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  • September 15, 2023 9:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Suggested End of Summer Reading

    By Marilyn Go, Jim Harbison, and Jacki Swearingen

    Summer has not officially ended, so there is still time to squeeze in some reading about voting rights. This article contains a compilation of articles and other writings concerning redistricting, voting and related issues that may provide insight into the current and continuing challenges to protecting our democracy.

            This past June, the Supreme Court issued two significant decisions concerning voting rights and the protections under federal and state law. In Allen v. Milligan, the Court reaffirmed the  framework of the Voting Rights Act in holding that the Congressional map drawn by the Alabama legislature violated the Act. In Moore v. Harper, the court affirmed the authority of the North Carolina State Supreme Court to protect against gerrymandering in invalidating the "independent state legislature" theory that the legislature had the sole power to impose measures suppressing voter rights. The full impact of these decisions is yet to be determined.

    •   The Significance of Allen v. Milligan, from the lawyer who argued the case, (6/23/2023)

    •  Thanks to the Supreme Court, Elections Are Safe from at Least One Threat(6/29/2023)

            Notwithstanding the Supreme Court directive in Allen and a prior decision in 2022, Alabama refused to comply when redrawing its maps.  Ultimately, a three-judge federal panel, perturbed by the open defiance of the state, appointed a special master to draw maps.  See Singleton v. Allen:

            •   Alabama Defies the Voting Rights Act(noting that Louisiana was also flouting a court order to redraw maps).

      Federal Court Blocks Alabama Congressional Map After Republican Lawmakers Defied U.S. Supreme Ct.

            In Florida, discriminatory redistricting maps were put into place by Governor DeSantis, who refused to adopt Congressional maps drawn by the state legislature controlled by Republican majorities. A state court judge recently found after a hearing that those maps violated the State Constitution by diminishing the ability of Black Floridians to elect a representative of their choice. Alabama and Florida have filed appeals, thereby preventing implementation of properly drawn maps before the next election. 

    •   Alabama again appeals to S.Ct.

            •   Florida appeals a judge's ruling that struck down redistricting map pushed by DeSantis(9/7/2023)

    Challenges to redistricting maps have been brought in a number of other states. For example, in Georgia, there is a trial (ongoing as of September 11) involving claims that Congressional maps drawn violate the Voting Rights Act. In Wisconsin, a lawsuit was brought raising claims that redistricting maps, which include a number of districts that are not contiguous, are the product of extreme partisan redistricting.  That case has recently been countered with efforts to stop Justice Janet Protasiewicz (D), who was elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court this past  April by over 11% of the vote, from sitting and considering this case. 

    •   Georgia redistricting trial opens with debate over federal requirements for Black representation.

      •   Wisconsin Republicans’ Nuclear Option(9/12/2023).

      •   Fighting Partisan Gerrymandering in Wisconsin, (8/2/2023) 

            In addition, lawsuits have recently been brought challenging the validity and application of voting laws. For example, in Mississippi, a federal judge enjoined implementation of a new state law restricting the assistance that individuals and organizations could provide to Mississippi voters needing assistance due to disability, blindness, or inability to read or write. In July, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit struck down Mississippi's lifetime voting ban on persons convicted of felonies, including crimes having nothing to do with voting or governance, such as theft of timber or writing a bad check for $100. This law has prevented 10% of the voting population in Mississippi from voting and is similar to laws in 11 other states.

    •   Federal Court Blocks Implementation of Mississippi’s New Voting Law

    • Court Strikes Down Mississippi’s Lifetime Felony Voting Ban

    In Florida, a federal court enjoined a recently enacted law that imposed a $50,000 fine on organizations who have non-citizens, including lawful permanent residents, assist in collecting or handling voter registration forms on the organization’s behalf.

    •   Federal Court Blocks Florida Law that Targets Voter Registration, Civic Engagement, and Political Speech.

    In North Carolina, the legislature passed an omnibus voting bill in June which, inter alia, that  limits the time period for sending mail-in ballots while increasing the time to challenge such ballots. The law also gives poll watchers the ability to move to listen to conversations between voters and election officials. On August 24, 2023, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the bill, but the veto could be overridden by the legislature which is controlled by a supermajority of Republicans. 

