Candidates for Board of Overseers

Dear Harvard Degree Holders:

I urge you to vote in this year’s Board of Overseers election. Through your vote, you can contribute your voice to the governance of the University at an exciting time for Harvard.

Harvard is unusual among private universities in the United States in giving its degree holders the authority to elect members of its Board of Overseers. The Board, first organized in 1642, plays a significant role in Harvard governance—helping to shape the University’s agenda, assessing and making recommendations about the quality and direction of Harvard’s wide-ranging programs of education and research, and consenting to certain major actions, including the selection of new members of the Harvard Corporation. Please take advantage of this opportunity to help influence the University’s future by voting for the Overseer candidates of your choice.

Below is information about eight candidates for Overseer proposed by the Harvard Alumni Association Nominating Committee. The order of the candidates is determined by lot.

All ballots must be received by 5:00 p.m. EDT, May 15, 2018. By voting, you can show your support for Harvard and your commitment to its future.


Scott A. Abell
President of the Board of Overseers

The HAA’s nominating committee has proposed the following candidates for Overseer:

Meredith HodgesMeredith “Max” Hodges
A.B. ’03 cum laude, M.B.A. ’10 with distinction
Boston, Massachusetts

Meredith “Max” Hodges is an innovative arts leader with a passion for bringing a business approach to building audiences, broadening access, and supporting the creative process.

Now the executive director of Boston Ballet, she began developing her skills in arts administration and leadership during her years at Harvard College and Harvard Business School (HBS). As an undergraduate, she served as executive director of CityStep, a student-run organization that teaches Cambridge middle schoolers self-expression and self-esteem through dance. She has remained active within the Harvard arts community as an alumna, returning often to both the College and HBS to speak about arts entrepreneurship. An enthusiastic mentor, she has advised and assisted many students and recent graduates in launching impactful careers in the arts and social enterprise.

Prior to joining Boston Ballet, she worked at several premier art institutions. She was executive director of Gallim Dance, a New York-based contemporary dance company, and she served the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) as a project director leading strategic development, membership, and technology initiatives.

“As the child of two lifelong public school teachers, I have always believed that education is the single most important source of opportunity and advancement. Harvard sets an example for the field nationally and internationally. My interest in service to Harvard and the Board of Overseers is rooted in my desire to give back to an institution that has had a deeply positive impact on my life, and I am energized to help advance Harvard’s global impact on education and equity.”

HolifieldMarilyn Holifield
J.D. ’72; A.B. ’69, Swarthmore College
Miami, Florida

A pioneering attorney and civic leader, Marilyn Holifield has devoted her personal and professional life to helping others.

During law school, she provided pro bono legal representation to low-income defendants as a member of the Harvard Defenders. She also served as an editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.

After graduating from Harvard Law School (HLS), she worked at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She joined Holland & Knight in 1981 where she later became the first black female partner at a major law firm in Florida. She is consistently listed as a top lawyer in The Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers.

An avid art collector, she cofounded the Miami-Dade North Arts and Humanities Foundation, which seeks to create the Miami Museum of Contemporary Art of the African Diaspora. Her museum planning includes a Youth Museum Hackathon involving junior high students that blends art and technology to change the way we experience museums.

She serves on the Harvard Club of Miami board and previously served as an HAA elected director, Executive Committee member, co-chair of the HAA’s Global Month of Service, and honorary co-chair of 2016 Celebration of Black Alumni at HLS. She is also a member of the Swarthmore College Board of Managers and the University of Miami Board of Trustees.

“I believe Harvard must continue to champion the importance of accessible education to advancing our global society. Through conversations with broader audiences, we must advance dialogues to help restore support and goodwill for higher education, science, and liberal arts.”

