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Cambridge MA — Three Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) graduates were named recipients of alumni awards by the HKS alumni board during Reunion Weekend 2014. Leopoldo López MPP 1996 received the Alumni Achievement Award for his support of democracy and transparency in Venezuela; Moís Cherem MPP 2009 received the Rising Star Award for his work to improve education in Mexico; and Doug Levine MPA 2008 received the Julius E. Babbitt Memorial Alumni Volunteer Award for his extensive work with alumni.
Alumni Achievement Award | Leopoldo López MPP 1996
Leopoldo López was elected mayor of Chacao, a municipality of Caracas, at age 29, and was reelected in 2004. Under his leadership, services such as policing, public health, and education experienced dramatic improvements. In 2008, the organization City Mayors elected him the third-best world mayor (behind the mayors of Zurich and Cape Town). He was instrumental in creating the Voluntad Popular (“People’s Will”) movement, which became a political party in 2011 with López as its national coordinator. After finishing his term as mayor of Chacao in 2008 with a 92 percent approval rating, López was favored to become mayor of Caracas. Amid his growing popularity, the government banned Lopez from running for any elected position. The case was brought to the Inter American Human Right Court, which four years later ruled in favor of López. Since February 12, 2014, students have led marches in protest of the government’s failure to tackle high inflation, crime, shortages of basic goods, corruption, and intimidation of the media and opposition. López took a leading role, demanding an open discussion about the constitutional way to deliver the changes that the population demanded. The Venezuelan government reacted by repressing the protests, detaining hundreds of students, and arresting López, who made the decision to turn himself in to the Venezuelan authorities. At this writing, López remains imprisoned. He is the first person to receive the Alumni Achievement Award in absentia.
Instituted in 1997, the HKS Alumni Achievement Award recognizes alumni more than six years into their careers who have significantly improved the human condition on any level—local, state/provincial, national, or international. Recipients are honored for meaningful accomplishments or making a substantial difference on behalf of people, organizations, or governments, whether by a single influential act or by a series of steps that have produced positive change.
Rising Star Award | Moís Cherem MPP 2009
Moís Cherem is a founding partner and CEO of Enova, a social enterprise that brings technology-based learning to Mexico’s poorest urban neighborhoods. Enova designed and operates the Learning and Innovation Network (Red de Innovación y Aprendizaje or RIA), a group of 70 (and growing) educational centers with 2,600 computers located in low-income areas across the nation’s most populous state, also called Mexico. The recipient of numerous awards, RIA is considered one of the most innovative educational projects in the nation. Each RIA center benefits nearly 11 schools and 5,000 users annually within a radius of two kilometers. The aim of Enova is threefold: 1) to create digital citizens, 2) to generate widespread educational impact, and 3) to improve opportunities for Mexicans to grow their knowledge and apply it in their schools, jobs, and communities. Enova’s work is even more vital because Mexico’s educational system has the lowest performance in the Program for International Student Assessment among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development members. Various studies have shown that students who participate in the RIA improve their skills in areas ranging from mathematics to Spanish. The social enterprise is currently undergoing a comprehensive national expansion to extend the opportunities of the RIA to every one of the 32 states in Mexico. In addition, Enova recently inaugurated digital libraries in school communities across 14 municipalities in the State of Mexico. These spaces, which are adjacent to public schools, focus on reducing the digital divide by offering free digital collections, training opportunities, and other technology-based content.
Instituted in 2001, the Rising Star Award recognizes alumni who, within six years of beginning their careers, have stood out as leaders, catalysts for change, or as people making a meaningful difference to individuals, organizations, or governments. Recipients exemplify the HKS mission, “to educate enlightened public leaders and generate answers to our most challenging public problems” at all levels, from local to international and across all sectors.
Julius E. Babbitt Memorial Alumni Volunteer Award | Doug Levine MPA 2008
Doug Levine has been engaged in alumni volunteer efforts since graduation. A long-serving member of the alumni board, Levine works to find innovative ways for alumni to connect with each other and the Kennedy School. He previously chaired the HKS DC Network, the largest HKS alumni network, and he also chairs the alumni board’s alumni networks committee, where he supports the efforts of regional and shared interest alumni groups. Currently, he is on the board of directors of the HKS New England Alumni Association. Throughout his time on the alumni board, Levine has held several leadership roles, including executive committee member-at-large. Levine also served on his five-year reunion committee. During Reunion Weekend, he helped organize speed networking for the class of 2008, an event that was attended by nearly 150 alumni. For the past several years, he has also engaged with current students, participating as both an alumni mentor and J-term shadowing participant. He frequently meets with student organizations and student leaders and provides valuable support to their projects. His significant contributions, countless hours of volunteer time, and tireless work on behalf of HKS alumni have positively affected countless numbers of HKS alumni.
Created and endowed in 2007, this award recognizes alumni who have made exceptional contributions to the HKS community by volunteering their time, creativity, and energy and by advancing the spirit of volunteerism and service to the School. It honors the memory of Julius Babbitt MC/MPA 2001, a member of the HKS alumni board of directors who served both as director of HKS alumni programs and chair of the HKS New England Alumni Association.
The HKS Alumni Board
The HKS alumni board comprises 23 elected members who represent the interests of the global HKS community. These volunteers advise the Office of Alumni Relations on programs and planning to improve connectivity within the alumni networks, enrich the alumni experience, and support the School and its students.