“WE PROMOTE BETTER PUBLIC LEADERSHIP in Spain from all sectors,” says Borja Santos MPA/ID 2017, who is president of the HKS Spain Alumni Network. The group, which has seen significant growth and impact over the past few years, is the recipient of HKS’s 2021 Alumni Network Engagement Award. This award honors HKS alumni networks that have significantly strengthened the alumni community and advanced ties with the School. Members of the network engage with current HKS students from Spain via the HKS Spain Caucus and mentor Spanish students and leaders who aspire to attend HKS. Since 2019, when a new board assumed leadership of the Spain network, attendance at some of the network’s events tripled as the group enhanced communications via a new, regular newsletter that features alumni stories, as well as an active WhatsApp group. Although the pandemic prevented HKS alumni from gathering in person, the network’s online events attracted Spanish alumni from across the country and beyond.
The network’s 2020–2021 events focused on topics including COVID-19, economic recovery, energy policy, poverty and inequality, public leadership, the U.S. election, the crisis in Venezuela, and the challenge of a resurgent China. “Nowadays, with so-called fake news, it’s so important to connect with people to debate about important public policies for the country,” Santos says about the value of linking alumni to one another. “Networking is important because even if we weren’t in the same cohort, we all have similar values and are working for a purpose, in whatever form or sector.”
Santos and the rest of the board, which includes Paloma Baena MPA 2006, Gregorio Bustos MC/MPA 2017, Ignacio Álvaro MC/MPA 2014, Paz Guzmán MPA 2007, and Jaime de Aguinaga MPA/ID 2010, promote relationships and advance better public leadership and public policy from all sectors while “catalyzing urgent public policies that are important in our country,” says Santos. The group sends its newsletter and communications not just to its members but also to individuals outside the HKS community who share an interest in public impact. “We organize a few events just for members, but most of the dialogues and communications are also extended to people who are interested in HKS values,” Santos says. “We are showing people who are having impact, and showing that we are part of a community, and that even if we have different ideologies, we all want to serve the public.”
Santos says the network is always aiming to improve: “It’s a work in progress. We are building on the work that others have done before, establishing the pillars and the framework to increase engagement, increase communication,
and show the impact of the network.”
Photos courtesy of the HKS Spain Alumni Network