The Founders Boardroom pays tribute to those who founded the World Food Prize or who have played a key role in the organization's history. Its walls are flanked by illustrator Mark Summers' engraved etchings of each of these 27 individuals.
Included among the key individuals whose leadership has developed and enhanced the World Food Prize, and whose portraits hang in the Founders Boardroom, are:
- Corazon Aquino – Former President of the Philippines, President Aquino was the first head of state to acknowledge the World Food Prize, later served as a member of the Council of Advisors
- Saul Bass – Acclaimed artist who designed the World Food Prize sculpture
- Norman Borlaug – He conceived the idea for a global award which would emulate the Nobel Prize, after his request to the Nobel Committee to establish a new prize for agriculture was declined
- Ricardo Bressani – Member of original Council of Advisors
- George H.W. Bush – The 41st President of United States and a member of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors
- David Call – Member of the original Council of Advisors
- Jimmy Carter – The 39th President of United States and member of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors
- Joaquim Chissano – Former President of Mozambique and member of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors
- A.S. “Al” Clausi – Senior Vice President at General Foods, who became the first Chairman of the World Food Prize and headed the initial Council of Advisors
- John Denver – A legendary American singer-songwriter and personal friend of Dr. Borlaug, Denver performed several songs at the first World Food Prize ceremony held in 1987 in Washington, D.C.
- James Ferguson – CEO of General Foods, Ferguson agreed to support Borlaug’s idea for a global agriculture prize. This annual award was introduced in May 1986 as the “General Foods World Food Prize.”
- Robert Havener – Close professional associate of Dr. Borlaug, and a charter member of the Council of Advisors and President of Winrock International. He also served as the first Secretariat of the World Food Prize.
- Michael Gartner – Close friend of John Ruan. Michael Gartner was instrumental in convincing the elder Ruan to support the Prize and relocate it to Iowa. Gartner has also been a member of the Council of Advisors for the past two decades.
- Richard Hall – Member of the original Council of Advisors.
- Herman Kilpper – Close business associate of John Ruan, who served as Executive Director of the World Food Prize from the time it was relocated to Iowa in 1990 until his retirement at the end of 1999.
- Pekka Linko – Member of the original Council of Advisors
- Robert McNamara – Former President of the World Bank, he became active member of Council of Advisors
- Olusegun Obasanjo – Former President of Nigeria and was a member of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors prior to his election as President
- Thomas Odhiambo – Member of the original Council of Advisors, Odhiambo was a Kenyan entymologist and environmental activist who served as Director General at the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi
- Kenneth M. Quinn – A career American diplomat, he became President of the World Food Prize on January 1, 2000, following completion of his tour as U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia.
- Carleton Smith – He volunteered to help Dr. Borlaug find a sponsor to underwrite a prize for agriculture. Smith set up a luncheon appointment to introduce Borlaug to the CEO of General Foods, but Smith unexpectedly died in his sleep the night before the luncheon date.
- Betty Ruan – A great Des Moines benefactor. Together with her husband, John, she provided the significant financial endowment which generates the funds that are awarded each year to the winner of the World Food Prize.
- Janis Ruan – Together with her husband, John Ruan III, she has been a leader in the public beautification movement in Des Moines. Janis Ruan was intimately involved in the design of the public gardens to the west of the Hall of Laureates, as well as in the selection of the furniture and décor throughout the Hall of Laureates building.
- John Ruan Sr. – A Des Moines business leader and philanthropist, Ruan rescued the Prize, moved it to Iowa and endowed it so that it could be preserved far into the future.
- John Ruan III – Eldest son of John Ruan. He succeeded his father as Chairman of the Ruan Transportation Management System, as well as Chairman of the World Food Prize Foundation.
- Elaine Syzmoniak – A state senator in the Iowa Legislature from Des Moines, Elaine played a significant role in connecting Dr. Borlaug with John Ruan and in obtaining critical funding from the state legislature to support John Ruan’s efforts to relocate the World Food Prize to Des Moines.
- Ted Williams – Williams served as the first head of Secretariat operations at Winrock Foundation in Arkansas.