    •   Unpacking North Carolina Republicans’ Voter Suppression Bill S.B. 747

    Private individuals have also engaged in efforts to suppress the right to vote of others, such as challenges brought in Georgia to almost 100,000 voter registrations. Similarly, lawsuits have been brought to decertify election results, including a recently dismissed lawsuit brought by voters who had unsuccessfully sought to decertify certain prior election results in Arizona.

    •   Close to 100,000 Voter Registrations Were Challenged in Georgia — Almost All by Just Six Right-Wing Activists.

    •   Deja Vu: After Arizona Supreme Court Dismisses Fringe Lawsuit, Similar Case Seeks To Decertify 2022 Election Results.  

    Last, there are two upcoming elections on September 19 that may affect control of the House of Representatives in two states:  (1) a special election in Pennsylvania to replace former State Representative Sara Innamorato (D) whose resignation in July resulted in the Democrats losing a slim majority of one seat; and  (2) a special election in New Hampshire to replace Benjamin T. Bartlett IV (R), who resigned in April from the New Hampshire House of Representatives where Republicans currently hold a one-seat majority.





    Further information about both elections and how to vote in these states is available from the League of Women Voters in Pennsylvania, at, or in New Hampshire at We encourage classmates who live in the states holding elections this year not only to exercise their right to vote, but also to volunteer at organizations providing assistance to voters, as mentioned in the above articles and on the spreadsheet entitled “Voting Activism Opportunities” posted on the ClassACT HR73 website. 

    We also encourage all classmates to celebrate National Voter Registration Day, which falls on September 19 this year, by participating in community voter registration efforts. Information regarding opportunities to help people register to vote is available HERE.

    In sum, America is firm in its commitment to democratic principles protected in the right to vote, but we are challenged by continuing efforts to erode democracy. However, we take heart in the statement of 13 Presidential Foundations and Centers across the United States, which for the first time, issued a joint statement on September 7th regarding the future of our nation and an urgent call to action for all Americans. The statement notes that “democracy holds us together. We are a country rooted in the rule of law, where the protection of the rights of all people is paramount.”  See HERE.
  • September 15, 2023 8:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    “Instead of selective humanitarianism, Europe should protect the rights of all asylum seekers and refugees.”

    by Laila Khondkar 

    My home country, Bangladesh, is presently hosting around one million Rohingya people who had to flee Myanmar after the genocide in 2017. Around ten million Bangladeshis lived as refugees in India during our liberation war in 1971. One of the biggest sources of income for Bangladesh is the remittance sent by labor migrants in different parts of the world. I have lived in several countries for work and studies, and have experience of working with the Rohingya population in Bangladesh and refugees from Ivory Coast in Liberia. So, the concerns related to refugees and migration is not only a matter of theories to me or something that happens to other people in the news; this is also very close to my heart.

    Intensive Summer Course on Migration and Refugee Studies (7-30 July, 2023) was offered by The François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, in collaboration with the Refugee and Migration Studies Hub at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece.  Attending the course has been a rewarding experience.

    The objective of the course was to offer participants both conceptual and practical engagement with key issues related to contemporary forced migration. The course was organized around a multidisciplinary, rights-based curriculum that covered legal, medical, environmental and broader social-science approaches to migration policy and practice. The course included lectures, seminars, interactive class sessions and fieldwork (e.g., visits to camps, simulation on rescuing asylum seekers). It was held in four sites–Athens, Ancient Olympia, Nafplio and Lesvos. Twenty-seven students participated (half of them were from Harvard and half from other Universities across the world). Expert lecturers included distinguished scholars and practitioners from different disciplines and backgrounds:  human rights lawyers; medical doctors; social workers; psychologists; educators; child-protection officers; first responders, and national and local governmental actors.  Visits to Ancient Agora, the Acropolis, Ancient Olympia and a performance of Medea at Epidaurus theater (2500 years old) were part of the course. We covered a lot of issues during three weeks. I want to highlight a few points that struck me as important.