Geraldine Acuna-SunshineGeraldine Acuña-Sunshine
A.B. ’92 cum laude, M.P.P. ’96; J.D. ’99, Columbia University
Boston, Massachusetts

Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine is president of the Sunshine Care Foundation for Neurological Care and Research, an international nonprofit based in the Philippines dedicated to finding innovative ways of delivering free clinical and neurological care to impoverished patients in rural areas of Asia. A strong patient advocate, she has encouraged joint efforts in the fields of medicine, public health, and science to seek cures for rare neurodegenerative diseases, resulting in collaborations among top scientists at Harvard, Yale, MIT, and other preeminent institutions worldwide.

Before entering the nonprofit field, she specialized in private equity law, advised various Philippine government entities, and then served as senior counsel in alternative investments at Bracebridge Capital in Boston for over 13 years.

As an undergraduate, she founded the Harvard World Model United Nations conference, and today she champions social entrepreneurship as a board member of The Resolution Project, a Harvard alumni–driven organization that funds social innovation projects locally and in over 70 countries.

Having served as co-chair of her 20th and 25th Harvard and Radcliffe Class of 1992 reunions and a College director for the Harvard Alumni Association, she is currently on the Harvard Kennedy School Dean’s Council and the University’s Joint Committee on Alumni Affairs and Development.

She credits gratitude and love of community as the reasons for volunteering. “I believe in the vision for One Harvard. By deepening the programmatic partnerships among its Schools, Harvard can work together to resolve our most intractable problems and truly serve as a force for good in the world.”

RoubideauxYvette Roubideaux
A.B. ’85 cum laude, M.D. ’89, M.P.H. ’97
Washington, D.C.

Yvette Roubideaux has dedicated her career to teaching, research, and the development of policies and programs to improve the quality of care and health status of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

A member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, she is director of the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center, a think tank focused on issues facing tribal communities. She previously served in the Obama administration as director of the Indian Health Service—the first American Indian woman to lead the federal agency—and as senior advisor to the secretary for American Indians and Alaska Natives in the Department of Health and Human Services.

She has held academic appointments at the University of Arizona, Washington State University, and the Colorado School of Public Health, where she is currently an adjunct professor. Her research has focused on diabetes and tribal health policy, and she has directed training programs designed to encourage American Indian and Alaska Native students to enter health and research professions.

An alumna of three Harvard Schools, she has returned to campus often as an invited speaker on leadership and health care issues affecting American Indians and Alaska Natives.

“The ability to value each other, regardless of our background, is a rare gift in an educational environment for both students and faculty. I felt valued throughout much of my Harvard education, and I hope that Harvard can continue to work to ensure that every student that enters its doors feels valued and has the best chance to succeed.”

GellertCatherine A. Gellert
A.B. ’93 cum laude; M.B.A. ’99, Columbia University
New York, New York

A dedicated University citizen, serving as both president of the Harvard Alumni Association and chair of the Harvard College Fund, Kate Gellert has worked to connect the global alumni community to the Harvard of today. “Around the world, I have seen how Harvard develops leaders who are a force for positive change, and who are deeply dedicated to the University.”

A fine arts major who believes in the importance of a liberal arts education, she has honed her aptitude for strategy through her professional experience as an equity analyst. She pursues her love of the arts in her roles as trustee of the American Repertory Theater and board member of Lincoln Center Education. Additionally, she is a trustee of St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, and has served on the Dean’s Advisory Council of the Radcliffe Institute since 2009. She is also secretary of the International Women’s Health Coalition, committed to promoting the health and human rights of women and girls in the global south.

A resident of New York City, she has been actively involved in the Harvard Club of New York, serving as chair of the Club’s Nominating Committee and formerly as treasurer. A member of the Varsity Club, she is frequently seen in the stands supporting Harvard athletics.

“I have had the privilege to meet hundreds of alumni, students, faculty, and staff through my decades of service. To be able to bring their voices and experiences to the Board of Overseers would be a true honor.”

John C. LechleiterJohn C. Lechleiter
A.M. ’80, Ph.D. ’80; B.S. ’75, Xavier University
Indianapolis, Indiana

A scientist and business leader devoted to helping people live longer, healthier, more active lives, John C. Lechleiter is chairman emeritus of Eli Lilly and Company. Recently retired after a 37-year career, he began in the lab as an entry-level chemist and ended as chief executive officer.

