BOSTON—Four members of the Harvard Business School MBA Class of 2014 and two graduating doctoral candidates have been named winners of the School’s prestigious Dean’s Award. They will all be recognized by HBS Dean Nitin Nohria at Commencement ceremonies on the HBS campus.
The MBA winners are Greg Adams, Tara Hagan, Ana Mendy, and Cory Rothschild. Matthew Lee and Everett Spain will each receive the HBS Doctoral Programs Dean’s Award.
“All these students have made enormous and long-lasting contributions to the sense of community that is so essential to the HBS experience,” said Dean Nohria. “And the impact of their efforts often extends beyond this campus to the rest of Harvard University and to Boston as well. From making the orientation program at the start of the MBA Program a more meaningful and enjoyable experience to improving the inclusiveness of our community to literally saving lives, these young men and women have shown themselves to be extraordinarily capable and caring leaders. We are proud to recognize them and their many achievements with this important award. They have already begun to fulfill the Harvard Business School’s mission of educating leaders who make a difference in the world.”
A Green Beret commander in Afghanistan, Greg Adams helped created a support and communications network for veterans at HBS and the entire University. From the Harbus to the Women’s Student Association, Tara Hagan worked tirelessly on many fronts to improve and enrich the HBS experience. Ana Mendy’s efforts on behalf of the Leadership & Values Committee and the LGBT Student Association helped make HBS a truly inclusive community. A Student Association stalwart, Cory Rothschild helped develop events that brought the entire student body together and co-created a program that got the school year off to a great start.
A leader in the School’s Doctoral Programs, Matthew Lee advised other DBA candidates, added a new twist to Thanksgiving, and also had an entrepreneurial impact on undergraduates “across the river.” A colonel in the U.S. Army who played a key role in veterans’ activities throughout the University, without regard for his own safety, Everett Spain saved lives when tragedy struck at last year’s Boston Marathon.
The four MBA Dean's Award winners are as follows:
Greg Adams has been described as a “humble leader of character who has made a difference at Harvard Business School and throughout the Harvard University community over the past three years.” A West Point graduate and Bronze Star recipient, he had a distinguished career in the U.S. Army as a soldier–diplomat, most recently serving as a Special Forces (“Green Beret”) commander in Afghanistan. Greg has spent the past three years as a joint-degree candidate, pursuing an MBA at HBS and a master’s in public administration and international development at the Harvard Kennedy School. As one classmate has described him, “Throughout his time at Harvard, Greg has continued to lead and serve others.”
Last year, after realizing that there was no University-wide, on-campus organization to bring the various veteran clubs, ROTC, and veteran alumni groups together towards common goals, Greg helped create the Harvard Veterans Organization (HVO). Its purpose is to better incorporate students with military backgrounds into the broader University community by facilitating communication and enabling them to continue to serve others. According to one nominator for the Award, “Greg’s efforts have resulted in finding over 400 of Harvard’s past, present, and future veterans, including faculty, staff, students, and family members, and connecting them into a wonderful group within the larger University community.”
Greg serves as a director and helps write and distribute monthly email newsletters to the HVO members that include news about upcoming events, information about veterans and ROTC students on campus, points of contact for applicable military organizations operating in the Greater Boston area, and stories from Harvard’s rich military history. He also hosts monthly get-togethers for veterans and members of the military and ROTC across the University, especially leadership from the different clubs and alumni organizations. One HVO member commented, “Greg’s active and selfless leadership has resulted in a much more integrative and supportive campus for veterans, as well as a civilian student body that has been, and will continue to be, more thoughtfully exposed to the military.”
Beyond improving communications, Greg supported a one-on-one mentorship program for the 25 Harvard College and Extension School ROTC undergraduates. As one ROTC student commented, “The HVO is the ROTC’s biggest support system. Without it, there wouldn't be a connection between the ROTC and the rest of campus. Greg puts in so much effort to give ROTC students and veterans alike a voice across all of Harvard.”
In the eyes of her classmates, Tara Hagan is “a giving all-star who has contributed to creating a positive community at HBS.” Her impact on campus has been described as “obvious and tangible.” She was the driving force behind the Women’s Student Association’s “Manbassadors” program, helped lead the HBS Show in her first year as director and second year as co-president and supported the LGBT community by taking the helm of the School’s Allies club, a group of straight supporters comprising HBS students and partners who work toward creating a supportive environment on campus.
Tara has been recognized for contributing to the Harbus (the HBS student newspaper), working with the HBS admissions staff to revamp marketing videos and reach out to prospective and admitted students, executing various portrait projects, and tutoring sectionmates in preparation for the first-year required course in Financial Reporting and Control. As one nominator commented, “I haven’t met any other person at the School who dedicates more energy to the community, the students, and campus life writ large than Tara. She does so many things and never asks for credit.” She has been described as a person who leads by example, letting others shine while pushing them to work hard and do their best.
