Over 500 people are expected Monday, Dec. 5, at Ford’s Theatre for a first-of-its-kind leadership forum. Harvard’s Center of Public Leadership, in partnership with Washington Post Live, is awarding the 2011 Top American Leaders honors.

The just announced winners who will speak at the forum are:

Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey

Sheila Bair, the former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Jared Cohen, Director, Google Ideas

Freeman A. Hrabowski II, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Ahmed Zewail, Nobel Prize winner and professor of chemistry and physics at California Institute of Technology

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist

Michael M. Kaiser, president, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The winners, selected by a committee of experts from Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership, will speak about their experiences: risks taken, mistakes made, tales of making it to the top of their field. I am interested to hear if the winners from diverse fields – from a Nobel Prize winning scientist to the governor of New Jersey -- have similarities in work habits, leadership style, or guiding philosophy.

Not to worry if you didn’t get a ticket (they were snapped up immediately when the announcement was put in the Washington Post this week) --- we will stream the discussions live at washingtonpostlive.com The video highlights will also be posted there shortly after the forum.

We will be taking questions from the audience at the historic theatre, where President Lincoln was shot. Coincidentally, this is the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s inauguration and there has been much praise this year for his strong leadership during his difficult tenure when the country was at war with itself.