    Having a discussion with two fishermen in Skamnia village was very inspiring, as they rescued people in 2015  when several million asylum seekers reached Greece by boat. Many ordinary people like them tried their best to support those who arrived. According to one fisherman, “We did not think of the race or religion of the person seeking asylum, we just wanted to do our best.” Even when public support to asylum seekers has decreased significantly, I appreciated the initial assistance the local communities have provided. We also met representatives of around ten NGOs that are offering legal, shelter, and other services to refugees and asylum seekers. They seemed very committed and trying to work hard despite funding constraints.

    Presently there are  an estimated 160,761 refugees and 22,139 asylum seekers in Greece. Asylum seekers have to live in camps on islands. There are few camps on the mainland; those are also quite far from the cities. We visited two camps, one close to Athens and another in Lesvos. The camps are not as crowded as they used to be at the peak of the crisis a few years ago, and the people living there receive food, shelter and some protection services. The visits were guided by the staff of the camps, and we did not have any opportunity to talk to the asylum seekers or organizations working with them. It was not possible for us to verify what we have heard and so I do not know about the quality of the services, or how the asylum seekers are being treated by the staff. The mobility of the asylum seekers is very strictly monitored and there is a strong presence of security guards. In Lesvos, we learnt that the asylum seekers will be moved to another camp which is being built inside a forest. Most of the people we have spoken with consider that camp as a prison.

    Those who register as asylum seekers and receive refugee status face a bleak situation. They lose all support and have to earn a living. Most refugees living in urban settings are unable to find work to support their families, as Greece continues to struggle economically in the aftermath of the 2015 financial crisis. The Greek government has been cutting back housing and financial support for refugees since 2019, which means thousands of people are facing destitution and homelessness. I have seen entire families begging on the streets of Athens.


    High unemployment rates have taken a toll on the local population as well. A robust integration program is needed to ensure that local residents as well as asylum seekers benefit from assistance. Even when the presentations made by the government representatives emphasized integration of refugees, my observations as well as discussions with people from refugee backgrounds made me think that what is happening is cultural assimilation. Refugees, especially those from Muslim backgrounds, are not able to assert their identity in terms of food, drinks, clothes etc. due to the fear that they will not be accepted by mainstream society.

    This is not a humanitarian crisis, but a political one. The European Union adopted border restrictions that have prevented people seeking sanctuary from entering Europe. The EU’s policies  mean that Greece, along with Italy, are being asked to shoulder much of the responsibility for the lives of those who have reached Europe. The European Union is giving money to these countries, but they need to do more by accepting refugees.

    The refugees from Ukraine were given temporary protection immediately by various European countries. This demonstrates that it is possible to address an issue if there is a political will to do so. Why were Ukrainian refugees treated differently than people from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq? All were fleeing from dangerous situations. The media reporting of the Ukrainian crisis clearly showed biases towards “white Europeans.” Roma people from Ukraine faced discrimination in various countries while seeking asylum. Every human life is equally valuable. Europe should be more consistent in protecting human rights.

    During various discussions, it was apparent that it is due to Islamophobia that asylum seekers from Middle Eastern countries face discrimination in Greece. Greeks have memories of the Ottoman empire for almost three hundred years, which is deep rooted in their collective psyche. Many still equate Muslims with Ottomans/Turks, and they do not like the Muslims or are “afraid” of them! What bothered me was that this narrative is so normalized as if it is “justified.” One academic said, “Greek people need more time before they can accept Muslims.” This type of attitude is quite alarming, as xenophobia and Islamophobia may increase with time if those are not addressed in a proactive way through policy, legislation, public awareness, etc.

    Migration is as old as human history. However, some passport holders travel more freely than others in the present world.  It is worth remembering that more than 75% of all refugees and asylum seekers live in neighboring countries in the Global South. Do Western people realize this? Climate crises, conflicts etc. will make many people flee their own countries. There has to be a process to support them. With declining fertility rates, Europe will need more migrant workers. People try to reach Europe illegally, as going there legally is almost impossible for most people. Having regular migration may be beneficial for all concerned.

