2021 Harvard Board Elections: Please Vote!

Your NAAHU leadership has met and held substantive conversations with each of these distinguished candidates for Harvard's Board of Overseers and Elected Directors, whom we feel will serve as excellent leaders and allies in our continued work together. 

NAAHU enthusiastically endorses the following candidates for the Board of Overseers:

Megan Red Shirt-Shaw, EdM '17 - Profile & Diversity Statement
Natalie Unterstell, MPA '16  - Profile & Diversity Statement
Dr. Yvette Efevbera, SM '11, SD '18 - Profile & Diversity Statement
Sheryl WuDunn, MBA '86 - Profile & Diversity Statement
María Teresa Kumar, MPP '01 - Profile & Diversity Statement

Each alumna/us can vote for up to five Overseers candidates this year. 

NAAHU leadership also enthusiastically endorses the following candidates for Elected Directors: 

Maiya Williams Verrone, AB '84 - Profile & Diversity Statement
Iñigo Sánchez-Asiaín, MBA '90 - Profile & Diversity Statement

Each alumna/us can vote for up to six HAA Elected Director candidates this year. 

Why I Vote - Tiffany Smalley

As the University's highest elected body, established in 1642, the Harvard Board of Overseers comprises "Harvard University alumni who bring to bear their best judgment and deep commitment to Harvard’s overarching academic mission and long-term institutional interests." I vote in the Board of Overseers elections because I believe it is in the University's long-term institutional interest to serve as an engine for change and, at a minimum, remain accountable for its own historical commitment to Native students. 

Over the past few weeks, it has been a real pleasure to connect with the Harvard Board of Overseers candidates that NAAHU is endorsing for the 2021 election. I've found their backgrounds inspiring, their platforms compelling, and I am impressed with the ways they've already served as agents of change beyond Harvard. I am especially motivated to vote this year because I believe these candidates will serve as strong allies, rally for increased representation and support for Native students at Harvard, and help make our alma mater a more hospitable and equitable environment in a way that inspires other institutions to do the same. I encourage my fellow alumni to participate and vote this year - it only takes about 6 minutes of action today to help bring 6 years of change tomorrow. 


Tiffany Smalley
A.B. Government, Class of 2011
NAAHU Board Member


Why I Vote - Noah Diver Cominsky

As a recent graduate of Harvard, it can feel enticing to distance oneself from the stress and work associated with being a student there. And if I'm being honest, I sometimes don't have the desire to engage with the bureaucracy if its not a necessity. However, as reflect on my own position, I realize this is the exact reason to engage: to make the experience for the students coming after us better. 

As alumni, we are in a position to enact change. Through the Harvard Alumni Association and the Board of Overseers, we can directly choose who is representing us and our concerns in the Harvard administration. It's sometimes easier to resign to the status quo, but, as alumni, we are presented an opportunity to enact change and refocus the concerns of the administration to those actually affecting students today. And that's why I'm voting in this Harvard election cycle.

I vote to give a voice to the students who can't vote, to bring their concerns to the table in the bureaucracy and administration that can sometimes feel so distant. Our endorsed-candidates have proven their commitment to Indigenous students at Harvard, and I encourage you all to participate in these elections.


Noah Diver Cominsky (Ojibwe)
A.B. Government + Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality, Class of 2020
NAAHU Board Member


Why I Vote - Emily Van Dyke

Oki Niksokowa (Hello my relatives),

With just four days left in the 2021 Harvard Elections, I’m sharing my story in the hope it’ll inspire you to set aside all of 5 minutes to join me in choosing which of our fellow alumni will represent us on the Board of Overseers for the next 6 years and as HAA Elected Directors for the next 3 years.

I moved to Bethesda right after college to work at NIH through a small post-bacc program designed to increase minority enrollment in PhD and MD programs. I then moved to Seattle to study medicine so I could become a rural pediatrician. Receiving Harvard University Election Ballots in the mail left me nonplussed. I was busy, unsure of how to differentiate between distinguished but unknown-to-me alumni candidates, and unclear about how these elections pertained to me. Yet I now see voting in these elections as integral to the many years of alumni advocacy I’ve done in the years since. If we don’t raise our voices in these elections, candidates will have little incentive to insist that Harvard follows through with its inclusion & belonging promises. We carefully vetted each candidate we’ve endorsed and are genuinely thrilled at the possibility that they’ll be representing all alumni on these important Harvard boards.

Just listen to a snippet of what Megan Red Shirt-Shaw has to say about Diversity & Inclusion at Harvard: “We cannot admit students of color to the university without also creating robust support networks for them on the other side, which includes fostering a curriculum and classroom environment that reflects their experiences and perspectives.”

This is exactly what I’ve been saying to Harvard administrators for many years now, but Megan will be in a unique position to really be heard over the next 6 years if we take 5 minutes to vote for her right now.

Similarly, here’s Dr. Yvette Efevbera on renaming: she seeks to encourage “re-examining how its rhetoric supports or inhibits moral leadership, including in the use of its name ‘Overseers.’ ” 

Less than 15% of alumni chose last year’s candidates, which means that (1) we really can have an impact on the outcome of these elections if a significant number of us vote and (2) our voices are urgently needed to elect those candidates who have directly pledged to NAAHU leadership that they will champion long-overdue change at Harvard.

I vote because I was the first in my family to dare to dream I could attend Harvard -- let alone graduate from Harvard twice. And so it took me years to understand that I was wasting my alumni privilege of voting in these elections. Please vote this weekend so that we can have our voices and priorities heard!

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Emily R. Van Dyke (Siksika)
Honors A.B. in Biochemical Sciences (2003)
MPH in Family & Community Health / Maternal & Child Health (2009)

P.S. - Unsure of how to vote? To find your unique Election Validation Number, search your emails for “Harvard 2021 Elections” and vote online at https://vote.escvote.com/harvard before 5pm on Tuesday, May 18th.