Mayor Cory Booker Among The 2011 TIME 100

April 21st, 2011

The 2011 TIME 100

Meet the most influential people in the world. They are artists and activists, reformers and researchers, heads of state and captains of industry. Their ideas spark dialogue and dissent and sometimes even revolution. Welcome to this year’s TIME 100

Cory Booker Mayor

By Oprah Winfrey Thursday, Apr. 21, 2011
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Cory Booker is a genius. I could sense it the first day I met him. His enormous intelligence is surpassed only by his heart. He is compassionate, committed, charismatic and generous of spirit. He defines servant leader.

Years ago, when he moved into the projects of Newark, N.J., and I asked why that was necessary, he responded, “You can best serve what you know.” And long after he won the job of mayor, he remained in his tiny inner-city flat — not to make a point but to make a difference.

On the desk in his office are scriptures from about eight different religions. He studies them all. He is a man of, for and about the people. I’ve watched him give bear hugs as frequently as other politicians shake hands.

I believe Cory, 41, could have been elected Senator, but he chose the harder and arguably more important job of running New Jersey’s biggest and often most challenging city.

The work of reforming the schools in Newark represents his Mount Everest — a ferocious challenge — but he’s helped raise $100 million thanks to Mark Zuckerberg and a partnership with Republican governor Chris Christie. If anybody can do it, I believe Cory will.

He’s Newark’s biggest cheerleader now, but I’m looking forward to the day we all get to cheer him on wherever politically he chooses to go.

Winfrey is the chairman of Harpo Inc. and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network