    The rise of right-wing politics in Europe is a matter of grave concern. The process of “othering” that they do regarding refugees and asylum seekers is dangerous. Is Europe trying to send a very strong signal to the asylum seekers (especially those from Muslim backgrounds) that they should not try to reach Europe? Will Europe continue to practice selective humanitarianism?

    The writer is grateful to ClassACT HR73 for funding her participation in the Intensive Summer Course on Migration and Refugee Studies.

    **It should be noted that Laila’s opinions do not necessarily reflect those of ClassACT HR73.

  • July 26, 2023 2:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Marilyn Go '73

    Edited by Jim Harbison '73, Ryan O'Connell '73, and Jacki Swearingen '73

    Much attention has recently been focused on a Special Election in Ohio on August 8 to amend the Ohio State Constitution. On the ballot is the question of whether to raise the voter threshold for approving amendments to the Constitution, a change sought by the Republican-led legislature. Critics of the proposal say that it is actually designed to curb current efforts by Ohioans to protect abortion rights in their Constitution, as well as to strengthen the power of the Ohio GOP lawmakers, who currently hold  super-majorities in both the House and Senate.

    We encourage you to participate in the upcoming election in the following ways.  If you live in Ohio, we suggest you familiarize yourselves with the issues raised and make every possible effort to vote in this off-cycle election. This will help to ensure that the outcome reflects the will of the majority of Ohio voters, not a small minority with targeted interests. If you are already registered to vote in Ohio, you may vote by mail, but must request an absentee ballot by August 1 from the Ohio Secretary of State. See instructions here.

    We also encourage you to support or volunteer at organizations that will assist voters in Ohio, including the following:

    You can also provide support virtually: :

    • VoteRiders August 3, 7:00 - 8:00pm - Virtual text bank to provide information about new Ohio voter ID laws

    Although Ohio is currently viewed as a "red" state, the political landscape in Ohio is complex. In recent Presidential elections, Barack Obama won Ohio in close contests in 2008 and 2012. Donald Trump then won the vote of Ohioans by around 8% points in 2016 and 2020, a far higher margin than in any prior presidential election in Ohio. Notably, since 1896, Ohio has voted for the winning presidential candidate, except in 1944 (Franklin D. Roosevelt), 1960 (John F. Kennedy), and, most recently, Joe Biden in 2020.[1] The state has often been viewed as a key barometer of public opinion on presidential candidates.

    Data from the Ohio Secretary of State for 2021 indicates that of the almost 8 million registered voters in Ohio, about 6.2 million voters were listed as unaffiliated. Registered Democrats who generally reside in the urban, northeastern areas of the state outnumber registered Republicans, who primarily reside in the rural areas of Ohio, by about 100,000. The U.S. Senators elected from this state come from both parties: Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, and J.D. Vance, a Republican. So do the U.S. House Representatives: 10 Republicans and 5 Democrats. Sen. Brown, who is up for re-election next year, is likely to face a serious challenge in a race that may possibly affect political control of the U.S. Senate.

    At the state level, the Republicans control both the House of Representatives and Senate with super-majorities. According to several political commentators, they have achieved this dominant position through extreme gerrymandering, despite a prohibition against extreme partisanship in redistricting contained in an amendment to the Ohio Constitution. Voters overwhelmingly passed the amendment in 2018.

    Notwithstanding this constitutional directive, both state and congressional maps that Republican mapmakers drew have been challenged and found to be in violation of the State Constitution a number of times. In 2022, Republican lawmakers chose twice to ignore orders by the Ohio Supreme Court to revise the overly partisan maps. By letting the clock run out, the legislators used a congressional map previously found inadequate.

    Voters have again brought challenges to districts drawn by the Ohio legislature for the current election cycle. The Ohio Supreme Court upheld those challenges and the legislators appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 30, 2023, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the Ohio Supreme Court to reconsider the case in light of Harper v. Moore, a case in which the Court invalidated partisan maps drawn by North Carolina legislators. Rejecting the view forwarded by Ohio Republican legislators that they can ignore an Ohio Supreme Court order to redraw the state’s congressional district map for the 2024 election, the U.S. Supreme Court emphasized that state lawmakers cannot make congressional redistricting decisions unchecked by state law and courts. Republican leaders have said that maps will be redrawn this summer.

