Three Honored with HKS Alumni Awards

Contact: Doug Gavel
Phone: (617) 495-1115
Date: May 13, 2013

At Reunion 2013, HKS presented three graduates of the School with alumni awards. Jian-Li Yang PhD 2011 received the Alumni Achievement Award for his advocacy of democracy in China; Ejaj Ahmad MPP 2008 received the Rising Star Award for founding the Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center, and Wendy Feldman MC/MPA 1989 received the Julius E. Babbitt Memorial Alumni Volunteer Award for her work with alumni in Toronto.

Alumni Achievement Award | Jian-Li Yang PhD 2001
A prodemocracy activist and native of Shandong Province in northern China, Jian-Li Yang escaped the country after emerging as a leader during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. He returned to the United States, where he had studied mathematics at University of California, Berkeley, and completed a PhD at HKS in political economy. Despite being blacklisted by the Chinese government for participating in the protests, he went back to China in 2002 on a friend’s passport to investigate labor unrest, where he was promptly arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. An international outcry for his release helped bring him to freedom in 2007. More committed than ever to democracy activism, Yang established Initiatives for China (aka Citizen Power for China, an organization dedicated to democracy in China), the Foundation for China in the 21st Century, the Interethnic/Interfaith Leadership Conferences, and China E-Weekly (also known as Yibao magazine). He coauthored the Constitution of the Federation of Democratic China in the 1990s and cochaired the Committee on Internet Freedom at the Geneva Human Rights and Democracy Summit. A multiple awards recipient, Yang was elected by Chinese independent intellectuals as one of the top 100 Chinese Public Intellectuals of 2009, 2010,2011, and 2012, and has been recognized by Chinese Twitter users as one of the 50 Most Respected Chinese Citizens of 2009. His views on the impact of Internet censorship inside China and on world security, which have stimulated widespread discussion, have been published in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Journal of Democracy and other papers and journals.

Instituted in 1997, the HKS Alumni Achievement Award recognizes alumni more than six years into his or her career 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.


Julius E. Babbitt Memorial Alumni Volunteer Award | Wendy Feldman MC/MPA 1989
Wendy Feldman is currently coordinator (special projects) at the Ontario government’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in Toronto. She has also worked as director of research, the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, and served as a foreign service officer for Canada. Feldman has shown exceptional dedication to HKS as a member of the Alumni Executive Council from 1997 to 2001, including one year as vice chair. She has been a member of the Harvard Club of Toronto Executive since 2002, representing HKS. Feldman has helped to increase HKS’s understanding of the needs of international students, acting as a liaison between HKS and the Harvard Club of Toronto to create enduring programs. Her work with the US Consul General in Toronto to support Harvard activities and to reach out to newly admitted HKS students, faculty, and alumni communities is a model of ingenuity, creativity, and connection. In addition to her HKS MC/MPA, Feldman received her BA from the University of Ottawa.

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.


Rising Star Award | Ejaj Ahmad MPP 2008
A native of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Ahmad founded Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (bylc), the country’s first leadership institute, with the vision of creating an inclusive, tolerant, and just society by training the next generation of home-grown leaders. bylc’s international, award-winning program—Building Bridges through Leadership Training (bblt)—was conceptualized at hks. It unites youth from diverse educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, equips them with leadership skills, and engages them in service-oriented projects in local communities to address Bangladesh’s most urgent developmental needs. Numerous other leadership programs of bylc prepare youth to make a positive impact on society. Several graduates of bylc are currently in leadership positions in several youth-led organizations in Bangladesh and abroad, while a few others have gone on to launch their own initiatives. Ahmad is also actively engaged with several youth-run initiatives in Bangladesh and serves on the board of a secondary girls’ high school. He has spoken about leadership to audiences in Geneva, Kyoto, Nairobi, San Francisco, Washington, dc, New Delhi, and Kuala Lumpur. In addition to receiving his mpp from hks, Ahmad earned his first degree in economics from St. Andrews University.

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.

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