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Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program

“Leadership is a commitment to an idea, to a dream, and to a vision of what can be.”   Benazir Bhutto, HR’73

ClassACT brings Harvard-Radcliffe Class of 1973 classmates together to address important local, national, and international issues by initiating and supporting positive change. Consistent with this mission, ClassACT has developed the Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program (BBLP) in honor of our classmate, the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan. 

Benazir Bhutto ClassACTWhile at Harvard-Radcliffe and later at Oxford, Benazir Bhutto came to value these principles
--- democracy,
equality for women, reconciliation of religious and cultural differences,
and education without gender or religious bias ---
as governing concepts essential to successful modern societies.  Using fellowships, relationship-building, and public education as our tools, the BBLP will advance peace and human rights consistent with these principles. We plan to accomplish our goals through identifying, educating,  and supporting promising leaders from predominantly Muslim countries who share these values, and connecting them with each other.  Since women are under-represented in public service and politics in most Muslim majority countries, enhancing their lives, while improving their influence on public policy, will be critical to our success.

Benazir Bhutto said: “While I was in America for those four years, I participated and observed in a miracle of democracy—I saw the power of people changing policies, changing leaders and changing history.” Now more than ever we feel the need to illuminate and promote the core principles that made the democracy Benazir Bhutto witnessed firsthand in America vibrant and strong. As she wrote about education without gender or religious bias, “Education is the first step to success, to independence and to a satisfying life.” On equality for women: “Today in this world, in the fight for the liberation of women, there can be no neutrality.” And on reconciliation of religious and cultural differences, “There has been enough pain. It is time.”


  • To engage and support effective, creative individuals from predominantly Muslim countries  who are committed to principle-based positive change.
  • To assist leaders from all sectors of these societies in acquiring  tools they can use to succeed in working with their countrymen and women to effect change.
  • To engage HR’73 classmates and others in working together with these leaders in identifying and addressing critical leadership issues.
  • To improve the American public’s understanding of leadership challenges within these countries. 
We expect Fellows and Associates of the BBLP to return to their home countries (or work in support of change from outside the country, if return is not an option) and apply what they have learned to catalyze reforms.  ClassACT will work with Fellows and Associates to create a significant network of leaders, who can enhance each other’s success during their BBLP experience at Harvard, and in subsequent years.

Fellows and Associates will benefit from the culture of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (HKS), the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (WCFIA), Harvard University, and the United States, as well as from the connections that they make with other like-minded leaders from all over the world. Strong relationship development is a cornerstone of the program.

In the initial years of the Program there will be particular emphasis on attracting women to the Fellowships. Nonetheless, all aspects of the BBLP will be designed for men and women, who have demonstrated leadership potential, and who are open-minded, passionate, brave, and bold— to arm them with an education, a network, and a broad array of tools to address the needs of successful modern societies.


The Pilot Program for the BBLP begins in 2018 with a one-year fellowship housed at the Mason Program of HKS for mid-career scholars. ClassACT believes that a residential, academic experience at Harvard offers opportunities not only for exposure to guidance and challenge from teachers and peers, but also the social immersion that creates lasting relationships. For information on how to apply for the HKS ClassACT HR1973 Graduate Leadership Program Fellowship in Honor of Benazir Bhutto, search "ClassACT" in Harvard Kennedy School's Funding Resource Database. For more information on the Mason Program, visit the MC/MPA Edward S. Mason Program webpage

Other Pilot Program options may include shorter joint initiatives with Benazir Bhutto’s other alma mater, Oxford University, as well as other leadership initiatives, such as the Eisenhower Fellowships.

Leadership Team

Advisory Board

 Sanam Bhutto
 Kimball Chen
 Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
 Al Franken
 Peter Galbraith
 Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend

Steering Committee

John Q. Adams
 Ann Bailen Fisher
 Robert Bowie
 Rick Brotman
 Kimball Chen
 Marion Dry, Director*
 Hamilton Fish
 Peter Galbraith
 Sallie Gouverneur*
 Leigh Hafrey*
 Terry Hunt
 Andrea Kirsh
 Barbara Brosius Lindsay
Stanley Mark*
 Bahman Mossavar-Rahmani*

 Carl Muller*
 George Putnam*
 Jonathan Sprague*
 Therese Steiner*
 Holly Weeks

*ClassACT Board

Outreach: The Network and Public Education

The Network: The Network was created at the request of the first BBLP Associates. The BBLP Network is the working group of the Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program. It includes Associates and Fellows, the BBLP Steering Committee, the Mentor/Advisors, the ClassACT Board, and the Advisory Board. The connecting tissue of the Network is collaborative work to promote the BBLP mission. Strong relationship development is a cornerstone of the Network.

The Associates: Scholars studying in Harvard graduate programs who come from these regions and whose goals are aligned with the principles of this program have been and will be invited to participate in the Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program as Associates. Associates provide advice to shape the BBLP and help build a larger network of leaders, while at Harvard and later, in the field. They, like the Fellows, are part of the BBLP Network and will have access to the Mentor/Advisor program of BBLP. The Associates and Fellows provide collegiality, intellectual capital, and support to one another. ClassACT aims to add eight to ten new Associates per year, resulting in growing a community of Associates and Fellows quickly during the start-up phase.

The Fellows: Those who have received the HKS ClassACT HR1973 Graduate Leadership Program Fellowship in Honor of Benazir Bhutto. Fellows provide advice to shape the BBLP and help build a larger network of leaders, while at Harvard and later, in the field.  They, like the Associates, are part of the BBLP Network and will have access to the Mentor/Advisor program of BBLP. The Fellows and Associates provide collegiality, intellectual capital, and support to one another. 

The Mentor/Advisors: We match the Fellows' and Associates’ interests and leadership development needs with appropriate HR'73 classmates and their networks, to serve as advisors or mentors. HR'73 classmates, including members of the BBLP Steering Committee and others, will serve in advisory capacities to Associates and Fellows. It is important to note that Associates and Fellows may also serve in an advisory capacity to members of HR'73 and to one another, and that these relationships are mutually beneficial.  Opportunities may include: 

  • Access to Orientation and program elements at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs
  • HR'73 classmate-, HKS-, and WCFIA-facilitated connections in the US and other countries
  • Access to advisors and mentors once Fellows and Associates have returned to their work/countries 
  • Group meetings with leaders, advisors, influence makers from HR'73 and others in their networks
  • Regular gatherings of Associates, while in Cambridge, to build personal relationships and share knowledge and experience
  • Opportunities to attend conferences/events in other locations

Public Education: The BBLP public education component is developing with input from Fellows and Associates to promote understanding in the American public. This effort includes presentations in conjunction with HKS and the Weatherhead Center and outreach to Harvard alumni, and may extend to programs for children and teens.


ClassACT views this diversified program as a start-up of a highly innovative venture. We have launched the Associates, the Network, Mentor/Advisor, and Public Education programs, and in Fall 2018, the BBLP will be financially supporting its first fellow(s). 

As the founding sponsor, ClassACT guides overall BBLP development and implementation, raises seed capital and evaluates the program. When proof of concept and value are clear, we will assess operational and financial strategies for supporting a long-term, sustainable program.

ClassACT HR ‘73

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