A Harvard Who’s, Who?

Posted by Anthony Worku
(@Anthony Worku)

While all of the panelists, speakers, and organizers at the Harvard Social Enterprise conference were inspiring, a few truly stood out to us. It wasn’t just the inspirational and moving messages that this group conveyed, or their ability to execute one of the most well-run conferences we’ve yet to attend. So what do all of these #Disrupters have in common? They are all Harvard change catalysts.

Name: Jen Smith
The 411: Co-Chair @ SECON 2017. Public Policy Student @ Harvard Kennedy School.
Why You Should Know Her: During Smith’s time teaching 8th grade English for Teach for America, she recognized the various pain points associated with education. This understanding led to her decision of pursuing Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. This #Disurpter was one of the forces behind the SECON 2017 conference, as she led the team of amazing panelists and organizers. When it comes to social impact, knowledge distribution matters. Smith opens the door of knowledge, making it accessible to all aspiring change-makers. Teacher turned change catalyst at Harvard, that is inspiring.

Name: Reilly Kiernan
The 411: Co-Chair @ SECON 2017. Student @ Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School.
Why You Should Know Her: Kiernan has a background in nonprofit consulting and is researching impact across sectors, social justice and organizational effectiveness. Her passion to bring social enterprise of all kinds to the forefront was very clear at one of the conference panels where she was the organizer. Kiernan took time to address the importance of representing people from all walks of life and all socioeconomic statuses, on the panels at the conference. Keirnan recognizes that meaningful social change occurs when a diverse group of people are able to sit down and meet at the same level. Let this be a reminder that this #Disrupter mindset should be embraced at all conferences.

Name: Rajit Kumar
The 411: Programming & Marketing @ SECON 2017. MBA Student @ Harvard Business School.
Why You Should Know Him: Passionate about business and social change, Kumar worked towards building a data-driven decision making culture at the Central Square Foundation, a K-12 education foundation in India. His passion for decision making, and social change were perfectly married at SECON where he played an instrumental part in helping the press become acquainted with the workings of the events before and during the conference. One of the best ways knowledge can be distributed for those who do not have access to a prestigious education is by involving press, from grassroots publications to periodicals of the mainstream.

Name: Ketty Lie
The 411: Operations Organizer @ SECON 2017. Joint-Degree Student @ Harvard Kennedy School & Harvard Business School.
Why You Should Know Her: Lie works to improve labor quality through training and education. When we sat down and spoke with Lie she told us, “In power I really believe as a Harvard student, we have a lot of resources. It is really our responsibility to use our resources and privileges here to give back to the community.” It takes a genuine social justice champion to recognize the platform they have, and use that platform to ignite real change. Lie had a mission in mind when she came back from working at the grassroots level in Indonesia to attend Harvard Kennedy School. #Disrupters like Lie are vital in creating a movement that can extend beyond Harvard’s conference rooms.

Name: Doug Lavey
The 411: Director of Programming @ SECON 2017. Public Policy Student @ Harvard Kennedy School.
Why You Should Know Him: Lavey is focusing on innovation, technology and public policy, particularly as they relate to digital governance and entrepreneurship. When we spoke to Lavey he told us about the importance of inclusiveness. He said, “I think for a lot of people, it is hard to find a lot of like-minded folks, the people who you consider colleagues and coworkers, not competitors. We are just trying to make the world a better place. That is going to get you up in the morning. That is going to get you through the long nights. That is for people all over the world.” A true #Disrupter recognizes the power of insiders opening the door for outsiders. Lavey is proof that true change cannot begin without a strong level of inclusivity.

Name: Colleen Kelly
The 411: Program Manager @ Harvard Social Innovation & Change Initiative. Supports the Social Innovation and Change Initiative by helping students find solutions for social justice issues.
Why You Should Know Her: Not only does Colleen invest her time and intellectual knowledge to support education on global philanthropy, but she also empowers non-profit leaders through an executive program at Harvard. Check out Kelly’s report, Prosperity to Purpose, which investigates philanthropy and social investment in six Latin American countries. The paper aims to shed light on the characteristic of philanthropy in this region specifically because of the innate giving nature of the Latin American people. Kelly’s study is magnificently important because in understanding the Latin American people and telling their story, she is creating a blueprint for all people so that they can embrace philanthropy in a successful way. Her work highlights the importance of understanding the culture of the community you serve.