    The state legislature has engaged in other efforts to limit the rights of voters. In January 2023, Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, signed a sweeping package of election law changes that, among other things, imposes the state's first (and very stringent) photo ID requirements, shortens the time to request and return an absentee ballot, and narrows the windows after Election Day for returning and curing ballots.

    On the ballot for the special election is a proposal to increase the requirements for amending the state Constitution. Ohio is one of 24 states that gives its citizens the power of initiative, which, in Ohio, includes the right to initiate new laws or to place proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. In 1912, voters approved an amendment to the Ohio Constitution to give citizens initiative and referendum powers, a measure championed by the late President Theodore Roosevelt as a way to force an unresponsive government to address the public’s concerns.

    In a vote divided along partisan lines, the Republican-led legislature has scheduled a special election in August to vote on raising the current simple majority threshold (50% of the votes +1) for passing constitutional amendments to 60%. (However, the Legislature did not suggest changing voting requirements for passage of its bills or for voter referendum - i.e., the right of voters to reject legislation passed). The ballot will also include a vote on a proposal to double the number of counties from which signatures are required in order to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot, from 44 counties (50%) to all 88 counties (100%). In addition, the proposed change would eliminate an existing 10-day cure period to fix any errors in signatures collected. If the proposed constitutional amendment is approved, Ohio would become the only state to require citizen campaigns to collect signatures from all of its 88 counties.

    Critics of the proposed amendment include bipartisan groups of former governors and attorneys general and more than 240 other groups. They note that the increased requirements may make voter-initiated amendments practically impossible and would greatly enhance the gerrymandered legislature’s power over the Ohio Constitution to the detriment of Ohio voters. The amendment would effectively give 40% of the population a veto power over any contemplated change to its Constitution.

    A reason the Legislature seeks to increase requirements for constitutional amendments is, among other things, to thwart contemplated efforts to amend the Ohio Constitution to protect abortion rights. In 2019, the Ohio Legislature passed a law banning abortions after any embryonic cardiac activity is detected. This short time period was highlighted in news reports when a ten-year old girl, who was pregnant after being raped, had to travel to Indiana to get an abortion after the Ohio law went into effect when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

    A lower state court subsequently stayed implementation of the Ohio law. Nonetheless, abortion rights activists in Ohio have collected over 700,000 signatures to place on the November election ballot a constitutional amendment to protecting a woman's right to an abortion.[2] Polls show that a large majority of Ohio voters support the right to an abortion, particularly for victims of rape and incest.

    Despite having acknowledged that the turnout for elections held in the summer is usually low, the Legislature has scheduled the special election for August 8, 2023. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled on June 16, 2023, in a 4-3 decision along party lines, that the proposed constitutional amendment may be placed on the August 8 ballot even though the legislature had, earlier in January, outlawed scheduling summer elections.

    [1] However, the number of Ohio's presidential electoral votes has declined from a high of 26 in 1964 and 1968 to 16 votes following the 2020 census.

    [2] In Ohio, before citizen-initiated measures for constitutional amendments may be placed on the ballot, proponents must meet a signature requirement of 10 percent of the vote for governor, or 413,487 for 2023. See here. The language of the proposed amendment is available here.

  • July 06, 2023 6:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Did you miss the Harvard Allyship Series event honoring the legacy of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on June 21? We have you covered! Watch the video recording here, and learn more about the event below.

    Allyship Series: Honoring the Leadership Legacy of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto AB ‘73

    On June 21, 2023, Benazir Bhutto, the first female Prime Minister of Pakistan would be turning 70. Her life was cut short by an assassin on December 27, 2007. Benazir believed in democracy, equality for women, reconciliation of religious and cultural differences and education, without gender or religious bias and she was a beloved and admired member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Class of 1973.

    To honor her and promote her legacy, her classmates, through their organization, ClassACT HR73 founded the Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program which provides fellowships to support scholars enrolled in the Edward S. Mason Program (MC/MPA) of the Kennedy School of Government Program.

