Dear Alumni Family,
Braving the extreme temperatures of yet another off-the-charts hot summer, and reflecting upon my own 25th HKS Reunion coming in a handful of months, I look back on the work the Alumni Board did this past year with a smile on my face. In my last letter, I reported that one of our challenges was to onboard a group of 12 newly elected members. I can proudly say that this past year our Board has worked collaboratively and committedly to forward new initiatives and continue successful ones with a focus on better understanding how to serve the alumni community.
This was a year of firsts: We conducted the first Board-led Alumni Survey—which received more than 450 responses and which we used to inform our 2023–2024 strategic planning. We co-hosted our first Forum event with the Institute of Politics: “Disability: The Critical but Absent Part of Public Policy.” Moreover, after maybe too many virtual meetings, we hosted the first-ever in-person alumni-student networking event at the School, which got together more than 50 students and alumni from the Cambridge area.
Fortunately, it was also a year of continued strong mutual support with Alumni Relations Office and HKS leadership, and of promoting stronger ties with HKS regional networks and Shared Interest Groups, which is one of our priorities for the future. We started conversations with the dean and other senior administrators regarding the MPA-MPP update, which will continue this year, and for which a new ad hoc Board committee will be put in place. We advanced collaborative conversations with School leadership to understand actions focused on advancing diversity, which led the Board’s Diversity and Enrollment Committee to develop "Recommendations for Improving Diversity at Harvard Kennedy School,” a document with 12 key elements to help foster diversity for faculty, staff, and students.
The Board committees organized three very interesting webinars reaching more than 150 alumni globally: “Preparing for your 50s, 60s, and 70s: Tips to make these years productive, fun and healthy” with Judy Kugel, “What Does It Mean to Have a Strong Multiracial Democracy?” with Professors Khalil Muhammad and Archon Fung, and piloted our first Asian webinar, “Dilemma of the AI Regulatory Landscape” in an effort to engage alumni in different time zones.
This was our third year of the Alumni-Student Career Mentoring Program, which brought together almost 100 current students and alumni online. During these lively sessions, students and alumni from around the world shared experiences, concerns, tips, and wonderful HKS anecdotes. On this same line, we continued working with Kennedy School Student Government (KSSG) liaisons and other international student groups, hoping this will also help build a pipeline of future HKS alumni leaders.
As always, we successfully continued the annual HKS Alumni Awards program to honor outstanding alumni leaders globally and one alumni network. You can get to know our wonderful awardees at the HKS Alumni Awards webpage, and remember that all alumni can nominate peers every year. We invite you to reflect on your peers’ and friends´ careers and put their names forward for next year’s awards.
Even if we are proud about this past year, there is so much more to do to connect to every single alum and to keep building a vibrant, active, and cohesive community. This is no small challenge, however it keeps us spirited, active, and hopefully creative enough to keep on building on the work that this and past Boards have been doing. The survey has definitely been very helpful in revealing what some of you think and in providing new ideas and avenues to explore. We will be focusing our future efforts on different types of alumni as well as alumni initiatives aimed at building new ties through sharing experience and knowledge.
Building a strong community benefits from active alumni participation: The more each of us connect, both through the channels that the School and the alumni groups provide or on our own personal initiative, the closer we get. We invite you to be part this family by sharing your voice, your ideas, and your energy. I stand by the words I shared more than a year ago: The closer we are, the stronger we get, and now, more than ever, we need to stay close to the people with whom we share passions, values, and dreams.
Un abrazo as always,
Corina Santangelo MPA 1999
Chair, HKS Alumni Board (2023–2024)