26 May 2020

Claire Wagner Named Harvard Business School’s 2020 Student Class Day Speaker


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BOSTON—Claire Wagner (MD/MBA 2020) has been selected as the student speaker for Harvard Business School’s (HBS) Class Day celebration, held this year on Thursday, May 28. Claire was nominated by her peers and her speech was selected out of more than 50 student speeches. She is the first Class Day speaker with a joint degree from the medical school, and the first Class Day speaker to become a mother while at HBS.

Claire has spent the last decade working on access to healthcare services and technologies around the world. She served for several years as fellow to Rwanda’s Minister of Health, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, and Kolokotrones University Professor at Harvard, Dr. Paul Farmer, both of whom continue to be close mentors of hers. Claire went on to help advise and lead several international efforts, including a review of the World Health Organization’s list of essential cancer medicines. She has co-authored more than 40 publications in scientific journals including Nature, The Lancet, and the New England Journal of Medicine.

While at HBS, Claire pursued interests in general management, operations, and entrepreneurship. She co-founded a company with two of her friends as a Rock Summer Fellow, and was a member of the Health Care Club and the Africa Business Club. When Claire and her husband, Joshua Klein, welcomed their son to the world nine months ago, Claire became a member of the “moMBAs,” an HBS group for mothers pursuing their MBA degrees.

After graduation, Claire will be joining the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute in Cambridge, MA, a biotechnology organization applying cutting edge science to the world’s most intractable infectious diseases.

Claire holds a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from Dartmouth College, where she studied under Dr. Lisa Adams, Professor Sienna Craig, and Dr. Jim Yong Kim, former President of The World Bank Group. She is graduating with MD and MBA degrees from HBS and Harvard Medical School, where she received Honors. Claire grew up in Philadelphia and attended Germantown Friends School; her brother, Jonah Wagner, is HBS Class of 2013 (Section D).

HBS Class Day honors graduating students, and typically takes place on the day before the School’s and University’s official Commencement ceremonies. It is planned and conducted by a committee of second-year MBA students. This year, the ceremony will take place virtually on the same day as Commencement, on Thursday, May 28. In addition to Claire, the ceremony will also include a welcome from Professor and MBA Program Faculty Chair Jan Rivkin, an address from the co-presidents of the MBA Class of 2020, and a keynote address by distinguished alumni speakers Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, MBA 1999, and Mezuo O. Nwuneli, MBA 2003. More information is available on the Commencement website.

Claire would like to thank her parents, Mary and Dan, her brother, Jonah, and her family and friends, from Nebraska to New York and beyond, for their unwavering love and support over these years of graduate school and long before. For their guidance and inspiration, she would also like to thank Dean Edward Hundert, her extraordinary teachers and mentors, and the MD/MBA Program Leadership. Lastly, Claire thanks Josh, whose steadiness, patience, and enthusiasm gave her courage, and Leon, who brought everything to life.


Mark Cautela

About Harvard Business School

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 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, 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. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.