HAA Clubs and Shared Interest Groups (SIGs) Awards
The HAA Clubs and SIGs Awards honor individuals and organizations with the Outstanding Volunteer Leadership Award and Outstanding Alumni Community Award. Given out annually, these awards recognize individuals who provide exemplary contributions to a Harvard Club or SIG, as well as organizations that make an impact with remarkable programming. They not only showcase exceptional service but also symbolize and encourage an ongoing commitment to excellence in the alumni community.
Awardees are nominated by their peers, with fellow volunteers contributing testimonials that speak to the tireless leadership and impact of these contributing individuals and organizations. Awards were awarded at the Alumni Leadership Conference (ALC) on Thursday, October 26.
Outstanding Alumni Community Award
Harvard Alumni for Mental Health
Deeply committed to raising awareness of mental health issues in the Harvard community and beyond, the Harvard Alumni for Mental Health SIG has made an outstanding effort to advocate for those facing stigma around the world, promote greater access to care, and address the global mental health crisis.
Led by a highly motivated team of volunteers, Harvard Alumni for Mental Health is a global nonprofit that brings together mental health professionals from fields including psychiatry, psychology, social work, business, public health, and technology to host educational webinars and community events. Focused on topics such as coping with stress, imposter syndrome, and navigating mental health at work, these events have been attended by thousands of alumni worldwide, and the recordings have been made accessible via a large online resource database with plans to expand partnerships with other Clubs and SIGs to co-host future events. In addition, the SIG provides a resource library for members and the wider community to seek care.
By nurturing meaningful connections and taking a compassionate approach, Harvard Alumni for Mental Health works to ease the challenges associated with seeking mental health treatment. Determined to break down barriers, Harvard Alumni for Mental Health has shown how Harvard alumni can implement effective solutions to the global mental health crisis and empower alumni to proactively focus on the well-being of the global community.
Harvard Club of Ukraine
Demonstrating resilience, unity, and determination in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine over a year ago, the Harvard Club of Ukraine has shown an unflinching commitment to mobilizing the Harvard community in support of Ukraine’s people.
The Harvard Club of Ukraine took immediate action within hours of the invasion, sharing information on how to provide humanitarian support and organizing an event with firsthand updates from alumni on the ground in the conflict zone. Since then, the Club has spearheaded a series of in-person, online, and hybrid events throughout the year to keep the Harvard community informed with insights from experts and world leaders. Events included a seminar on negotiation and conflict resolution, a panel discussion at Harvard Business School, an allyship series in collaboration with Harvard Clubs around the world, and a conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
In addition to alumni, the Harvard Club of Ukraine has connected the wider Ukrainian community at Harvard, including students, faculty, and researchers from the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute.
With a robust and nuanced response to the ongoing emergency and an expansive view on its long-term humanitarian and economic toll in the region and across the globe, the Harvard Club of Ukraine has collaborated across time zones and national borders to provide unwavering support for Ukraine.
Outstanding Volunteer Leadership Award
Alice Abarbanel AB ’66
With an unswerving dedication to amplifying the voices of Radcliffe alumnae, Alice Abarbanel AB ’66 of the Radcliffe Club of San Francisco has volunteered countless hours of her time to documenting Radcliffe’s journey over decades, strengthening alumnae bonds, and galvanizing the wider community to preserve Radcliffe College’s history.
Serving as the volunteer project director of the Radcliffe College Alumnae Oral History Project, Abarbanel has, for four years, interviewed alumnae and trained fellow interviewers to document the undergraduate experiences of Radcliffe alumnae from the 1940s through 1974—a period that marks the beginning of co-educational classes with Harvard students and culminates in the year admissions offices for both Harvard and Radcliffe merged. These transcripts and audio recordings are housed in the Schlesinger Library archives.
The project has generated a groundswell of enthusiasm and support among all alumni, leading the HAA to invite Abarbanel and her colleagues to report on the project to the Crimson Society and Reunion classes on Alumni Day. Thanks to her efforts, the project is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2024.
Deeply invested in the lives of her fellow alumnae, Abarbanel has made an exceptional contribution to the Harvard and Radcliffe community by enabling women to reflect on and share their undergraduate experiences. Her commitment will help sustain their legacies to inspire future generations.
Louis Edozien AB ’81 and Oghenerume Aggreh LLM ’85
Demonstrating steadfast perseverance and fortitude, Louis Edozien AB ’81 and Oghenerume Aggreh LLM ’85 have patiently and consistently overcome many challenges to restore the Harvard Club of Nigeria back into a thriving organization—while building momentum and excitement across Nigeria’s alumni community.
In revitalizing the Harvard Club of Nigeria, Edozien and Aggreh have helped reestablish a crucial hub for the second largest alumni community in Africa. Thanks to their unflagging efforts to relaunch it in 2023, the Club was able to hold its first election in many years. With a new board in place, the Club hit the ground running by immediately getting to work on strategic planning for the future.
By fostering a culture of trust and demonstrating a willingness to tackle and resolve complex issues of registration and governance, Edozien and Aggreh have revived a sense of unity and enhanced connections among alumni. Their tremendous commitment to shepherd the Club over the years and their thoughtful leadership have enabled the Harvard Club of Nigeria to reach an incredible milestone.
Veronica Wong AB ’88
An enthusiastic and tireless volunteer, Veronica Wong AB ’88 has steadfastly served Harvard over the years as an interviewer of applicants to Harvard for Schools Committees around the world, on the board of the Harvard Club of New York, currently as Vice President and a Board Director for the Harvard Club of Hawaii, and as Regional Director of Harvard Clubs across Hawaii and Southern California.
Wong’s organizational prowess and boundless capacity for strategic planning have led her to spearhead many HAA events in the region—sparking renewed ties to Harvard for numerous alumni and making a difference by bringing the alumni community in Hawaii together.
Her superb communication skills and dedication to inclusivity have ensured successful events from start to finish. Demonstrating leadership and an upbeat, optimistic mindset, Wong has hosted a series of online and in-person events focused on building and sustaining connections to Harvard. Additionally, in her dual role as an appointed HAA Board Director and Regional Director for Harvard Clubs across Hawaii and Southern California, her willingness to work hard on behalf of multiple alumni communities is on full display. She is a steadfast advocate for the Harvard Clubs in her region and ensures they are informed and actively participating in HAA-enabled programming.
Wong’s proactive commitment to creating community has propelled the Harvard Club of Hawaii and the Clubs across Southern California forward with opportunities for alumni to connect with and support one another.