Dear Alumni Family,

Continuing the tradition of our December communication, I reach out to report about the work that the Alumni Board has been doing since the beginning of this new fiscal year. The Executive Committee started working in the summer to help set up the Board for a successful year. Among other things, and with the invaluable collaboration of the Alumni Relations Office, we decided on the continuity of committees and to populate them according to board members' preferences, and we set broad goals based on previous work and the information obtained through the last Alumni Survey. Starting in August, once the committees were formed, they started to work independently, and during our first all-Board call in the month of September they shared their work plans and timelines and we discussed possible synergies among committees and other alumni groups.

During the third week of November, the Board got together for its fall meeting. During this two-day gathering in Cambridge, we covered many different topics and had work meetings with school leadership and members of its staff. We also carved some time off for a session with faculty on a topic relevant and interesting for our members. Our session with Dean Elmendorf revolved around the state of the School, challenges raised by intellectual vitality, diversity, and the role of HKS facing current world issues and its goal of always staying relevant and ahead of what future students of public policy will need. I encourage you all to check out the latest Summary Report & Recommendations of the Candid and Constructive Conversations Working Group, one of the topics we also discussed with the dean, and which is a matter that he feels very passionate about. We also had the pleasure to meet and have a very constructive conversation with Prof. Erica Chenoweth, Academic Dean for Faculty Engagement, on the broad curricular review that the Faculty Steering Committee was charged with, and the future of the degree programs. This conversation builds upon the dialog we started last year with both Dean Elmendorf and Prof. Suzanne Cooper, Academic Dean for Teaching and Curriculum, about the Board’s collaboration and participation on the topic. Prof. Chenoweth provided an update on the process and we discussed options for Board and alumni collaboration. In addition, we also got together with Lauren Lee, Managing Director of Development, who provided an update on fundraising and the use of and need for unrestricted funds and its importance for student financial aid. Finally, Sharad Goel, Professor of Public Policy, provided a wonderful overview on the state of artificial intelligence and its relation with public policy. Another highlight of our meeting was the session with Nana Afoh-Manin, president of KSSG, who shared what they are planning for this year’s activities, which will build on three pillars: diversity, health and safety, and shared humanity. Finally, as we have been doing in past meetings, we hosted a networking event with students. On this occasion, we welcomed the HKS New England Alumni Association as co-hosts of the event, which added the fantastic flavor of more alumni to the mix.

Moreover, I believe it is important to mention that we had the honor to have been asked by Prof. Alan Garber, Provost of Harvard University, to meet with him to explore the search for a new dean for our School. Prof. Garber was interested in listening to the alumni perspective, not only on the skills and characteristics of the next dean, but also on our perspective about the School in light of what the future might look like for HKS students.

As an Alumni Board, we are aware that members of our community are going through very challenging times. Some of us are working and living in war zones, others braving the storms of climate change, development, inclusion and the construction or defense of democracy. And even if you are not on the frontlines, daily life is still filled with small and large conundrums, decisions and choices both in our professional and personal lives. These have proven to be muddy waters. So many values that we hold dear are now being questioned, so many things we were used to are now changing, from the way we communicate with each other, to the way we conduct business or even think about our futures. Our hope is to keep building a community that sticks together even through tough times, despite our differences, and always having in mind our shared humanity, the value of empathy and the courage to be ourselves and together defend the values that unite us.

We are still almost a month away from the end of this year, however I would like, on behalf of the Board, to send you, your families and your loved ones our best wishes and the reassurance that our community will keep fighting to stay strong, safe and open.

Un abrazo como siempre,


Corina Santangelo MPA 1999 
Chair, HKS Alumni Board (2023–2024)