President, Cleveland NAACP
When Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed got in trouble with the law again — this time for being drunkenly passed out behind the wheel of his BMW —there was really only one person to turn to: George Forbes. Forbes holds credibility with nearly everyone in this town, and he has a history of guiding young, smart leaders into better situations. Years earlier, he took Michael White under his wing and aided in his ascension to become a powerful mayor. (Granted, he may have done that a tad early, as White beat him out in his own mayoral run.) Forbes’ power comes from the fact that he’s well respected by both the city’s political elite and the everyday folks he served as one of the city’s most powerful councilmen. Sure, to some of us he’ll always be the chair-throwing hothead of Cleveland politics past. But these days, as head of the NAACP, he acts as an elder statesman for the city. When he speaks, we all listen.