Candidates for Elected Director

The HAA's nominating committee has proposed the following candidates for Elected Director:


David BattatDavid Battat
A.B. '91 magna cum laude; J.D. '94, Columbia University
New York, New York

David Battat is president of Atrion Corporation, a company that manufactures medical devices exclusively in the United States. He has committed his company to hiring and training those often shunned by employers due to their difficult histories or lack of a high school degree. Previously an attorney, Battat served as a law clerk to then Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Subsequently, he was a criminal defense lawyer whose work included death penalty and sentencing reform cases.

Battat is an energetic and involved alumnus. An alumni interviewer since graduation, he co-chaired the New York City Schools and Scholarships Committee. In this capacity, he coordinated 1,200 interviews annually and trained hundreds of new interviewers. He continues to mentor admitted students even after graduation and represents Harvard at college fairs for students at under-resourced high schools. Battat is the treasurer of the Harvard Club of New York Foundation, which provides scholarships for Harvard undergraduate and graduate students. He is working to expand annual foundation scholarships to New York City first responders seeking to attend Harvard graduate schools.

An experienced firefighter and disaster relief volunteer, Battat has deployed as a first responder after numerous natural disasters. He helped evacuate the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and conducted search and rescue in the days that followed.

"The best part of volunteering for Harvard is seeing its evolution. Constant improvements in financial aid, academic resources, and Harvard's approach to student life mean each class is better equipped than the preceding one to serve our communities."


Farai N. ChideyaFarai N. Chideya
A.B. '90 magna cum laude
New York, New York

An award winning journalist, Farai Chideya is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She has a newly published book entitled The Episodic Career: How to Thrive at Work in the Age of Disruption. She is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.com; has a podcast, One with Farai; and writes travel pieces with a historical bent for the New York Times.

Chideya has served on the journalism committee of the Knight Foundation, which allocates substantial support for journalism and digital innovation. She also founded and ran Pop and Politics (1995–2010), a nonprofit journalism training organization. She has won numerous awards, including the 2015 Journalist of Conscience Award in Multimedia from the Educational Video Association.

An Adams House resident and a recipient of Radcliffe's Jane Rainie Opel '50 Young Alumna Award in 2000, Chideya was elected chief marshal at Commencement by her classmates in honor of their 25th Harvard College Reunion. In the spring of 2012, she was a fellow at Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics. She is currently a member of the Harvard Club of New York City.

"Being a part of the Harvard community is one of the most significant gifts I've received in my life. Having seen and felt the impact of Harvard on my life, I would like to contribute, in socially complex times, to the ways alumni can aid our school in its mission, as it affects today's students, alumni of all ages, and the University's relationships with other institutions."


Rye BarcottRye Barcott
M.B.A., M.P.A. '09; B.A. '01, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Charlotte, North Carolina

Rye Barcott has made service his life's mission. He authored It Happened on the Way to War, which documents his journey serving as a U.S. Marine while cofounding Carolina for Kibera (CFK), a nongovernmental organization that breaks cycles of violence and poverty by investing in young leaders in Kenya. CFK was named a "Hero of Global Health" by Time magazine and the Gates Foundation. Barcott received the U.S. Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

Barcott and fellow Harvard alumnus and veteran Dan McCready M.B.A. '11 founded Double Time Capital, a firm that makes direct investments in cleaner American energy.

At Harvard Business School (HBS) and Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Barcott was a Social Entrepreneurship Fellow and George Leadership Fellow. He received the HBS Dean's Award for cofounding the class "Building Green Businesses" and assisted the U.S. Competitiveness Project with HBS Professor Jan Rivkin as a volunteer after graduation. A member of the Harvard Club of Charlotte and the alumni advisory committee to the HKS Center for Public Leadership, he also served on Harvard's Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility. The president of the United States appointed him as a member of the Fulbright Board.

"Being a director of the HAA offers an exciting opportunity to make an impact, give back to Harvard, and represent alumni from various constituencies, including veterans, entrepreneurs, and the American Southeast."