Tara won praise from her classmates and others at HBS for her work to engage more men in the gender discussion on campus by guiding the Manbassadors program, whose mission is “to actively engage male students and partners at HBS in a productive, ongoing conversation about gender issues and to involve male students in the Women’s Student Association.” Within the first month of the program’s launch, two hundred men signed up, and many credit the explosive growth of the program to Tara’s leadership capabilities and ability to bring people together.
Just as Hagan has been a champion for gender equality at HBS, she has also worked tirelessly to support the LGBT community through her co-presidency of the Allies club. As one of the co-presidents of the LGBT Student Association (LGBTSA) noted, “Tara has done a phenomenal job of helping move the needle on campus for support of LGBTSA issues.”
One nominator concluded, “The Dean’s Award commends, among other things, positive impact on the community, leadership, and exceptional acts. I cannot imagine anyone else on campus doing more to exemplify these characteristics than Tara.”
Ana Mendy was elected Leadership and Values (L&V) representative for Section A, serves as co-president of the School’s LGBT Student Association (LGBTSA), and in the eyes of her classmates, “makes HBS a better place for everybody around her.” As one nominator commented, “She carries this load with incredible grace and still manages to make an outstanding contribution in the classroom.”
Ana has spent much of her extracurricular time at Harvard Business School promoting “mutual respect, honesty and integrity, and personal accountability”-- the backbone of HBS’s Community Values and the underlying mantra of the 20-member Leadership and Values Committee to which she was elected as a first-year student and that she co-chaired during her second year. As an L&V rep, she introduced an innovative program called “Evolve,” a feedback, reflection, and accountability group for interested members of the section. According to a sectionmate who participated, it was “an impactful and innovative series of sessions.” This year, Ana created an Evolve handbook for all first-year L&V reps and expanded the series so that other sections could have similar groups, a testament to her commitment to enriching the lives of all her HBS classmates.
According to a member of Section A’s leadership group, “Ana was an essential member of the team, implementing, among other things, a happiness survey to give us valuable insights into the feelings of the section.” He added, “Ana made everyone feel at home. She is well known for her great leadership skill, courage, and empathy.”
Ana is also seen as a champion for the LGBT community. This year, the LGBTSA enjoyed its largest membership ever, and Ana was a catalyst in starting the first Harvard Graduate School LGBTQ conference, in partnership with the Law School and Kennedy School and with the help of the Divinity and Medical Schools. She then, along with co-chairs, put together a 20-person organizing team to make the conference a reality. As one faculty nominator commented, “It was, by all accounts, a smashing success, with more than 400 attendees from across and outside the University. The program and speakers were remarkable, deeply empowering for both HBS and the Harvard University community and exposing a new side of the Harvard schools to many people outside the University.” This conference will now be an annual event, with even more schools participating. Ana has also worked with HBS administrators to bring diversity issues to the fore and improve communication, particularly through inclusive cases and vignettes and by voicing students’ experiences.
As one nominator commented, “Ana is a credit to the Harvard community, constantly in service of others and striving to leave the School better than when she arrived.”
Few people have made more of a contribution to fostering and improving community on campus than Cory Rothschild. As president of Section I and community chair of the Student Association (SA) committee, he was a tireless advocate for the HBS student body. Sectionmates and classmates alike have said, “In addition to being an amazing section president, Cory has been a huge presence in the SA [the School’s student government] this year.”
In the SA, Cory convinced the co-presidents to create multiple positions that focused on community in an effort to increase the shared HBS experience across sections. He and classmate Anne Fauvre ran a successful “MyTake” series, with students doing TED-style presentations on a wide variety of topics. And he focused on creating opportunities to bring all members of the HBS community together, including “Spangler Night Live”-- musical events in the Spangler Center lounge that presented student and professional musical acts.
A fellow SA member observed, “In the past, a lot of students seemed to leave every weekend, so there wasn’t a lot of on-campus involvement. This is something that Cory worked to change. He created more of an emotional tie to the school. His Spangler Night Live acts are incredibly popular, he’s increased attendance at Trivia Nights, the MyTake talks are often standing room only, and he leads group outings to off-campus events. He’s the SA community officer, but he goes above and beyond what’s required of him.”
In addition, Cory is well known for his work, with classmates Mhoire Murphy and Julia Saxonov, in conceiving and executing an overhaul of the HBS Start program for incoming students. With the goal of making Start much more than just an introduction to section life and the case method, the trio aimed to deliver a more holistic and community-based “Intro to Life at HBS.” To accomplish that, they created a group of second-year students, called EC Ambassadors, to help teach the incoming first-years about campus life and provide a constant support system for their many questions and concerns during orientation. They also put together a jam-packed week of events, speakers, and sessions to introduce the new students to everything HBS has to offer.
