Healthcare advocate for low-income patients to be honored at Nov. 13 ceremony

Cambridge, MA—The Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) has named social entrepreneur Rebecca Onie this year’s recipient of the Gleitsman Citizen Activist Award for her work as CEO of Health Leads, a nonprofit that works to create a healthcare system that addresses all patients’ basic resource needs as a standard part of quality care. The award and $125,000 prize, bestowed biennially to leaders “who have struggled to correct social injustice in the United States,” will be presented to Onie at a ceremony in Cambridge on November 13th.

A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, as well as a 2009 MacArthur Fellow, Onie cofounded Health Leads in 1996 with Dr. Barry Zuckerman in response to doctors’ concerns that the treatments and medications they were prescribing for the poorest of their patients were having little benefit because the patients lacked basic resources such as adequate food and proper heating. Last year Health Leads trained nearly 1,000 college student advocates who “filled” doctors’ prescriptions for these resources. Working in clinics and community health centers in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, New York City, Providence, and Washington, D.C., the volunteers helped nearly 8,000 low-income patients and their families receive this vital assistance. Moreover, 90% of the volunteers who were graduating seniors entered graduate programs or jobs related to healthcare and/or poverty reduction.


CAMBRIDGE—A unique laboratory study shows that leaders with more leadership responsibility in fact experience lower stress levels (as measured by stress hormone (i.e., cortisol) levels) than peers who have less responsibility.

The results of the study will appear in this week's Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research team, led by Jennifer Lerner, professor of public policy and management at Harvard Kennedy School, engaged senior leaders from the public and private sectors who volunteered to serve as participants in a wide-ranging investigation on leadership and stress—a first of its kind. The leaders included military officers, government officials, nonprofit administrators, and business leaders from the United States and around the world.

[The study's full text and supporting data are available for free download.]

"There is a strong theme in the literature on leadership that the higher people rise in leadership positions, the more stress they have to manage," Lerner observes. "But when we studied people who actually hold positions of leadership, we found that they tended to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to non-leaders."


Cambridge, MA—Leslie and Abigail Wexner, founding and sustaining donors of the Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard's Kennedy School, announced today an additional gift of $3 million to the Center. Their gift, an extension of the couple's longtime commitment to inspiring, preparing, and connecting tomorrow's global leaders, brings the Wexners' total commitment to the Center and HKS to more than $42 million.


70% of this year’s participants are the first in their families to attend college

Cambridge, MA—The Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) announced today that the third installment of its Latino Leadership Initiative (LLI) will comprise the most diverse group of students to date, more than 70% of whom are the first in their families to attend college. The number of participants in the initiative, the number of participating universities, and the number of financial sponsors have also grown.

Launched in 2010, LLI is a weeklong program that prepares rising college seniors for the opportunities and challenges they will face in the coming decades. On June 23, Harvard will welcome to campus 41 students who were chosen from a highly selective application process. The participating schools are Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles); University of California, Merced; Texas A&M International University; the University of Houston; the University of Massachusetts–Boston; the University of Texas–Pan American; Miami Dade College; and, for the first time, the City University of New York's Macaulay Honors College.


Cambridge, MA—Not only in politics but across the board in eight different sectors of national life, Americans have lost confidence in their leaders over the past year. Overall, some 77% say that the country now has a crisis in leadership and confidence levels have fallen to the lowest levels recorded in recent times.

Those are among the key findings of a nation-wide poll, the National Leadership Index (NLI), released today by the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School and Merriman River Group. The survey is the seventh annual measurement of public attitudes toward 13 different sectors of American life, ranging from business and non-profits to politics and religion.

"It is understandable that in these hard times, when so much frustration and anger is directed at Washington and Wall Street, Americans would be down on the performance of their leaders. But the levels of unhappiness have reached a point where they threaten the coherence and stability of our society," said David Gergen, professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership.

"Fortunately," he continued, "Americans still like to believe that our problems can be solved through better leaders. But we don’t have much time—these results should be a fire bell in the night for leaders in every walk of life."