Diversity Questionnaire Response
Candidate for Elected Director
Director, Alumni Career and Professional Development, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
Los Angeles, California
1. How important should diversity be at Harvard? What strategies should the University pursue regarding this? (Please discuss specific programs and policies if you can.)
It is critically important for Harvard to foster diversity which encompasses race and ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, culture, religion, physical abilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The University should pursue this in part via affirmative action in admissions. I think the free tuition for students coming from families earning less than $65,000 per year has helped transform the student body, with 20% of the undergraduates paying no tuition. It has been gratifying to see the student body diversify as a result of this. The University has become a different and better place as a result. It’s also important to put structured programs in place to enable students coming from diverse backgrounds to thrive. For many students, coming to Harvard may be the first time they’ve been on a college campus. These students will need financial assistance to cover the cost of housing and travel for summer internships, winternships, jobs or treks during the school. I learned a lot from re-connecting with my little brother from the PBH Big Brother/Big Sister program this summer after 28 years. He received a scholarship to the Buxton School in Williamstown, MA. He came from Roosevelt Towers in East Cambridge. He didn’t have money to do his laundry and even getting to school was an odyssey since his family didn’t have a car and paying for a bus ticket was an extra expense as was returning home for school vacation. It’s important that there is programming and assistance to allow Harvard students to feel like a valued and included part of the university. Harvard needs to pursue diversity within its faculty, administrators, and alumni as well so that everyone feels welcomed.
2. How can Harvard encourage more diversity among its alumni leaders and activities? (If not discussed above.)
The Harvard Alumni Association needs to actively recruit diverse alumni leaders to participate in and lead clubs, SIGs, and the HAA. Bridges need to be built between the alumni and student and young alumni communities so that students and young alumni can understand the benefits of becoming alumni leaders. There should be formal mentoring programs set up to recruit diverse alumni leaders not just for SIGs, but also for broad-based alumni roles. It might be an interesting question to ask on the next alumni survey to better understand if and why there is an engagement gap. It would be helpful for some of the SIGs to create a document outlining best practices in connecting with diverse alumni and making them active alumni leaders.
3. Please state your views on affirmative action and race-conscious admissions.
I’m in favor of affirmative action and race-conscious admissions. I think all Harvard students benefit from living in a diverse environment.
4. What do you think Harvard's role should be in creating a more equitable, inclusive and just society?
As a pre-eminent university, Harvard plays a leading role in creating a more equitable, inclusive, and just society. Many other universities follow Harvard’s lead so Harvard’s role is more important. In addition, students pursue so many different paths when leaving Harvard including medicine, law, business, education, government, and non-profit. Their experiences of living in a diverse environment like Harvard may push them to create diverse environments in their organizations, which will help create a more equitable, inclusive, and just society.
5. What steps have you taken to bring diversity and inclusion to your workplace or to an organization that you have been involved with?
I have helped make my workplaces more diverse and inclusive. As an undergraduate at Harvard, I served as a Big Brother for four years in the Big Brother/Big Sister Program at Phillips Brooks House. I was Co-Chairman of the program and helped run it at Roosevelt Towers, Newtowne Court, and Jefferson Park. I reconnected this past summer with my little brother via Facebook when his wife reached out to me and we discovered that we live half a mile apart in Los Angeles. I was thrilled to learn of the impact I had on his life. His son is a First Generation freshman at University of Pennsylvania. We remain in touch. I also served as a tutor for a blind student who later died of cancer at the Bureau of Study Counsel. Both of these experiences helped shape me immeasurably.
I have helped to recruit diverse candidates when serving as an interviewer for the Kellogg School of Management. We have been actively trying to increase the number of women and underrepresented minority students at the business school. I hired a Muslim-American friend to be the Director of Career Services for EMBA and E&W MBA students at Kellogg.
At UCLA Anderson, I volunteered time on Saturdays to provide career services and self-assessment exercises for Latinos and other underrepresented students participating in the Riordan Fellows Program at UCLA Anderson. https://www.anderson.ucla.edu/programs-and-outreach/riordan-programs/riordan-mba-fellows
I currently serve or have served on the Advisory Boards of three companies founded by women and one company founded by an African-American:
IRelaunch.com – helps women re-enter the workforce after a career break (https://www.irelaunch.com/advisory-board)
Weil & Wein – provides career coaching to students (https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/board.asp?privcapId=285445123)
ReacHire – helps connect women with companies when re-entering the workforce – past advisory board member (www.reachire.com)
BetterWeekdays – helps connect university recruiters with diverse talent – past advisory board member (www.betterweekdays.com)
I have served as a Faculty Advisor for the past five years at Kellogg for our GIM (Global Initiatives in Management) class, where MBA students study a particular country or region for a quarter and then we travel as a class to the region for two weeks. For many students, this class is the highlight of the MBA program. I am taking a group of 38 students to Cambodia and Vietnam this March. We will visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and have meetings with 7 companies. In one day in Mumbai, students were able to observe two very different environments by participating on a walking tour of Dharavi and having dinner on the rooftop of a billionaire's home. Past classes/trips have focused on Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai, Israel, Jordan, India, Japan, Korea, Myanmar, and Vietnam.