Former US Chamber CEO’s Visionary Leadership Supplied Springboard for Hiring Our Heroes’ Sustained Success

Thomas J. Donohue
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Hiring Our Heroes

Former U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue is a visionary.

“He was one of the very first leaders to recognize that 90% of military occupations are directly transferrable to the private sector,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne P. Clark. “It’s why he helped found Hiring Our Heroes. Tom did everything in his power to make sure those who served on the frontlines were at the front of the line for good jobs.”

Tom did everything in his power to make sure those who served on the frontlines were at the front of the line for good job.

Suzanne P. Clark, President & CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

On November 15, Donohue received the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 13th Annual Lee Anderson Hiring Our Heroes Awards Gala. The event, presented by Booz Allen Hamilton, took place at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

This year’s theme was “Commitment to Service,” which aligned seamlessly with Donohue’s guiding principle of “if you can help, you must,” said Hiring Our Heroes President Eric Eversole.

“The number of lives Tom has impacted is countless,” Eversole said. “Tom has been a role model to many of us. He has made us better leaders and, more importantly, better people.”

Hiring Our Heroes Honors Thomas J. Donohue with Lifetime Achievement Award

His Mission to Connect Veterans with the American Business Community

Donohue served as president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce from 1997 to 2019, the first person to hold both titles concurrently in the organization’s history. Now, he is an advisor to the organization and a member of its board of directors. 

During his tenure, Donohue reinvigorated the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which houses Hiring Our Heroes (HOH). Under Donohue’s leadership, HOH partnered with Capital One to launch the Hiring 500,000 Heroes campaign. Through this initiative, more than 2,000 businesses of all sizes and industries hired more than 500,000 veterans and military spouses.

“Tom has always had a special place in his heart for our military, and he made it his personal mission to connect veterans and military families with the American business community,” Clark said. “His passion and dedication are why Hiring Our Heroes has helped more than one million veterans and military spouses find jobs over the past 12 years.”

‘Resiliency. Work Ethic. Veterans Have It All’

During his remarks, Donohue spoke about the need for Hiring Our Heroes during its launch in 2011 and its continued relevancy for both military community job seekers and corporations in 2023.

“The most important challenge business leaders face right now is finding good people,” Donohue said. Military veterans are the “good people.”  

“Resiliency. Work ethic. Top-notch training. The ability to keep going under pressure. Veterans have it all in spades,” Donohue said.

Donohue outlined the current military recruitment challenges. He provided solutions for the U.S. Department of Defense and corporate America. He strongly emphasized how lucrative post-military employment opportunities may incentivize young Americans to serve in the Armed Forces.

“Hiring Our Heroes is a win-win-win. The veteran wins. The company wins. And you know, who else wins? The United States military and, therefore, the United States of America wins because we are creating a situation that makes it more attractive for young men and women to join the services of the United States,” Donohue said.

Additional 2023 Award Recipients

Along with the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement, Hiring Our Heroes recognized additional individuals and organizations committed to serving and supporting military veterans and their families.

Retired U.S. Army officer Tom Downs, principal and director of Diversity Talent Acquisition and Talent Pipeline Programs at Booz Allen, was selected from among four finalists for the Colonel Michael Endres Leadership Award for Individual Excellence in Veteran and Military Spouse Employment.

“I am humbled and honored to be recognized with this award by Hiring Our Heroes.  Veterans helping other veterans and military spouses is a true passion of mine,” Downs said.

Tom Downs

TransForce was recognized with the Lee Anderson Veteran and Military Spouse Employment Award for overall excellence in hiring and retaining veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses.

Prudential Financial presented Johnson & Johnson with the Steve Robinson Post-9/11 Veteran Employment Award.

Deloitte Consulting received the Military Spouse Employment and Mentoring Award, presented by USAA.

The Military Community Nonprofit Leadership Award, presented by Deloitte Consulting, was given to VetJobs and Military Spouse Jobs.

SteerBridge received the Capital One Small Business Award at this year’s gala.

Each year, Hiring Our Heroes recognizes the contributions of individuals and organizations at its annual awards gala. To see which companies and individuals were recognized with awards at past galas, visit the Lee Anderson Hiring Our Heroes Awards page.

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