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Business and society: capitalism today

Thursday, May 2, 2024

On Thursday, May 2nd, ClassACT HR73 presented the forum: Business and Society: Capitalism Today. Capitalism has been a remarkable engine for growth and development, creating massive wealth, significant increases in productivity, and powerful new technologies.We should not assume, though, that capitalism will last forever, or always be the world’s primary economic system. Wealth and healthcare inequality, climate change, old age and retirement issues are now often associated with capitalism. Our panelists examined the benefits and issues inherent in the system, looking at the interplay of markets, governmental referees, and civil society.

Focusing on businesses large and small, including the energy and tech sectors, panelists Roger Ferguson ’73, Howard Keenan ’73, Nick Sakellariadis ’73 and Gwill York ’79, led by moderator Leigh Hafrey ’73, explored these issues in the national, global and cultural contexts.


We have created 9 videos from this conversation, including one of the whole event. They are all available by clicking on the playlist in the YouTube video screen below. The playlist is very hard to see! You will find it along the top of the screen just to the right of the title of the forum. It looks like this ≡.

Click on the ≡ button. That will open a drop down menu. You can then scroll down the menu and choose individual videos to play.



    Senior Lecturer, Ethics and Communication

    MIT Sloan School of Management

    Leigh Hafrey is Senior Lecturer in Behavioral and Policy Sciences at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Since 1995, he has offered courses in communication, ethics, and leadership in the MBA and other graduate programs in the U.S. and abroad. He has also taught at Harvard Business School; served as co-Master of Mather House in Harvard College; and for over 25 years has moderated seminars in programs of the Aspen Institute, an international educational and policy studies organization focused on values-driven leadership.

    A former staff editor at The New York Times Book Review, Hafrey has published translations, columns, feature articles, essays, reviews, and interviews in The New York Times and other periodicals, as well as blog posts and business case studies for MIT Sloan. He is the author of The Story of Success: Five Steps to Mastering Ethics in Business (2005) and War Stories: Fighting, Competing, Imagining, Leading (2016). He holds a B.A. from Harvard College and a Ph.D. from Yale University. See details at


      Past President & CEO, TIAA

      Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., is the Steven A. Tananbaum Distinguished Fellow for International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the Immediate Past President and CEO of TIAA. Prior to joining TIAA, Mr. Ferguson was head of financial services for Swiss Re and Chairman of Swiss Re America Holding Corporation. Mr. Ferguson is the former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System. He began his career as an attorney at the New York City office of Davis Polk & Wardwell and was an Associate and Partner at McKinsey & Company. Mr. Ferguson is a member of the Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He serves on the boards of Alphabet, Inc.; Corning, Inc.; and International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. Mr. Ferguson is also active as an advisor and board member with various private fintech companies. He serves on the boards of the Institute for Advanced Study, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and other non for profits. Mr. Ferguson holds a B.A., J.D., and a Ph.D. in economics, all from Harvard University.

      W. HOWARD KEENAN JR. '73

      Co-Founder, Yorktown Partners

      Howard co-founded Yorktown and has more than 40 years of experience in the financial and energy businesses. From 1975 to 1997, he was in the Corporate Finance Department of Dillon, Read & Co. and was active in the private equity and energy areas, including Yorktown’s spinout from Dillon Read in 1997. Howard serves on the boards of directors of the following public companies: Antero Resources Corporation, Antero Midstream Corporation, Aris Water Solutions and Solaris Oilfield Infrastructure. In addition, he is serving or has served as a director of various non-public companies in which Yorktown partnerships hold equity interests.

      Howard holds a BA from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

      From the forum, Howard recommends the following *resources:

      *Please note that all panelists' views are their own, and do not necessarily reflect those of ClassACT HR73.


      Principal Owner, Dayton Dragons

      Nick is the Cochair and Principal Owner of the Dayton Dragons, a minor league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team. The Dragons have the longest consecutive sell-out streak in the history of American sports (23 years). Nick also serves as a member of the Executive Board of Minor League Baseball. Prior to that, he had a 35-year career in investment banking at Citigroup-related companies.

      Nick currently serves on the Harvard College Fund Executive Committee, where he was a former Cochair. He is Cochair of the John Harvard Society, fundraising Cochair of the Harvard College Class of 1973, fundraising Cochair of the Harvard Law School Class of 1977, and a member of the Major Gifts Committee of the Harvard Business School Class of 1977. He also served on the Alumni Board of HBS and is a member of the Harvard Alumni Association’s Crimson Society. He has also served in board positions with the New York Botanical Garden, Phoenix Country Day School, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, and the American Board of Athens College.

      GWILL YORK '79

      Co-Founder and Managing Director, Light Partners

      Gwill is co-founder and managing director of Lighthouse Capital Partners. Since its founding in 1994, Lighthouse has committed over $2 billion in capital to over 500 companies in six limited partnerships. She led investments in biotech, medical devices and services, information technology, communications equipment, e-commerce, Internet infrastructure, semiconductors, software, and clean tech companies. Gwill served on the Board of the New England Venture Capital Association for 9 years until 2014.

      In 2018, she joined the Board of Directors of Sofina, a public investment company based in Brussels and Singapore, investing globally in entrepreneurs and family businesses directly and indirectly through leading venture and private equity firms.

      Since moving to the Boston area over 30 years ago, Gwill has committed significant time to mission driven organizations including as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Science, Chair of the Board of Fellows at Harvard Medical School, President of the Board of Trustees of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and member of the Boards of Trustees of Mass General Brigham, One Mind, BB&N School, and the Women’s Foundation of Boston.

      Gwill was appointed an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School for four years until her election to the Board of Overseers of Harvard University in 2013. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and lives with her husband and near her two grown sons in Cambridge, MA. She started her career at Salomon Brothers, Fidelity Investments and Comdisco Ventures.

          ClassACT HR ‘73

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