Barcott and his wife, Tracy Barcott, who completed a postdoctoral fellowship in child psychology at Harvard, have two children.


Susan M. ChengSusan M. Cheng
M.P.P. '04, Ed.L.D. '13; B.A. '00, University of California, Los Angeles
Washington, D.C.

Susan Cheng's work focuses on strengthening organizational systems for talent development, leadership, and diversity and inclusion. With the D.C. Public Schools, Cheng focused on central office talent recruitment and development, culture building, and performance management systems, launching the Urban Education Leaders Internship Program and the Teachers Central to Leadership Fellowship, among other efforts. She then joined the inaugural education leadership doctoral program (Ed.L.D.) cohort at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). She is currently the senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion at Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Through Partners In Health, Cheng volunteered in Rwanda, organizing residents to enroll in its national health insurance system. An innovation grant from HGSE supported her to return there to develop leadership curriculum for the Akilah Institute, a women's college for genocide survivors focused on entrepreneurship, technology, and leadership.

During her time at Harvard, Cheng served as a freshman proctor and on a committee to review student and academic support services. She is a member of the Ed.L.D. Women of Color Network and a former member of the planning committee for the Ed.L.D. Program Alumni Network.

"I would cherish the opportunity with the HAA to build, reinforce, and expand a diverse alumni network that spans the world. I have benefited from this network in my own development and helped current students to engage with it. My focus would be on outreach, communications, and direct engagement, especially to increasingly more diverse members of the HAA network."

Cheng is engaged to Joe Doctor, Ed.L.D. '13.


Victor JihVictor Jih
J.D. '96 magna cum laude; B.A. '93, Stanford University
Los Angeles, California

Never averse to taking a risk, Victor Jih, and his sister, Tamara Jih Murray J.D. '06, competed in and won the 14th season of the reality television show The Amazing Race (CBS). A partner at Irell & Manella LLP focused on complex commercial litigation, he has been named "Litigator of the Week" by the American Lawyer in 2015 and to the "Minority 40 Under 40" list by the National Law Journal.

A fellow of the British-American Project in 2012, Jih now serves on its U.S. executive committee as treasurer. He co-taught the Ninth Circuit Appellate Advocacy Clinic at the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition, he is also an avid marathon runner.

Serving as an alumni interviewer for Harvard Law School since graduation, his other connections with Harvard have been through less traditional channels. A three-diamond coach through the National Speech and Debate Association, for 20 years he has been teaching speech and debate at the high school level, running a debate company, and establishing camps for high school students. Consequently, he has connected to the University as he has gotten to know many debaters who apply to and attend Harvard each year.

"I would be excited to devote considerable time and energy to serving as a director of the HAA because I am thrilled about the prospect of engaging with the larger Harvard institution in different and new ways. I look forward to the opportunity to broaden my engagement in even more untraditional ways."


Eliana MurilloEliana Murillo
A.B. '10
San Francisco, California

Eliana Murillo started at Google after graduation and now serves as the head of multicultural marketing. She is also the chief marketing officer of her family's business, Tequila Alquimia, and driven by the mission of educating the industry about the benefits of organic agriculture.

Deeply committed to the greater Hispanic community and to diversity in general, Murillo founded the Hispanic Googler Network (HOLA) to create opportunities for career advancement and community impact throughout Google. A member of the Nielsen External Hispanic/Latino Advisory Council, she is a founder of the Latino Tech Giving Circle through the Latino Community Foundation. She has been recognized by the Hispanic community for her accomplishments with the ELLA Leadership Institute Award and named to "20 Under 40 Corporate Rising Stars—Latinos Going Places" list by Poder360.

At Harvard, Murillo was a member of The Seneca and a founding member of the Latina Empowerment and Development Conference, and she continues her involvement now as an alumna. She was also founder and president of Latino Business Connection and president of Latinas Unidas de Harvard. She is currently a member of the Harvard Club of San Francisco.

