History and Results
ClassACT began in 2013. Marion Dry and Jonathan Sprague interviewed nearly 50 members of HR 1973 to gauge interest in developing opportunities for classmates to work together to create change. After some refinement, Jonathan and Marion discussed the initial concept plan with representatives of Harvard Alumni Association, posted it to the Class website, linked it to mailings for the Class’s Fortieth Reunion, and distributed it with reunion registration packets. Over a hundred classmates attended two informational/ discussion meetings at the Reunion, and two focal points emerged: a strong desire for collaboration to address local, national, and international issues and the determination to create opportunities for classmates to connect or reconnect to expand their relationships. Post-reunion, we conducted two surveys; one of individuals who had been interviewed and/or attended the reunion meetings, and another was distributed to all classmates for whom Harvard had email addresses. These surveys identified strong interest in pursuing ClassACT concepts, willingness to participate in various projects, and a wide range of suggestions for possible actions.
What we've done so far:
Formed Board of Directors and gained IRS-approved 501(c)3 not-for-profit status.
Held events or hosted weekend gatherings in New Orleans, Washington, D.C., the San Francisco Bay area, Chicago, New York, and Cambridge/Boston focused on various classmate-sponsored nonprofit Bridges, including Justice Aid, White Pony Express, Roots of Music, and Treme Neighborhood Association.
Connected classmates with specific skill areas to other classmates with nonprofits needing help, such as Andrea Kirsh advising Yeou-cheng Ma’s Children’s Orchestra Society (NYC) and Rob Lawrence advising White Pony Express.
For the Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program, our first Class Act, participated in a Harvard Club of the North Shore event with a talk by Peter Galbraith attended by over 100 alumni and guests, and co-hosted (with the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs) an Assembly entitled “Leading in the Muslim World: What would Benazir Do Today,” convened by Jacqueline Bhabha, Harvard Law and Public Health professor and human rights lawyer, and featuring expert panelists as well as HR73 classmates and Bhutto Program scholars for morning and afternoon panels. View the videos here. Our next Weatherhead Assembly is in the planning stages, to be held April 12, 2019.
Convened an Advisory Panel and Steering Committee for the Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program (BBLP) --- the fellowship for which will support Mason Fellows program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government --- and developed relationships with current mid-career and other scholars at HKS and elsewhere at Harvard. The Fellowship has been established and we welcomed two Fellows to HKS in the Fall of 2018.
Convened classmates with expertise in environmental issues, with a view to identifying a specific issue or issues among the many that need attention.
Convened classmates with interest in human rights issues, sponsoring a Jeffersonian Dinner related to judicial reform with overcrowded prisons as the topic, in New York in the spring of 2018.
Working with the Radcliffe Institute, we helped organize classmates to sponsor the Rama Mehta Lecture, focused on women in developing countries, during our 45th Reunion year.
Facilitated a connection between physician classmates in order to implement world-class, free pediatric diagnostic software for a multi-site pediatric clinic in Costa Rica.
Shared news of all these activities with classmates via our Facebook page, Save the Date emails and invitations, and many ClassACT Chronicles and Bulletin newsletters.
The Board meets monthly by telephone and has held 3 retreats; we completed our third November 10-12, 2017 and have scheduled another for December 7-9, 2018.