Coalition for a Diverse Harvard

and 12 Alumni Organizations Make Endorsements

for Harvard Overseers and Elected Directors

 

Click here to JOIN THE COALITION

 

In these difficult times, the Coalition for a Diverse Harvard urges you to VOTE in this year’s critical Overseer and Elected Director elections. The crises relating to Black Lives Matter, Ethnic Studies and the emergency campus evacuation underscore the need for strong leaders who will promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

We are joined in our endorsements by First Generation Harvard Alumni, Harvard Alumni for Oceania, Harvard Arab Alumni Association, Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance, Harvard Black Alumni Society, Harvard Gender & Sexuality Caucus, Harvard Latino Alumni Alliance, Harvard Progressive Jewish Alumni, Harvard South Asian Alumni Alliance, Harvard Tamil Sangam Alumni, Harvard Women of Color, and Native American Alumni of Harvard University, which also co-sponsored the Diversity Questionnaire

 

The Overseer candidates we endorse – including a national poet laureate; one of the “smartest people in tech”; the first African American and first openly gay person to head one of the Fed’s regional banks, and a Harvard Forward candidate – have the strongest histories of advocacy and accomplishments on diversity initiatives and are best positioned to help Harvard be a more diverse, inclusive, and just institution. We endorse them enthusiastically:

For Overseer (in ballot order):

Diego A. Rodriguez* MBA ’01

David H. Eun* AB ’89, JD ’93

Raphael William Bostic AB ’87

Tracy K. Smith AB ’94

Thea Sebastian AB ’08, JD ’16

For Director (in ballot order):

Kelsey Trey Leonard AB ‘10

Joyce Y. Zhang* AB ‘09

Mallika J. Marshall*  AB ‘92

Vanessa Zoltan* ​​​​​​MDiv ’15

Santiago Creuheras* ALM ’00, ALM ’01

Michael D. Lewis* AB ’93

 

* Coalition for a Diverse Harvard Members

Our Endorsed Overseer Candidates (in ballot order)

 

Diego A. Rodriguez  MBA ’01

As the Chief Product & Design Officer of Intuit and one of Fortune’s “smartest people in tech,” Diego Rodriguez believes Harvard must “aspire to be a radically inclusive institution.” A Diverse Harvard member, Diego has been an Overseer for the past two years, and we proudly endorse him for another term. 

 

As a leader in large organizations and a teacher in academia, Diego works to make explicit the link between diversity, inclusion, and innovative outcomes. In his Questionnaire, Diego advocates for Harvard to: 

 

  • Recruit students whose race or ethnic background is underrepresented in elite colleges and positions of power. 

  • Admit and support students regardless of ability to pay.

  • Build a world-class ethnic studies program: ensure a sustainable funding model to support a cohort of tenured faculty who can create an approach which truly meets the needs of the Harvard community. 

  • Tailor support mechanisms for all members of the community. 

  • Support individuals throughout their Harvard journey so that we have as much diversity at the finish as at the start.

 

“For the remainder of the 21st century, Harvard’s prime opportunity is to lead the way to a brighter, more diverse, more just society,” Diego writes. “This requires embracing diversity and acting inclusively.”

David H. Eun AB ’89, JD ’93

David Eun is chief innovation officer of Samsung Electronics and president of Samsung NEXT. In his Questionnaire, Eun described how he implemented concrete diversity and inclusion goals at Samsung and promoted “fluency in dealing with issues of race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, and sexual orientation.” Because ”process is not progress,” he ensured that every employee is evaluated on their performance in meeting these goals. A strong supporter of Ethnic Studies since his days at Harvard, Eun believes that Ethnic Studies classes should be available to all students regardless of concentration. He wants diversity to play a significantly greater role in faculty hiring, tenure and advancement.

 

Committed to public service, Eun co-chairs the Board of StreetSquash, a comprehensive youth enrichment program supporting children, families, and schools in Harlem and Newark, New Jersey. He also sits on the advisory board of PACER, a center supporting children and young adults with disabilities and their families.

Raphael William Bostic AB ’87

Raphael Bostic is president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta – the first African American and first openly gay person to head one of the Fed’s 12 regional banks. In his Questionnaire, Bostic expressed pride in his commitment to diversity at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and his fervent belief that Harvard should have a similar commitment. 

 

As a committed supporter of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and a leader dedicated to diversity in his workplace, Bostic identified key areas for Harvard to create a more inclusive and just society, proposing  new initiatives and research centers at Harvard and more effective use of its outsized influence. “Harvard must not just talk the talk; it must walk the walk,” he wrote.

