Since his graduation and especially during the last decade, David Rosenberg MC/MPA 1986 has been an active member of the HKS and Harvard alumni communities. For his exceptional contributions and for volunteering his time, creativity, and energy to enhance the alumni experience, Rosenberg is this year’s recipient of the Julius E. Babbitt Memorial Volunteer Award.
An expert on organizational transformation, innovation, and development—among other work, he consults for U.S. federal agencies and nonprofits on these issues—Rosenberg was tapped in 2012 by his classmate Wendy Pangburn MC/MPA 1986, the Alumni Board chair at the time, to help revitalize the board’s efforts.
“Given my background, Wendy asked me to work with her and the Alumni Relations Office,” he says. “We began with the basics: What is the nature of our alumni community? What is its purpose? Why and how do we organize it? And we started from the principle that we had all committed ourselves to a vision of public service, and that we as alumni should help each other to maintain and strengthen that commitment, even when it is difficult.”
Rosenberg worked with the board to develop new structures and committees that would harness alumni’s dedication to public service and to each other, in addition to supporting HKS and current students. He joined the board in 2013, where he developed a reputation as a humble, hands-on contributor. “I admire that David digs into the hard, unglamorous, and time-consuming, behind-the-scenes work,” says Jen Tutak MPA 2012, who chaired the board in 2020–2021 and nominated Rosenberg for this award. “We as a board learned so much from him. He consistently articulated and demonstrated that we are a lifetime community, connected and engaged in a wide variety of ways, and above all dedicated to the core mission of public service across sectors.”
Rosenberg is a true connector of people, not just at alumni and student events—when he finds a commonality between attendees and makes sure to introduce them to each other—but also across Harvard University’s various alumni communities and organizations.
Says Tutak, “As an HKS representative to the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA), which had focused largely on College alumni, David helped elevate its newly established graduate school directors into a respected voice for graduate school alumni within the HAA, championing alumni collaboration across Harvard’s often siloed graduate schools.”
At first, some people were skeptical. “People didn’t quite understand our role and value to the University, especially given the different durations and natures of the diverse graduate programs. But we realized we could learn a whole lot from each other,” Rosenberg says of the graduate school alumni group. “And we found receptivity and growing recognition in the larger HAA.”
It is this broad perspective (Rosenberg is also a graduate of Harvard College) that allows him to amplify the collective impact of talented people throughout Harvard’s many alumni communities. In addition to his involvement in the top HKS and University alumni groups, he has served as a class volunteer for his HKS reunions and as a longtime elected member of the HKS Washington, D.C., Alumni Council. He has also consistently supported HKS students through his generosity to the HKS Fund.
Rosenberg believes that HKS alumni are among the School’s greatest assets. “Alumni are one of the most effective and important parts of how HKS affects the world,” he says. “The School sends hundreds of graduates every year to apply what we have learned to make the world a better place wherever we can.”
This commitment to action is what makes Rosenberg such a powerful volunteer on behalf of the Kennedy School and its alumni—and is what helped him earn this year’s Julius E. Babbitt Memorial Volunteer Award.
Photography by Martha Stewart.