Candace Lightner, Founder and President, We Save Lives and Founder, MADD



Candace Lightner, founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is recognized nationally and internationally as the moving force behind reshaping the nation's attitude toward drunk driving.

As MADD's Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman of the Board, Lightner masterminded MADD from a small California grass roots organization into an international corporation with more than 400 chapters worldwide and an annual budget of over 12 million dollars. Under her leadership, MADD’s membership base grew to more than two million. She managed a staff of more than fifty employees and thousands of volunteers.

Equally important, Lightner provided the solution-- vision, legislative strategy and consensus-building skills---necessary to move lawmakers into proactively changing the laws and saving lives. Ms. Lightner's political acumen led to the successful passage of more than 500 bills at the state and national levels, including legislation raising the drinking age to 21 -- a move credited with saving thousands of lives. She has testified before Congress, statehouses and committee hearings and has formed coalitions, such as SOS (Save Our Students) as powerful political tools. She also conceived, organized and or implemented visionary national programs including: Project Graduation, the National Poster and Essay Contest, Victim Services, Alcohol Server Training, leadership conferences, volunteer recruitment and training, courtroom monitoring and speakers' bureaus.

Candace Lightner founded, in 2013, as a representative voice on highway safety issues, focusing on the 3 D’s, drugged, drunk and distracted driving. We Save Lives works with more than 60 partners at the local, state, national and international levels, to reduce deaths and injuries on the highways. They have advocated for the successful passage of anti-distracted driving bills in several states and are the only national advocacy organization to initiate and support anti-drugged driving bills. They also produced the international award winning and widely acclaimed video, Reflections from Inside that has been seen by more than 200 million people around the world.

Lightner’s ability to empower people to move beyond their grief and make a difference in their community and state earned her national acclaim. Recognizing her years of dynamic leadership, the media voted Ms. Lightner as “one of the most influential American citizens of the twentieth century.” Her cutting-edge leadership ability has been recognized by the Franklin Covey Leadership Center, the Center for Creative Leadership and the Columbia Business School’s Institute for Personal Leadership.

Lightner has contributed knowledge, expertise and personal experience to virtually every newspaper and talk show in the country including the Today Show, Good Morning America, 60 Minutes, Nightline, NBC News with Lester Holt and was featured in a several documentaries, including The Twentieth Century Project, by the famous Oscar winning director Bob Zemeckis and Seeds of Resiliency featured on NPR. She has co-authored Giving Sorrow Words: How to Cope with Grief and Get On with Your Life (Warner Books) and she was the subject of a T.V. movie, entitled Mothers Against Drunk Drivers: the Candy Lightner Story.

Time honored Ms. Lightner as one of "Seven Who Succeeded;" Esquire picked her as one of "America's New Leadership Class;" and Ladies Home Journal listed her as one of the "Top 100 Women in America. She was chosen by Life Magazine as one of "The Original Thinkers of the 80's" Her many other honors include: The Jefferson Award for Public Service, the President's Volunteer Action Award, the YWCA "Woman of the Year" Award, The Patricia Neal Courage Award from the Women's International Center, The President’s Volunteer Action Award, and the Film Advisory Board Award for Excellence and the Women’s Center Annual Leadership Award, and most recently, The Frank Carrington Champion of Civil Justice award in recognition of her exemplary service to victims of crime.

In addition, she was the first woman to be recognized as one of the "Five Outstanding Californians" by the California Jaycees. Ms. Lightner also has received Honorary Doctorates from Kutztown University, Marymount University and Saint Francis College. Recently, she joined a select group of participants in a groundbreaking global think tank, Filling Leadership Gaps in Health Promotion, Prevention and Care at Harvard University as a component of the Advanced Leadership Initiative co-chaired by Dr. Howard Koh, former Associate Dean for Public Health Practice.

An internationally popular speaker, Ms. Lightner has inspired positive community action for many causes. Among the organizations she has addressed are: The American Lawyers Association, American Academy of Judicial Education, Association for the Care of Children's Health, the Center for Creative Leadership, the National League of Cities, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the National Association of Broadcasters, The Center for Creative Leadership, the National Organization of Victims' Assistance, State of Enrollment National Conference, Physicians for Informed Consent, and 2017 International Boating and Water Safety Summit. She is a frequent guest lecturer at the Institute for Personal Leadership.

Ms. Lightner's lifetime of service to the community began in Okinawa, Japan where she assisted in establishing a drug program for heroin-addicted military personnel, a hotline for potential suicides and a rap center for troubled teens. She also worked with the American Red Cross, counseling military families experiencing personal and financial hardships.

Candace Lightner's interest in social activism continues with her participation as a judge for the Gleitzman Foundation honoring individuals who make a difference with cash awards. She has helped found numerous organizations and believes strongly in active community participation.