28 May 2020

Meet the 2020-2021 Leadership Fellows

Top Row: Sarika Mendu, Leonardo Leal, Alexxis Isaac, Rebecca Hansen, Andrew Baxter, Wendy Ying
Middle Row: Sam Fell, Mimi Disipio, Akash Gupta, Christine Keung, Mikal Lewis, Ratnika Prasad
Bottom Row: Liz Su, Perri Smith, Mark Molewyk, Jade Enns, Stefanie McDermott, David Reiff

BOSTON—The Leadership Fellows Program at Harvard Business School (HBS) is based on University Professor Michael Porter’s vision of developing a network of HBS graduates with cross-sector experience who are committed to addressing societal issues throughout their careers. The fellowship is a two-way commitment in which graduating students are offered once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to experience high-impact management positions in nonprofit and public sector organizations for one year at a competitive salary. At the same time, the hiring organizations leverage the experience, energy, and strategic and analytical skills of MBAs in roles that produce immediate results and build long-term capacity.

Since its inception in 2001, the Leadership Fellows Program has placed 241 fellows at organizations such as the City of Boston Mayor’s Office, Harlem Children’s Zone, Mercy Corps, Whitney Museum of Art, World Wildlife Fund, and the U.S. Department of Education.

“The HBS Leadership Fellows Program offers a special opportunity for a group of highly talented graduating MBAs to work in and also to observe the workings of the leadership team in front-line organizations involved in social change,” notes Herman B. ("Dutch") Leonard, the Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and the George F. Baker Jr. Professor of Public Sector Management at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. “Having a chance at this early stage in their careers to work with CEOs and senior executives in these important organizations and to make a meaningful and measurable impact on some of society’s most challenging social problems can materially influence their personal and professional choices for their whole lifetime.”

Whether fellows stay on with their sponsoring organizations, move to another social enterprise, enter the private sector, or launch their own new venture, past participants agree that the Leadership Fellows Program is critical to their ongoing development as leaders who make a difference in the world.

The 2020-21 HBS Leadership Fellows will work at a wide range of organizations across fields like education, healthcare, impact investing, and the public sector. They are as follows:

ANDREW BAXTER, Environmental Defense Fund

MIMI DISIPIO, Whitney Museum of American Art

JADE ENNS, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

SAM FELL, Sesame Workshop

AKASH GUPTA, Juilliard School

REBECCA HANSEN, Boston Planning and Development Agency

ALEXXIS ISAAC, City of Boston, Mayor's Office

CHRISTINE KEUNG, City of San Jose, Mayor’s Office

LEO LEAL, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation

MIKAL LEWIS, Connecticut Governor’s Office

STEFANIE MCDERMOTT, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

SARIKA MENDU, City of Detroit, Mayor's Office


RATNIKA PRASAD, Environmental Defense Fund

DAVID REIFF, Social Finance

PERRI SMITH, Boston Medical Center

ELIZABETH SU, Boston Children's Hospital


Hear from the fellows in their own words about why they are excited about their upcoming opportunities.

Harvard Business School is grateful for the generosity of donors who have been vital to the HBS Leadership Fellows Program: James A. Attwood Jr. (MBA 1984) Fellowship, David J. Dunn (MBA 1961) Fellowship, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation/Richard L. Menschel (MBA 1959) Endowment, Richard Lumpkin (MBA 1963) Dean’s Discretionary Fund, Margaret T. Morris Foundation Endowment, Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Fellowship, Michael E. Porter (MBA 1971) Service Leadership Fellowship, and John C. Whitehead (MBA 1947) Fellowship for Not-for-Profit Management.


Cullen Schmitt


The HBS Social Enterprise Initiative applies innovative business practices and managerial disciplines to drive sustained, high-impact social change. It is grounded in the mission of Harvard Business School and aims to educate, support, and inspire leaders across all sectors to tackle society’s toughest challenges and make a difference in the world.


Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 200 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and doctoral degrees, as well as more than 70 open enrollment Executive Education programs and 55 custom programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, HBS faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching to educate leaders who make a difference in the world, shaping the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.