26 May 2015

Hannah Merves (MBA 2015) Wins Dean’s Award for Service to Harvard Business School Community and Beyond

Hannah Merves
Photo: Evgenia Eliseeva

BOSTON—Hannah Merves, a member of the Harvard Business School MBA Class of 2015, has been named winner of the School's prestigious Dean's Award. She will be formally recognized by HBS Dean Nitin Nohria at Commencement ceremonies on the HBS campus on Thursday, May 28.

Established in 1997, this annual award celebrates the extraordinary achievements of a graduating student or students who have made a positive impact on Harvard University, Harvard Business School, and/or broader communities. True to the MBA Program's mission, the recipient has also contributed to the well-being of society through exceptional acts of leadership. Nominations come from the HBS community. A selection committee comprising faculty, administrators, and students then makes recommendations to the Dean, who makes the final decision.

“The Dean's Award epitomizes the mission of Harvard Business School – to educate leaders who make a difference in the world,” said Dean Nitin Nohria. “Hannah Merves has had a positive and lasting impact on the experiences of her classmates and on the community. We are delighted and proud to formally recognize all that she has accomplished.”

Described by students, faculty, and administrators alike as warm, passionate, friendly, and engaged, Hannah Merves has been a service-oriented member of the HBS community throughout her two years at the School.

She had a positive impact by serving as a Leadership & Values (L&V) representative in her section during her first year and later as co-chair of the L & V Committee, which focuses on promoting among students integrity, trust, and the ambition to make a difference. As a part of this role, Hannah took the initiative to further develop the EVOLVE program, which enables students to meet in small groups with sectionmates twice a month for two hours to have meaningful conversations and foster deeper connections with one another in a safe environment.

At the time of Hannah’s transition, the program was new and had only been piloted. Investing the time to expand and institutionalize EVOLVE, she worked with students, administrators, and faculty to bring the program to scale. This included creating a guidebook to facilitate the conversations, collaborating with administrators to obtain the funds to film a promotional video, and building a website. As a result of these efforts, forty percent of the first-year class (about 375 students) signed up for EVOLVE in the winter of 2015. As one administrator put it, “Hannah recognized that lots of students would need a way to build friendships and connect with others in a more intimate setting than their sections.” A classmate added, “Hannah was always looking for ways to help connect people.”

At HBS, Hannah also pursued her passion for supporting nonprofits in their endeavors. While she was co-president of the Board Fellows & Social Enterprise Consulting Club (which matches HBS students with nearby nonprofits, where students can volunteer their time, either by sitting on the board or doing consulting projects), it had a strong showing of 44 students tackling 22 projects for local organizations. She recruited students and worked with administrators regarding ways the club could communicate its achievements to the HBS community as well as recognize members for their accomplishments. According to one administrator, “Hannah was a great advocate for the work the students in the club were doing. She was deeply involved in improving members’ experiences and ensuring that these experiences were meaningful.”

In addition to these formal roles, Hannah helped her fellow students in other ways. For instance, she anonymously sent flowers to a grieving section mate and his family after the loss of a relative, accompanied an ill classmate to the hospital, and helped another student raise awareness on campus about a nonprofit that was meaningful to him. She is someone who genuinely wants to support those around her.

Hannah also made her mark beyond HBS. For the past year she has served on the board of Farrington Nature Linc, a Boston-area nonprofit whose mission is “to enhance the well-being of children from low-income communities through a connection with the natural world.”

No matter what the task or venue, Hannah’s generosity with her talents, time, and energy has left a lasting and positive impact on all those around her. She has truly made a difference.


Jim Aisner

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.