Julius E. Babbitt Memorial Volunteer Award

ROBERT MANSON MPA 2004 is committed to building relationships and engaging with Harvard and connecting HKS alumni worldwide. As a leader among HKS alumni, Bob, as he is known, gives freely of his time with such an abundance it is easy to believe that he must be two people working across Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Bob has served not only as president of the Harvard Club of Ireland for four years, but also as a Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) regional director for Europe overseeing six countries for three years, and was most recently elected to the executive committee of the HAA as a member-at-large.

Bob’s focus on public service was recently on display at the HAA Alumni Leadership Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when he was asked to host a session on public leadership. He ultimately presented three case studies featuring the Harvard Club of Ireland, the Harvard Club of Seattle, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education to encourage other clubs to adopt initiatives with a public service focus that could have a positive impact in their local communities.

“I am incredibly honored to be the recipient of this year’s award, which is named in memory of a young man who dedicated his short life to public service.”

Robert Manson

This recent example of encouraging participation among HKS alumni is the latest in a history of making change since graduating in 2004. Just six years ago, Bob founded the Harvard Club of Ireland Nonprofit Fellowship, which was modeled on a program from the Harvard Club of Australia, to select leaders of nonprofits in Ireland and send them on an executive education program at Harvard Business School called “Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management.” Since its inception, seven fellowships have been awarded and its success has garnered attention from other Harvard clubs in Europe.    

While engaging alumni and students is a passion, Bob also seeks out future public leaders who would benefit from a Kennedy School education. To do so, Bob co-founded the Harvard Club of Ireland Outreach Program, adopted from the Harvard Club of the United Kingdom, to encourage applicants to HKS from state schools in Ireland.

“I am incredibly honored to be the recipient of this year’s award, which is named in memory of a young man who dedicated his short life to public service,” Bob says. “I am fond of saying that volunteerism and public service is not what I do; it is who I am.”

In addition to his volunteerism with Harvard and the Kennedy School, Bob also continues to give back to his community. He is a volunteer with the Special Olympics Ireland (Basketball and Golf Programs) and a serial fundraiser for Crumlin Children’s Hospital, Down Syndrome Ireland, and St Raphael’s Special School through marathon and ultra-marathon running (60 marathons and ultra-marathons completed). His commitment to leading change within his community, locally and at HKS, continues to inspire his classmates and other alumni groups around the world, proving that leading by example can enlist multitudes to create change.

“This award is dedicated to my classmate Captain Oleh Khalayim MPA/ID 2004,” adds Bob. “Two months ago, Oleh was working as a portfolio officer at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. Today he is serving in the armed forces of Ukraine.”