As one nominator noted, “It was Cory’s desire to improve the first-semester experience for students in the Required Curriculum (RC) that led to the incredibly successful Start program. It was his desire to provide more support and assistance to section officers that led to the creation of an officers’ Wiki, which now acts as a first port of call for RC section officers as they encounter new issues for the first time. And what is even more impressive is that Cory was not just the innovator. In each of these examples, he was the one to roll up his sleeves and get things done.”
The two Doctoral Dean's Award winners are as follows:
A candidate for a doctorate of business administration in management, Everett Spain has been described as “a leader of character whose exceptional qualities and acts have had a significant impact on Harvard Business School, Harvard University, and the Greater Boston community.”
Over the past two-and-a-half years, this active-duty and decorated (including a Bronze Star and Purple Heart) U.S. Army officer (with the rank of colonel) dedicated himself to improving and deepening the relationship between the University and its military members. With the recent return of ROTC to the University and the increasing presence of veterans across all Harvard programs, Everett stepped up to lead in various ways --as a director of the Harvard Veterans Organization (HVO), for example, and as a speaker at Harvard military-related events. After researching Harvard’s military history, he also developed a walking tour of Harvard Yard’s military memorials and historic markers.
Although he is reluctant to talk about it, of particular note are Everett’s actions in the aftermath of last year’s tragic Boston Marathon bombings.
A Dean’s Award nominator recounts the story: Everett, along with his wife and two Harvard MBA students, had volunteered to serve as a running guide for a blind competitor in the race. When the bombs went off, they were approaching the finish line. Reacting immediately, Everett passed off his blind companion to another race volunteer so that he could be led to safety and then rushed toward the site of the blasts to help treat some of the injured. He administered first aid and using available materials, including his own clothes, created a pressure bandage and a tourniquet for two of the seriously wounded, ran through several buildings with blaring smoke alarms for trapped victims, and then escorted a third victim to a hospital in an ambulance. “I’m sure his actions helped save the lives of several victims,” wrote a nominator.
Media captured the image of Everett, half undressed and covered in blood, but when asked for identification, he would not provide his name, rank, or any other affiliation. He simply said that he was an American soldier. For months after bombings, Everett continued to support and visit victims in the hospital, while shunning publicity. In recognition of his heroic and selfless behavior, however, he recently received the Soldier’s Medal, the U.S. Army’s highest honor awarded in peacetime, in a small ceremony on the HBS campus.
According to a fellow student who nominated him for the Dean’s Award, “Everett’s modesty, compassion, and selfless concern for those in need – be they veterans or victims of terrorism – is immensely inspiring. Many doctoral students are motivated to help others, but his example shows us that we have the capacity to serve in many ways.”
A graduating student in Harvard Business School’s Doctor of Business Administration program in management, Matthew Lee has been described by one of his faculty supporters as “an exceptional citizen of the School” who exemplifies the qualities of a Dean’s Award recipient through his actions as a leader and his positive impact on the HBS and Harvard communities.
During his years in the School’s Doctoral Programs, Matthew frequently helped fellow students navigate the doctoral student experience, providing mentorship on issues such as their research and course selection. He also led several “grass-roots” community-building activities at HBS, including a Thanksgiving potluck dinner for students and their faculty advisors and staff to celebrate the holiday and give thanks. This event became a much anticipated and appreciated tradition within the HBS doctoral community, particularly among those who couldn’t make it home for the long weekend.
In addition, Matthew was a cofounder in 2012 of the Harvard Graduate School Leadership Initiative, a student-run organization that convenes graduate students from different Harvard schools for leadership education and intimate conversations with faculty members and outside leaders visiting the Harvard campus. Students have responded enthusiastically. The most recent edition of the Initiative received more than 400 applicants for 25 seats.
As a teaching fellow with Dr. David Ager (now a Senior Fellow at HBS) when he was a member of the University’s Sociology Department, Matthew helped develop and deliver a social entrepreneurship course at Harvard College. As a result of his contributions, former students from the class founded several organizations, including a project in the Republic of Georgia aimed at educating a new generation of entrepreneurial leaders. He continues to travel to Georgia to teach and serve on the organization’s advisory board in Georgia and Romania to educate new generations of entrepreneurial leaders in that region of the world. He continues to be actively involved in these efforts in an advisory role.
During his studies, Matthew also organized and led spring and winter break trips to Central America through Habitat for Humanity, making it possible for five teams of 10 to 15 Harvard undergraduates each to construct homes in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. In keeping with Matthew’s quiet, yet high-impact style of leadership, these trips were undertaken with little fanfare.
In short, wrote a faculty admirer, “Matthew is highly deserving of this Dean’s Award recognition and sets a standard of performance that is noteworthy and an example for others to emulate.”