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ClassACT co-sponsors major assembly with Weatherhead Center for International Affairs to ask, "What would Benazir do today?"

Leading in the Muslim World: What would Benazir Do Today: a daylong investigation of what it means to lead in the Muslim world now, what Benazir Bhutto might have been able to do as Pakistan’s Prime Minister under ideal circumstances now, and how supporting Muslim students at the Kennedy School and elsewhere at Harvard--through fellowship support, mentoring and networking with Benazir’s classmates and spreading the word among a wider audience--can help.

Convened by Jacqueline Bhabha, Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Chan School of Public Health, Smith Lecturer at Harvard Law School and Director of Research at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard, a panel of thoughtful experts will be joined at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs by distinguished members of Bhutto’s Harvard class and current Kennedy School students from Pakistan and elsewhere, to see what can be done.

Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program

Benazir Bhutto Our class is unique in having included the first woman prime minister of a Muslim country, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated when she returned to Pakistan from exile in 2007. Because ClassACT’s purpose is to bring together Harvard-Radcliffe ’73 classmates to address important local, national and international issues by initiating change, our initial Class Act is to establish a program to honor our classmate Benazir Bhutto by creating a network of leaders who can bring positive change to troubled parts of the world.

Using the skills and resources of the Class of 1973, working in concert with Harvard’s Kennedy School, we are launching the Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program to identify, educate and support promising Fellows who have a proven and ongoing commitment to the principles Bhutto espoused: democracy, equality for women, reconciliation of religious and cultural differences, and education for all.

The Leadership Program is comprised of several components: A fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School, a mentoring program between members of our class and Fellows and Associates at the Kennedy School and elsewhere at Harvard, and an educational outreach initiative. In some Islamic countries there is a distressing convergence of violence and terrorism on the one hand with inadequate support for the rights of women on the other. Therefore, the Bhutto Leadership Program will aim first for women applicants from a cluster of Islamic countries from Lebanon to Bangladesh. The Fellows will be expected to return to their home countries and to apply what they have learned through leadership in politics, or public or private administration, that will lead to principle- based change. The Program aims to create a significant network of Fellows--and Associates, current scholars already at Harvard--who, over time, will support each other, enhancing the likelihood of their success.

The Advisory Board, still in formation, includes Sanam Bhutto, Kimball Chen, Sen. Al Franken, former Ambassador Peter Galbraith, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, President of Croatia, and former Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

The Steering Committee consists of Ann Bailen Fisher, Kimball Chen, Marion Dry, Hamilton Fish, Peter Galbraith, Sallie Gouverneur, Bahman Mossavar-Rahmani, Carl Muller, Jonathan Sprague, Therese Steiner and Holly Weeks.

Climate Change Initiative

Several members of the class, who are profoundly involved in the issues surrounding climate change and the environment, seek to work together to create and promote effective ways to raise awareness and drive change. This initiative is in its early stages and we welcome with enthusiasm other class members with energy, curiosity, ideas and contacts. Jonathan Sprague will be the facilitator for gathering interested classmates and developing specific areas of focus and action. Contact him to learn more.

For ideas, reports and videos on the subject of climate change, several by our distinguished classmates, visit the Brainstorming Center or the Readings section in our Resources tab.

If you are interested in contributing funds to ClassACT to help underwrite these efforts, contact Treasurer George Putnam.