 

“If we are to be a society where people truly have equal access to opportunity and, in turn, an equal opportunity to achieve and thrive, then we must establish this as a high priority," Bostic stated in his ballot bio. He has served as a Harvard Alumni Association elected director and was chosen by his 25th reunion classmates as Commencement chief marshal. We believe he is strongly positioned to bring his personal commitment to diversity and inclusion to the Board of Overseers.

Tracy K. Smith AB ’94

Two-term U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy K. Smith speaks about issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion with unparalleled compassion, conviction, and precision. As she states in her ballot bio, Smith “strives to use the power of poetry to bridge social divides and help people connect to their shared humanity.”  

 

In her Questionnaire and interview, Smith drew on her experience as professor and chair of Princeton’s Center for the Arts to comment powerfully about the wider significance of diversity in higher education: “When institutions like Harvard embrace diversity as a foundational principle, what they are doing is helping to move the nation’s cultural and moral dial from injustice toward justice.” 

 

Having improved the experience of inclusion for Princeton students in the arts, Smith has a keen understanding of the need for Ethnic Studies and what is required to achieve a concentration, department, and faculty hiring commensurate with the validity and importance of the discipline. “I don’t see this as a concession, but rather an opportunity. Some of the most rigorous and creative minds, across disciplines, are wrestling to understand the implications of human greed, environmental disregard, emotional trauma and social injustice as these things affect individuals, institutions and our very planet. Working to understand and solve the problems of our time—problems stemming from exclusion, inequity, and injustice—is a vital human enterprise.”

Thea Sebastian AB ’08, JD ’16

Thea Sebastian is a Harvard Forward candidate who writes in her ballot bio of her desire to “push Harvard to address race-based, class-based, and gender-based disparities.” While at Harvard Law School, Thea helped launch the “Conversation on Race” discussion series.  A former special ed teacher in the South Bronx, Thea is now Policy Counsel for Civil Rights Corps, where she leads efforts to unmask and dismantle structural inequality, particularly in the criminal justice system. Outside of her job, she works on voter protection issues and with indigenous peoples to fight voter suppression. 

 

In her Questionnaire, Thea compellingly advocates for Harvard to retain race-conscious admissions and increase its commitment to attracting low-income and first-generation students; establish an Ethnic Studies concentration and department; ensure that its faculty hiring process values diversity, scholarship that is absent from the curriculum, mentorship, teaching, and student evaluations; provide a living wage and benefits to all employees; and expand opportunities for public interest work. In her interview, Thea persuaded us that she will ably use her background as a lawyer, an activist, and a recent alum to work effectively with other Overseers to help Harvard lead on socially responsible and inclusive practices.

----------------------------

We are grateful that all 22 candidates responded to the Diversity Questionnaire sent to them by Diverse Harvard and the 12 alumni organizations listed below,* and we appreciate their detailed and thoughtful answers, as well as our invaluable videoconferences with all 13 Overseer candidates. The Candidate Review Committee of Diverse Harvard found that all the candidates have made stellar contributions to their communities and professions. 

Harvard will email alumni a unique link to an online ballot on July 1. Paper ballots will also be mailed by then. Online votes must be cast by 5:00 PM (ET) on Tuesday, August 18, and paper ballots must be received back in Cambridge by the same time. For ballot questions, contact Election Services Co. help desk toll-free at 1-866-720-4357 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm ET) or email harvard@electionservicescorp.com.  Please email Diverse Harvard at HarvardCoalition@gmail.com with any problems.  Please note that May 2020 grads cannot vote until next year.

Please VOTE online or by mail when you receive your ballot. Another strong showing by the Coalition will help us in our efforts to promote Ethnic Studies, race-conscious holistic admissions, and other issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. (To date, 32 candidates that we have endorsed over the past 4 years have been elected.) Thank you for supporting diversity at Harvard!

Please reach out to your Harvard alum friends and share via Twitter and Facebook, especially on your class groups or pages!

Most importantly, please take care and be well.

The Coalition for a Diverse Harvard Candidate Review Committee

Jane Sujen Bock '81, Margaret M. Chin '84, Laura Dumbach '84, Neimy Escobar '15, Kristin R. Penner '89, Debra Reed MBA '82, Nura Sediqe MPP '12, Tab Timothy Stewart '88, David Van Taylor '83, Rachel Tiven '96, Michael Williams '81

 ____________

ORGANIZATIONS SPONSORING THE DIVERSITY QUESTIONNAIRE

*Alumnae-i Network for Harvard Women

Coalition for a Diverse Harvard

First Generation Harvard Alumni

Harvard Arab Alumni Association

Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance

Harvard Black Alumni Society

Harvard Gender & Sexuality Caucus

Harvard Latino Alumni Alliance

Harvard Progressive Jewish Alumni

Harvard South Asian Alumni Alliance

Harvard Tamil Sangam Alumni

Harvard University Muslim Alumni

Native American Alumni of Harvard University

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