He has also earned distinction as a donor, advocate, and volunteer for numerous charitable and civic organizations, with an emphasis on expanding access to early childhood education. In 2017, he and his wife, Sarah, received the state of Indiana’s highest honor, the Sagamore of the Wabash, for their dedication to improving central Indiana communities.

Among his board roles, he has served as chairman of United Way Worldwide, chairman of the U.S.-Japan Business Council, and trustee of Xavier University. He presently serves on the boards of NIKE, Inc. and Ford Motor Company.

While pursuing his Ph.D. in chemistry at Harvard, he was an undergraduate teaching assistant and a founding member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Student Center graduate student outreach program. As an alumnus, he has served on the Harvard Business School Visiting Committee as well as the Health Policy and Management Executive Council of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“It would be a profound privilege to serve on the Board of Overseers. Modern universities must prepare students to think, work, and live in a world that is changing at a dramatic pace, beset by many seemingly intractable problems, yet brimming with opportunity for new solutions.”

He and Sarah have three children, including Andrew M.B.A. ’11.

Diego A. RodriguezDiego A. Rodriguez
M.B.A. ’01 with distinction; B.A. & B.S. ’93, Stanford University
Palo Alto, California

As a designer, strategist, engineer, and entrepreneur, Diego A. Rodriguez enjoys bringing new ideas to life.

He recently joined Intuit as chief product and design officer after spending 11 years as a partner and global managing director at IDEO, where he pioneered the use of design thinking to solve complex challenges. He holds multiple patents and has received many accolades, including a Chicago Athenaeum Good Design Award, and was named by Fortune as one of the “smartest people in tech.”

An active alumnus with a deep commitment to educating future innovators, he has served as a global advisor to the Harvard Business School (HBS) California Research Center for nine years, and he previously served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship at HBS for four years and has been a judge for the HBS New Venture Competition and the Harvard President’s Innovation Challenge.

He is a founding faculty member of Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (a.k.a. “the”) at Stanford University and is currently a professor of the practice at Boise State University. Previously, he was a visiting scientist at the MIT Media Lab.

“When it comes to investing in the future of our society, I can’t imagine a better place than Harvard to leverage my time and energy. For me, there’s no better way to shape the educational experience than to collaborate with a team of people—the Board of Overseers—whose goal is helping Harvard realize its most vibrant possible future.”

He and his wife, Helen, have two children.

TolbertPhilip Hart Cullom
M.B.A ’88 with distinction; B.S. ’79, U.S. Naval Academy
Gaithersburg, Maryland

A native Chicagoan and distinguished veteran of the United States Navy, Vice Admiral Philip Hart Cullom recently retired from active duty after nearly 40 years of service both at sea and ashore.

In addition to holding leadership assignments in every theater of military operations, he twice served at the White House—as White House Fellow and special assistant to the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and as director for defense policy and arms control on the National Security Council. Achieving significant strategic change in the Pentagon, he was known for his creative management of the Navy’s alternative energy, environment, innovation, and sustainability programs. His numerous awards include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, l’Ordre National du Mérite (Officier) from the Republic of France, and the Ellis Island Award.

Outside of his military service, he has advocated for efforts to expand access to early STEM education, facilitated recovering warrior activities for veterans injured in the line of duty, and served on both nonprofit and for-profit boards. At Harvard Business School, he cofounded Business Ethics Forum magazine and was director of both the Public Management Club and the Nonprofit Management Fellowship Committee.

“I would like to explore what the University can do to enhance all facets of students’ personal growth: academic, intellectual, character development, citizenship, and community service. Additionally, fostering interdisciplinary innovation between Schools within Harvard may lead to serendipitous connections yielding the best, most disruptive impacts for positive change.”

He and his wife, Penny E. Walter, have twin daughters.