The Honorable John T. McNabb II, Energy and Investment Executive,  to Receive 2024 Horatio Alger Award

The Horatio Alger Association names 11 outstanding individuals, each of whom has overcome adversity to achieve professional and personal success, to its Member Class of 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 6, 2024) – 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 the Honorable John T. McNabb II, former lead director of Continental Resources; former co-founder, chairman and CEO of Growth Capital Partners; and former chairman and CEO of Willbros Group,has been selected for membership in this prestigious organization. Mr. McNabb joins 10 other exceptional business, civic and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2024 honors. For more than 75 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 efforts in their communities.  

Mr. McNabb was born in Charleston, West Virginia and grew up in the coal country of the state. Tragically, 18 of his relatives perished in coal mine accidents. While in middle and high school, Mr. McNabb spent his summers working in a meat processing plant and later became the first in his family to attend college when he received a scholarship to play football at Duke University. There, he was named to all-Atlantic Coast Conference and two All-American teams and eventually earned his bachelor’s degree. After graduation, he volunteered to join the United States Air Force. He served two combat flying tours in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Mr. McNabb returned to the United States and re-enrolled at Duke, where he earned an MBA in finance. 

Mr. McNabb entered the workforce and began his 40-year career in the energy sector, starting in the exploration and production division of Mobil Oil. In 1992, he co-founded Growth Capital Partners, a merchant banking firm. After he sold the business, he went on to be vice chairman of Duff and Phelps’ worldwide investment banking business and later served as chairman and CEO of Willbros Group, one of the world’s largest energy contractors. He has sat on eight public company boards, most recently with Continental Resources, one of America’s top 10 domestic oil producers, where he helped guide the company to its impressive success over the past two decades. 

“A native of the coal country of West Virgina, Mr. McNabb’s receipt of an athletic scholarship changed the trajectory of his life,” said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director, Horatio Alger Association. “He understands the value of a college degree, and has dedicated much time and treasure to advancing educational causes and investing in promising, at-risk children. The Association’s mission closely aligns with his personal approach to philanthropy, and we look forward to welcoming him as a lifetime Member in April.” 

Mr. McNabb and his wife, Darlene, have focused their philanthropy on educating at-risk children and funding faith-based educational entities. Currently, Mr. McNabb is serving a five-year term on the Council of the United States Holocaust Memorial in Washington, D.C. He also sits on the advisory board of the Hamm Institute for American Energy, an affiliate of Oklahoma State University that is committed to solving the world’s energy needs. He also is an emeritus member of the Board of Visitors of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. In total, he has served on more than 50 private and nonprofit board of directors. In 2021, Mr. McNabb authored an autobiography titled, “A Nice Ride: Stories of America,” which includes the histories of great leaders, many of whom were his ancestors.  

“Receiving the Horatio Alger Award is one of the greatest and most humbling honors of my life,” said Mr. McNabb. “I believe deeply in the power of the American Dream and, like the Association, feel like with hard work and determination, we can conquer any obstacle in our path. The work the Association does to support deserving young people as they pursue their dreams is critically important, and I look forward to being a part of it.” 

2024 marks the 40th year that the Association has awarded annual need-based scholarships to high school students who have displayed dedication to pursuing higher education despite significant obstacles throughout their lives.  The Association, which aims to preserve and protect the American Dream for future generations, also seeks to educate young people about the endless opportunities available by the free-enterprise system through commitment, honesty, and diligence. The scholarships are made possible thanks to the generosity of Horatio Alger Members, who will have collectively provided more than $245 million to over 35,000 students. 

“It is our utmost honor to present the Horatio Alger Award to these 11 outstanding leaders who have exemplified perseverance, passion and a deep appreciation for higher education,” said James F. Dicke II, chairman, Horatio Alger Association and 2015 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “These influential leaders not only spearhead their own businesses, but they give generously to causes, organizations and communities in need. Our 2024 awardees embody the Association’s mission and are proof that the American Dream is within reach for anyone who seeks it.” 

Mr. McNabb and the Member Class of 2024 will be formally inducted into the Association on April 4-6, 2024, during the Association’s annual Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The three-day event is an annual ceremony to honor both the achievements of Members and National Scholars, who will have multiple opportunities to meet, interact and exchange stories of perseverance.  


For more information about Horatio Alger Association and its Member Class of 2024, please visit www.horatioalger.organdfollow the organization on Facebook, X, LinkedIn and Instagram.  




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 2023, the Association awarded more than $18 million in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships to 1,800 students across the United States and Canada, and provided college support and mentoring services to its Scholars. Over the past 40 years, more than $245 million has been awarded in undergraduate, graduate, military veteran and career and technical education scholarships to more than 35,000 deserving students. For more information, please visit