"I would be humbled and honored to volunteer my time and efforts to driving and supporting initiatives that the HAA develops and maintains to continue participating in the mission of the University. It would be a pleasure to contribute toward the Association and share my unique perspective as one of the few Latinas in the technology sector."


Trey GraysonTrey Grayson
A.B. '94 cum laude; J.D./M.B.A. '98, University of Kentucky
Fort Mitchell, Kentucky

Trey Grayson was elected secretary of state for Kentucky in 2003, becoming the youngest secretary of state in the country at the time. He later became the director of Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics (IOP) and is now the president and chief executive officer of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

While director of the IOP, Grayson also served as a member of the Kirkland House Senior Common Room, a faculty fellow for the men's basketball team, and a freshman academic advisor. He serves as co-chair of the Harvard Club of Cincinnati's Schools Committee and has been member of his class committee since graduation.

An Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership, Grayson became president of the National Association of Secretaries of State and a member of Barack Obama's Presidential Commission on Election Administration. A board member of Democracy Works Inc. (founded by three Kennedy School alumni), he was on the national steering committee of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools and currently is vice chair of Kentucky Governor's Scholars Program.

"HAA board service will allow me to help shape and strengthen Harvard's future engagement with its alumni. I know what Harvard meant, and continues to mean, to this public school graduate from Kentucky. I want to make sure that all alumni from all backgrounds can feel a strong connection to, and influence on, our alma mater." He and his wife, Nancy, have two daughters.


Janet Nezhad BandJanet Nezhad Band
A.B. '83 magna cum laude, M.B.A. '89, J.D. '90 cum laude
New York, New York

"Arriving at Harvard, I sensed that, though I had left my family, I had found my home. In the richness of the Harvard community I found peers who, like me, had wondered exactly where they fit and were eager to broaden their horizons."

Janet Band's belief that the transformative power of a Harvard education should be available to all deserving students has informed her three decades of service to Harvard. Her extensive volunteer leadership within her College class, the Harvard College Fund and the current Harvard Campaign for Arts and Sciences confirms this commitment. Her service to the University has twice earned her Harvard's Albert H. Gordon '23 Award.

A Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations concentrator, Band studied in Egypt on a Fulbright Scholarship and then served as a law tutor in Eliot House while earning her J.D./M.B.A. She practiced law at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison and at Viacom. An unabashed foodie and avid adventurer, Band has been a contributing editor at Condé Nast Traveler. She now consults to global nonprofits in the fields of social justice and sustainable development and serves on the advisory council of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.

"As an alumna of Harvard/Radcliffe, Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School I hope to promote engagement across Harvard's multiple alumni bodies to enable graduates from all of the schools to connect with each other and with the University."

Band lives in New York with her husband, Laurence Band MBA '88, and their two children.


Michael C. PayneMichael C. Payne
A.B. '77 cum laude, M.D. '81, M.P.H. '82
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Born and raised in Chicago, Michael Payne is a gastroenterologist at the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA). Named CHA's Teacher of the Year in 2006, he is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS), a lecturer at Tufts Medical School, and co-director of the CHA Surgical Endoscopy Training Program. He is a member of The Academy at HMS, a nonresident pre-med advisor at Currier House, and has been an alumni interviewer for the College.

Payne is committed to issues of diversity and academic performance. He has lectured extensively on these topics at Williams, Swarthmore, Morehouse, New York University Abu Dhabi, and other institutions of higher learning. Through the Explorations and Project Success programs of the HMS Office for Diversity Inclusion & Community Partnership, he has worked with grammar and high school students in Greater Boston. He received a long-term contributor award from Project Success in 2015.

"I have had a 42-year relationship with Harvard that has allowed me to engage the University from different perspectives—as a student, a faculty member, an alumnus, and a community member." Payne would bring his passion and unique outlook to the table, working with others who love the institution as much as he does. He plans to help the greater alumni network make its voice heard and help Harvard maintain its core ethos of excellence, purpose, and leadership as it engages the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Payne and his wife, Cynthia Payne A.B.E. '79, have four children.