December 11, 2018

Carly Buggy
484-385-2934 (office)
[email protected]

John J. Haley, Chief Executive Officer of Willis Towers Watson to Receive 2019 Horatio Alger Award 

Horatio Alger Association names 13 outstanding individuals, each of whom has overcome adversity to achieve professional and personal success, to its New Member Class of 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 11, 2018) – Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, today announced that John J. Haley, chief executive officer, Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW)has been selected for membership in this prestigious organization. Mr. Haley joins 12 other exceptional business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2019 honors. For more than 70 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite facing adversities, and who have remained committed to higher education and charitable endeavors throughout their lives.

Born in a lower-middle class neighborhood in Pennsylvania, Mr. Haley is the oldest of five children. Although his family’s finances were tight, he was the first in his family to pursue higher education, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation to attend Rutgers College in New Jersey. He funded the rest of his tuition on his own, working various jobs while managing a full course load – even playing poker to earn money. During his senior year, he was named a Henry Rutgers Scholar, one of only two students chosen per major in the School of Arts and Sciences, recognizing Mr. Haley’s outstanding work ethic. He graduated in 1973 with his mathematics degree and later completed a two-year fellowship at Yale University’s Graduate School of Mathematics.

Following graduation, Mr. Haley planned to become a math professor, but his path quickly changed when he began working at Prudential Insurance. He spent several years there as a life and health insurance actuary and developed a passion for the industry. In 1977, he joined what was then The Wyatt Company and began a four-decade career at the company. For 20 years, he served as the lead consulting actuary and relationship manager to several of the firm’s largest and most prestigious clients, including General Motors, General Electric and IBM. In 1998, Mr. Haley was named chief executive officer of Watson Wyatt Worldwide, and under his leadership, the company went public and completed three historic mergers that formed present-day Willis Towers Watson. Today Willis Towers Watson has more than 43,000 employees serving clients in more than 140 countries. The company, under Mr. Haley’s leadership, has transformed from a small specialty consulting firm with less than $200 million in value to a company ranked in the Forbes Global 1000 with a market cap of $20 billion.

“I’m always inspired by not only the tremendous professional success of each Horatio Alger Award recipient, but even more so by their quality of character,” said Matthew Rose, president, Horatio Alger Association and 2013 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “It’s a unique gift to be able to lead with humility, understanding and empathy, which are all characteristics exemplified by John. His business acumen and innate desire to uplift others are admirable qualities, and we are proud to welcome him as part of the Member class of 2019.”

Outside of his career with Willis Towers Watson, Mr. Haley serves on the board of directors of MAXIMUS, the U.S.-China Business Council and the Miami Cancer Institute. He is also a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and the Conference of Consulting Actuaries, and has served as a trustee for The Actuarial Foundation. Inspired by his passion for helping others, Willis Tower Watson has partnered with Specialisterne, a charitable organization that helps create jobs for high-functioning people with autism, and AHRC, a family-governed organization committed to supporting individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.

“I believe that if you’re going to do something, go big,” said Mr. Haley. “It’s the way I’ve approached everything in my life – from my education to my career to my board involvement and beyond. I’m humbled to join an organization with Members who commit themselves to the important mission of supporting our nation’s next generation of great leaders. I look forward to working with our Scholars to help them ‘go big’ in pursuit of their own dreams.”  

Through its Members, Horatio Alger Association aims to educate young people about the limitless opportunities afforded to them by the free-enterprise system. To further this mission, the organization awards scholarships to outstanding high school students who are committed to pursuing higher education and giving back to their communities. Like Association Members, Horatio Alger Scholars have faced significant adversities, but have also displayed unmatched resilience in overcoming their challenges. Since the scholarship program was established in 1984, Horatio Alger Association has provided more than $159 million to students in need, all of which has been funded solely through the generosity of Association Members and friends.

“For the past two decades, Mr. Haley has been an outstanding role model to many,” said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director, Horatio Alger Association. “His ability to lead selflessly and motivate people make him a wonderful addition to our organization. It is our honor to celebrate his many accomplishments by inducting him as a lifetime Member this spring.”

Mr. Haley and the Member Class of 2019 will be formally inducted into the Association on April 4-6, 2019, during the Association’s 72nd Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The annual three-day event honors the achievements of both Members and National Scholars, affording both groups the opportunity to meet and interact as well as exchange stories of hardships and triumphs.

For more information about Horatio Alger Association and its Member Class of 2019, please visit and/or follow the organization on FacebookTwitter and Instagram using the hashtag #HoratioAlgerAward.


About Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans:

Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. The Association honors the achievements of outstanding leaders who have accomplished remarkable successes in spite of adversity by bestowing upon them the Horatio Alger Award and inducting them as lifetime Members. Horatio Alger Members support promising young people with the resources and confidence needed to overcome adversity in pursuit of their dreams through higher education. Through the generosity of its Members and friends, in 2018, the Association awarded more than $16 million in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships across the United States and Canada, and also provided college support and mentoring services to its Scholars. Since 1984, the Association has awarded more than $159 million in college scholarships to more than 25,000 deserving young people. For more information, please visit