Name: Marta Milkowska
The 411: Former Social Enterprise Specialist at the World Bank Innovation Labs. Founded the very first Harvard Social Innovation Studio.
Why You Should Know Her: Milkowska founded several award-winning social ventures including Dignify, an app that links refugees to digital micro-work. She also helped implement $330 million dollars worth of innovation programs across Asia and Africa. We admire Milkowska and her drive to bring technology to some of the regions that need it most. Milowska uses her entrepreneurial spirit to create a knowledge center. This is important because it creates a place for like-minded social justice activists to come together and formulate ideas that will in turn change the world.

Name: Howard Cohen
The 411t: Global Outreach @ Vox Pop Labs. Helped create Vote Compass, an award-winning civic engagement app.
Why You Should Know Him: An alum from CNN, CBS News, and the UN, this Harvard grad student has recently gained recognition for Vote Compass. The app has reached millions of voters globally and helped increase youth voter turnout in the 2016 election. With the current world climate, issues like increasing the amount of youth voters will be come increasingly important. We need #Disrupters like Cohen because it starts from the ground up. During the conference, Cohen spoke to the fake news epidemic and how technology can be used to prevent false news stories from spreading. His app keeps candidates honest by fact-checking them during their debates. We hope that social media platforms take the same initiative as Cohen in their quest to eliminate fake news from our feeds.

Name: Jeff Glen
The 411: Doctor of Public Health Student @ Harvard University. Glen studies health systems and entrepreneurship, primarily focusing on health financing in South Africa and health policy reform in Myanmar.
Why You Should Know Him: Glen works with Alive & Thrive, a nutrition program that focuses on sustainability assessment in Bangladesh and Vietnam. Long term sustainability for food security needs to embrace the nutritional value and well-being of the community it serves. #Disrupters like Jeff bring the out-of-the-box thinking that is desperately needed in the famine aid model. We need champions like Glen to advocate for all causes that effect the human race as well as the globe.

Name: Hazami Barmada
The 411: Public Affairs and Strategy Consultant, Social Innovator and Social Justice Activist. Advisor to several NGOs and philanthropy initiatives.
Why You Should Know Her: Barmada has worked as an advisor for Save the Children, and TechGirls. Once you are an insider, it is paramount that you share the knowledge you acquired. Barmada embraces this #Disrupter mindset. Activists like Barmada bring worlds of knowledge to the boardroom. The activism mindset needs to be represented at the highest level of decision making. Social justice reform starts by embracing inclusion at the top.

Name: Farai Chideya
The 411: Reporter, Political & Cultural Analyst, and Educator. A fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.
Why You Should Know Her: Chideya received recognition for her presidential election reporting (she has covered every election since 1996). She has also received several additional awards recognizing her amazing reporting skills, including an award from the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association for her coverage on the AIDS epidemic. Considering the issues that have come to light regarding fake news, we must look to people like Chideya to stay well-informed. We are so lucky to have people like her paving the way for other journalists. Journalists all have the responsibility to give voices to the voiceless, and Chideya embodies this #Disrupter mindset.


Name: Meighan Stone
The 411: Serves on the Board of social entrepreneur startup, Pencils of Promise. The Shorenstein Entrepreneurship Fellow @ Harvard Kennedy School.
Why You Should Know Her: Stone has a versatile background in the world of social enterprise. She has managed projects for the likes of Bono’s ONE Campaign and the World Economic Forum. Most recently she served as the president to the Nobel Prize-winning Malala Yousafzai’s Malala Fund. The fund empowers women on a global scale by providing quality secondary education. Yousafzai is an incredibly inspiring woman that clearly surrounds herself with social justice warriors of the same caliber. When women are empowered, they change the world in a meaningful way. Stone is a role model for social entrepreneurs and is a major #girlboss. Snaps for Stone.

Name: Nien-He Hsieh
The 411: Associate Professor of Business Administration @ Harvard Business School. Teaches Leadership and Corporate Accountability in the Program for Leadership Development.
Why You Should Know Him: Hsieh actively researches business ethics and the responsibilities of global business leaders. Holding businesses we consume products from accountable for ethical behavior and social responsibility is a consumers right. We need people like Hsieh to create a transparency model and to be our advocate at the highest level of leadership. Hsieh acts as the bridge between the bottom and the top, and serves his community by making sure all of our voices are heard.


Facts for this article were sourced from the Harvard Social Enterprise Conference and from their website. Check it out here >>