04 Feb 2022

RISE Fellow: Adan Acevedo (MBA 2023)


by Shona Simkin

This fall, as part of the Harvard Business School (HBS) Action Plan for Advancing Racial Equity, 20 MBA students were selected as the inaugural recipients of the Recognizing Individuals Seeking Equity (RISE) Fellowship. The fellows were chosen for their demonstrated commitment to serving Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, and other marginalized communities of color within the US prior to enrolling at HBS.

The 2021 RISE fellows are MBA Class of 2023’s Adan Acevedo, Jerome Fulton Jr, Amari Griffin, Tarebi John, Zoe Matthew, Alejandro Molina, Ted Obi, Chidalu Onyenso, Lanita Patton, Nashae Roundtree, David Velasquez, Mireille Verdonk; and MBA Class of 2022’s Siham Adous, Aaron Hancock, Brian Hollins, Diego Salas, Devon Sandford, Lucas Santos, Xonana Scrubb, and Tracey Thompson.

Adan Acevedo (MBA 2023)

For Adan Acevedo (MBA 2023), success is defined by integrating equity and diversity work into his day-to-day life as an MBA student and aspiring entertainment executive.

“I figured out early on that when I wasn’t investing in the community or supporting people, my overall work would be affected,” said Acevedo. “I was less productive, less focused, and felt like what I was doing wasn’t enough. Oddly enough, adding another hour or two of volunteer or mentoring work, especially in these past two years of the pandemic, made me feel like I had more time. The more I connected to people and communities, the more excited and fulfilled I felt.”

Acevedo cites his parents as his primary motivation: As Salvadoran immigrants, they arrived in the US without high school educations or jobs, and now own their own home in Los Angeles. When he was 16 years old, he noticed that many of his former classmates were being excluded from higher education opportunities. He connected with teachers and local leaders to start a scholarship for low-income students at his school. The Lennox Education Advancement Foundation (LEAF) is now in its 18th year of operation and has grown to serve even more local high school students.

Throughout his time as an undergraduate at Harvard (first Latino president of Harvard College Democrats, intern at the White House Office of Public Engagement), and roles in education (teacher with Teach for America) and entertainment (WarnerMedia analyst and data scientist), Acevedo has found inspiration and motivation from colleagues and seized opportunities to invest in and elevate lesser-heard voices and issues of equity and diversity.

Acevedo has worked to expand the outreach of the Harvard Latino Alumni Association to advocate for University students of color more broadly and is on the board of directors of the Young Eisner Scholars, which provides financial, social, and academic support to students in underserved communities. With an MBA, Acevedo aims to scale his work amplifying the voices of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other communities through talent acquisition and content strategy in the entertainment industry.

“There are few industries where you get to set the tone for how the world dreams,” said Acevedo. “The fact that you can do that for people in LA, Rio, Abuja, and Tokyo, all at the same time, is incredible. The choices made at the very top of the industry to work with diverse creators, actors, and crew members are not only at the crux of a diverse and equitable Hollywood but are also setting the tone for the next 30-40 years globally for what representation looks like. I can’t act, sing, or dance, but I am a problem solver who’s passionate about diversity and equity and telling the stories I’ve seen all my life. I’m passionate about making sure that my students, future children, and grandchildren get to see a world that continues to evolve at a pace that we can all be proud of.”

Read the profiles of all eight RISE fellows.

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