HKS Alumni Honored with Awards at Reunion Weekend

May 17, 2010
by Lindsay Hodges Anderson and Doug Gavel

Three Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) alumni were honored for their outstanding contributions during Alumni Reunion weekend (May 14-15).

Susan Ople MPA 1999 received the Alumni Achievement Award which recognizes HKS alumni who, after more than six years in their careers, have made a significant contribution to improving the human condition on a local, state/provincial, national or international stage. Ople — who was a Mason fellow while a student — was cited for her work to protect migrant workers and her fight against human trafficking of Philippine women.

“[This award] is an acknowledgment of the work we do in helping trafficked victims. It is a source of strength, and inspiration,” said Ople, who served 16 years in the national Senate and is a former labor undersecretary and chief of staff at the Department of Foreign Affairs, and who has taken in part in the rescue and support of thousands of trafficked women and migrant workers. “This award tells me that there are others now who know what it is I do, and that they are proud and thankful that I do what I can for these [trafficked] women.”

Mehmet Daimaguler MPA 2005 was named winner of the 2010 Rising Star Award, which recognizes HKS alumni who, within six years of beginning their careers, have “hit the ground running” as leaders, catalysts for change or people who are making a meaningful difference to individuals, organizations, or governments. He was recognized for his efforts to bridge the Muslim-Jewish divide.

“The most important thing I learned at HKS was about commitment and passion,” said Daimaguler, one of the leading political and cultural activists on German-Turkish issues and the first German of Turkish descent to be elected to the national board of a German political party, the Free Democratic Party. “The people I met at the HKS and their commitment to public service gave me the faith to make a new turn in life.”

The Julius E. Babbitt Memorial Alumni Volunteer Award — given to an alumnus/a who has demonstrated uncommon commitment and service to the School and the alumni community — was given to Robert Min Xie MPA/MC 1994. Xie was awarded for his for his founding of the Harvard Kennedy School Alumni Association – China (HKSAA-China) – and his mentoring and student recruitment efforts. He has also advised many HKS alumni on job opportunities and gaining knowledge about Chinese government, industries and markets.

In addition to founding the local HKS alumni association, Xie has served as Chairman of its Board since 2005. He organized the HKS China Forum in July 2005 in Beijing and has advised many HKS alumni on job opportunities and gaining knowledge about Chinese government, industries and markets. Xie created an internship for HKS students for their career development and has referred several Chinese candidates for admission to the MPA program. He also helped organize HKSCAA’s donation drives to support relief efforts following the Sichuan earthquake in 2008.

“This award is a great honor to not only myself but also to our board of HKS China Alumni Association. It is recognition on great job done collectively by China regional alumni leaders,” said Xie.

The alumni reunion weekend for the classes of 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2005, and for the 10th anniversary of the MPA/ID program saw more than 1,000 HKS alumni return to campus.

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Susan Ople

Susan Ople MPA 1999 received the Alumni Achievement Award for her work in the Philippines as an advocate against human trafficking and for the protection of migrant workers around the world. Photo credit, Martha Stewart.