The Barbara Jordan Award for Women’s Leadership honors one graduating student at Harvard Kennedy School for their commitment to building community and serving as a role model for women aspiring to leaders. Barbara Jordan was a powerful politician, riveting orator, and dynamic leader. As the first black woman elected to the Texas Senate in 1966 and in the tradition of the Texas Senate, Barbara became “Governor for a Day”– the first black woman governor in the history of the United States. This year’s recipient, Phyllis Johnson, used leadership skills to bring together women from the African Diaspora to create a student group, African Diaspora Women at Harvard Kennedy School. Phyllis helped the organization gain formal recognition by advocating for its promotion of leadership, empowerment, and dialogue among the African Diaspora. This year the group hosted the first Harvard Women of the African Diaspora Summit, which brought together over 100 members of the Harvard community. Inside the classroom, Phyllis has enriched other students’ learning by sharing experiences from running her coffee company, B&D Imports. The business was recently recognized for its impact empowering women entrepreneurs in Africa and Latin America. Phyllis has incorporated the values of women’s leadership and empowerment into her work for the benefit of the Harvard Kennedy School community.
The Holly Taylor Sargent Award for Women's Advancement was established in 2005 by former Dean of the Kennedy School, Joseph S. Nye, Jr. and his wife Molly Nye to honor a student’s contribution to the advancement of opportunities, situation, and status of women. This year we are pleased to honor Rory Gerberg and MaryRose Mazzola for their joint work expanding awareness on gender issues across Harvard, particularly on campus sexual assault. Rory and MaryRose co-founded and led Harvard Students Demand Respect, a coalition of students across Harvard dedicated to eliminating sexual assault and harassment. One of their nominators wrote, “I have rarely seen such a strong partnership. Both contributed profoundly to Harvard Students Demand Respect and their different skill sets complement one another. I admire both women for their leadership, passion, and commitment. Most importantly, I admire them for taking a stand on a tough issue and not giving up in the face of harassment and discouragement.”
The Women and Public Policy Program appreciates all of our honorees’ dedication to gender equality. Congratulations on a successful journey at HKS! We wish each of you the best in all of your future endeavors.