Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine MPP 1996 and Joe Tompkins JD 1974, MPP 1975
By Mari Megias
July 17, 2017
Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine MPP 1996
Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine is a true champion of philanthropy in the form of unrestricted gifts. As co-chair of the HKS Fund’s Executive Council, she spearheads strategies that inspire alumni and others to donate funds of any amount to the School, saying it is a great honor for alumni to give back financially and support the students who will do so much for their respective countries.
With her leadership, the number of alumni donors to the HKS Fund has increased almost 60 percent in the past two fiscal years, setting a new all-time record for alumni participation. “What unites all HKS alumni is the desire to make the world a better place,” she says. “I’m committed to helping the School facilitate the involvement of alumni by reminding them of why they came to the Kennedy School.”
In addition to her unwavering dedication to unrestricted giving, she and her husband, Gabriel Sunshine, have provided funding to renovate the entranceway to the Forum, a landmark space at the Kennedy School. This area is in the process of a significant transformation, after which it will better reflect the School’s extraordinary convening power.
Beyond Cambridge, Acuña-Sunshine is an example of how HKS alumni are shaping policy across the globe. As the founder and president of the Sunshine Care Foundation, an international NGO, she is leading a team dedicated to finding innovative ways to deliver health care to impoverished rural areas in her native Philippines. The foundation also encourages international collaboration to find a cure for rare neurodegenerative diseases, and has fostered research in genetics, cellular biology, neuroimaging, brain science, and clinical work.
Acuña-Sunshine serves as senior counsel at Bracebridge Capital in Boston. In addition to her volunteer work with HKS, she is a steadfast supporter of other parts of Harvard University: She serves as co-chair of the Harvard College Fund Executive Committee, director of the Harvard Alumni Board, and member of the Harvard Governing Boards Joint Committee on Alumni Affairs and Development.
Joseph Tompkins JD 1974, MPP 1975
When Joe Tompkins was a student at Harvard Kennedy School, he was struck by how his professors used studies of real public policy problems to help students learn to think about public issues. “Graham [Allison, former dean,] had just published Essence of Decision, his famous book about the Cuban missile crisis,” Tompkins says. “That book might be one of the greatest case studies ever written.”
His belief in the case method led him establish, years later, the Joseph B. Tompkins Jr. Fund for Case Study and Research. To date, his generosity has funded the creation of cases that have been used by 94 sections at HKS and sold to students and institutions in 65 countries around the world. This expansion has helped the Kennedy School maintain its position as the world’s largest producer of case studies for the nonprofit and government sectors. Cases are extremely popular with students and faculty members alike; many professors use several cases per course, and some management instructors present a separate case in every class session.
“What the Kennedy School is doing is important, not just in the United States but in the world,” he says. “When I was a student there, it was relatively small and composed mostly of students from the United States. What impresses me now is the size and the international dimension of the school. To me, the case study program is even more important now in helping the School train today’s and tomorrow’s leaders.”
Tompkins also believes in spurring other alumni to give back to the School. Last year, to accomplish this, Tompkins offered a match for any gifts that alumni made to the HKS Fund—the School’s main source of unrestricted funding—during a specific timeframe.
When he is not busy with his job working on complex commercial litigation as senior partner at the Washington, DC, office of the international law firm Sidley Austin LLP, Tompkins enjoys singing in his church’s men’s choir. He is also dedicated to helping people through a fund at his church that assists local residents who are down on their luck.