2009 publication “Chicago : A Biography”, describes him as “a decent man with sound ideas”.

Having lost a hard fought campaign, he returned to Northwestern University, and has taught there since. Since the 1980s, he has written extensively for academic journals and for the media and has co-authored four books with Philip Kotler, the internationally acclaimed marketing professor, on Marketing Places (USA, Europe, Asia and Latin America ).

Don was instrumental in establishing Kellogg School’s Center for Nonprofit Management, which he served as the Director of until 2016, and is acknowledged as being integral to championing social impact and nonprofit management education during his 43-year tenure at Kellogg.

Don serves on the boards of Chicago’s Midtown Education Foundation, Chicago Catholic Charities, and the U.S. Rugby Foundation. He has previously served on the board of the Metropolitan Planning Council as well as the corporate boards of Asset Acceptance Capital Corp, Continental Waste Industries, Covenant Mutual Insurance, Evanston National Bank, Fender Musical Instruments, InterAccess, LaSalle National Bank Corp, National Can, Talman Home Savings, and Westchester Insurance. He also served for 15 years as the Vice-Chair of the Chicago School Finance Authority, which refinanced the then bankrupt Chicago public schools.

In March 2016, Don was elected a Fellow of the Business Excellence Institute. Later that year, Don and his wife, Jean, received the Chicago Midtown Education Foundation’s Reach for Excellence Award in recognition of their outstanding service to Chicago’s at-risk youth. In presenting the award, Glenn Wilke, the Foundation’s CEO, stated that “Don represents what we teach at our centers: virtue and character.”

Don retired from full-time teaching in late 2016, and was reappointed by the University in 2017 as an Emeritus Professor.

In recognition of his untiring pursuit of excellence in the management of non-profit and governmental organizations, his sincere commitment to public service and education, and of the work he has none helping a wide range or charities, foundations, and businesses, as well as to his contribution to the community in his native city, Don was nominated for inclusion in the Institute’s Excellence Hall of Fame and was elected unopposed by its Fellows in November 2016. He was inducted to the Excellence Hall of Fame on February 15, 2017, at a ceremony held in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin, Ireland.

While attending the ceremony in Ireland Don was interviewed by Newstalk Radio. You can listen to the Podcast of this interview here.