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Coalition for a Diverse Harvard Endorses Five Board of Overseers Candidates

The Harvard Corporation, the University's highest governing body, meets in Loeb House.
The Harvard Corporation, the University's highest governing body, meets in Loeb House. By Quinn G. Perini
By Jasper G. Goodman and Kelsey J. Griffin, Crimson Staff Writers

The Coalition for a Diverse Harvard — an alumni group centered on increasing diversity and promoting equity at the University — endorsed five candidates for this year’s Board of Overseers election and six candidates for elected directorships on the board of the Harvard Alumni Association on Wednesday.

The Board of Overseers serves as the University’s second highest governing body. The Harvard Alumni Association Nominating Committee named eight candidates for the five anticipated vacancies on the Board, and three additional candidates backed by Harvard Forward — a student and alumni organization working to call attention to climate action and racial justice issues within the University’s governance boards — joined the ballot through a petition process.

The Coalition endorsed U.S. Circuit Judge Raymond J. Lohier Jr. ’88, Vote Latino founding president and CEO María T. Kumar, business executive and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheryl WuDunn, United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance Mark J. Carney ’87, and global health specialist Yvette O. Efevbera.

This marks the sixth year the Coalition has endorsed candidates for the Board of Overseers election.

Ten other alumni organizations co-signed the Coalition’s endorsements: First Generation Harvard Alumni, Harvard Arab Alumni Association, Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance, Harvard Black Alumni Society, Harvard Gender and Sexuality Caucus, Harvard Latino Alumni Alliance, Harvard Progressive Jewish Alumni, Harvard South Asian Alumni Alliance, Harvard Tamil Sangam Alumni, and Harvard University Muslim Alumni.

The Coalition’s endorsements were determined by a 10-person candidate review committee that conducted video interviews and reviewed answers to a diversity questionnaire to determine its selections, according to Michael G. Williams ’81, who serves on the organization’s board.

Of the 11 candidates endorsed this year, eight are members of the Coalition. All but one of the Coalition’s endorsed Board of Overseers candidates belong to the organization.

The Coalition’s priorities include the developing ethnic studies programming at Harvard, promoting race-conscious admissions policies, and urging greater transparency from the Overseers.

“When we look at the five people that we’ve endorsed, we really think it’s a powerhouse group,” Williams said. “We think that this group of five candidates really can play a very important role in the Overseers in terms of the mission of the Coalition.”

The Coalition only backed one of the candidates who joined the ballot by petition, Efevbera.

“Doctor Efevbera was, and is, a stellar candidate, in part because of her very longstanding connections to the University,” Williams said. “She, obviously, is a member of the three people running through Harvard Forward, but for her in particular, we felt that she had a very strong contribution that she would be able to make as an Overseer on the issues related to diversity, inclusion, and equity.”

The other two candidates supported by Harvard Forward — Megan H. Red Shirt-Shaw and Natalie Unterstell — did not receive an endorsement from the Coalition.

“We’re thrilled that the Coalition has decided to recognize Yvette’s inspiring work by choosing to support her candidacy,” Harvard Forward co-founder Nathán Goldberg Crenier ’18 wrote in a statement. “At the same time, all three of our candidates are fully committed to ensuring that diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as racial and climate justice, are guiding values of the university, and their track records in their respective fields speak for themselves.”

The Coalition also endorsed six candidates for the Harvard Alumni Association’s elected directorships, including television writer and producer Margaret Williams “Maiya” Verrone ’84, human resources business partner at Curriculum Associates Hannah M. Park ’13, spaceport development lead at SpaceX’s south Texas launch site Jane A. Labanowski ’17, Founding Director of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT Tenzin Priyadarshi, CareDx senior director of business development George A. Thampy ’10, and ViacomCBS executive Whitney S. F. Baxter ’07.

Elections are scheduled to open April 1 and close May 18 and will be conducted both online and through traditional paper ballots. All Harvard degree holders will be eligible to vote in the Overseers election, with the exception of members of the Harvard Corporation and alumni currently in University instruction or governance positions.

—Staff writer Kelsey J. Griffin can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @kelseyjgriffin.

—Staff writer Jasper G. Goodman can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Jasper_Goodman.

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