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A message to the community

January 23, 2023  

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,  

I am thrilled and humbled to be rejoining you, after two years in Washington DC focusing on COVID, nutrition security, and health equity across our country, to lead Harvard’s implementation efforts to respond to its legacy of slavery. The team we are bringing together, like me, is eager to continue the considerable work already done by Prof. Martha Minow and the Implementation Committee. We know this work will be complex, challenging, and full of tough decisions, but it could not be more important.   

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’” This question has driven me for my entire career and as I step into this role.  

As we pursue the work ahead of us, it is important that we continue to ask the right questions and ensure we are doing something meaningful with answers. What gives me hope for the path ahead is the university’s deep commitment to understanding the uncomfortable truths articulated in the Report of the Presidential Committee on Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery and to implementing its recommendations.  

Among the recommendations is the commitment to institutionalizing this work so it continues for generations to come. In establishing this Office of the Vice Provost, the University has taken a key first step in doing that, creating a central place for moving forward implementation work, and enabling and tracking important activities around the university and with our partners locally and around the globe. We will be looking for your good ideas and are committed to supporting projects that lead to long-lasting, effectual change. Stay tuned for more information about proposal application deadlines, and please always feel free to reach out with questions or concerns.  

 As we consider how to best implement the Committee’s recommendations, it’s clear that this work will be guided by several core values – to seek and uncover the truth, share and disseminate existing and future findings, acknowledge past wrongs and harms, and center equity and foster collaboration with communities and organizations that share our steadfast commitment to the work of repair.   

 I look forward to working with all of you and encourage you to think about how you can lean in and engage. Each action, no matter how small, is an important step in the right direction.  

All my best,