    In this Allyship Series Forum we will honor Benazir Bhutto by exploring her legacy. Peter Gabraith AB ’73, former US Ambassador to Croatia and Benazir’s life-long friend and advisor will speak about Benazir’s life, commitment to her people, and courage. Marion Dry AB ‘73 chair of ClassACT HR’73 will share the story of the creation of the Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program and its impact to date, and, Leigh Hafrey AB ’73, a ClassACT board member, will speak with this year’s Bhutto Fellow, Laila Khondkar of Bangladesh, about her mission, her work and her year as the Bhutto Fellow at HKS.

    This Harvard Alumni Allyship Series event is being held in in partnership with Class Act 73 and the Harvard Clubs of Ireland and Pakistan.

  • June 23, 2023 1:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)



    Amazingly, our 50th reunion has come and gone. Like a wedding, a battle or a coronation, it was months in the planning and anticipation, and over in the blink of an eye.

    Click here for full photo gallery of classmate photos

    The numbers were eye-popping. Some 484 classmates attended. Total attendance was 722. That is a lot of old people with time on their hands! Longtime friendships were renewed, new ones were made. People scrutinized and caught up with one another. They ate, drank and danced. People took naps. (As ClassACT media maven Rick Brotman said: “It was exhaustive…and exhausting.”) As good a time was had as could be had at this age.

    “Cordiality was in the air,” said ClassACT communications committee member Jacki Swearingen. “We all struck up conversations with people we did not know or with their spouses and partners. We all wanted to make each other feel welcome, appreciated and remembered. We used the time to laugh at the follies of youth as well as to reach out to reconnect decades later.”

    Classmates and guests were able to sample from a banquet of provocative activities that would do credit to a Gen Ed curriculum. There was news, weather (or at least climate change) and sports. What did we hear, and what did we see?

    On Tuesday evening, early arrivals were treated to a showing of classmate Donna Brown Guillaume’s heartrending film Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives. Following the release of the Report on Slavery at Harvard last year, this film and the accompanying panel discussion brought home the unspeakable barbarism of America’s Original Sin. 

    The panel included Guillaume, Vincent Brown (Harvard’s Charles Warren Professor of American History and Professor of African American Studies) and classmate Catherine Clinton, the Denman Professor of American History at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Sitting together in Sanders Theatre and watching Oprah Winfrey and Samuel L. Jackson intone the piercing words of formerly enslaved people reminded us all how we had hoped in our youth to redress past injustices and cruelty. “I was honored to be a part of this film when HBO first approached me, and am extremely grateful to classmates who, in planning the 2023 reunion, raised the idea of screening it,” said Donna.

    Wednesday morning brought a reunion mainstay: the report on the Class Survey. Ever-jovial classmates Walt Mercer (co-chair with Stan Mark) and Therese Steiner took us through a PowerPoint presentation. (The survey results are available here.) Many thanks for their hard work go to the chairs and Therese, plus classmates on the Survey committee: Marilyn Go, Rich Kelly, Manuel Monteiro, Walter Morris and Rick Weil.) Most of the 481 respondents were happy with how their lives and careers turned out. Looking back at our time at Harvard: “If we could have had a mulligan, 30% said we would have liked to have studied more.” (Three cheers for we of the 70%!) One thing we all seem to want to do in the time left to us: “travel, travel, travel.”

    This session was followed by an all-classmate panel titled “What You Believe About Aging Might Not be True,” moderated by Patty Potter and including experts Greg Hinrichsen and Robert Waldinger. (None of whom seemed to have aged very much.) The biggest myth? “Aging is not what we thought,” says Patty “The awareness of having our time being limited leads us to pay attention to what is important, particularly relationships. This can lead to greater happiness and satisfaction than our previous focus on accomplishment.”

    Many think that if there’s one event that should be mandatory at every reunion, it’s the Memorial Service—difficult to sit through and for all that, necessary and restorative. There were stirring readings by classmates including Louise Reid Ritchie, Ellen Denniston and Stephen Madsen, and exquisite musical performances by ClassACT HR73 Chair and Co-Founder Marion Dry, Katharine Flanders Mukherji, Yeou-Cheng Ma, Thérèse Steiner, Ken Sullivan and Jerome Harris, plus the reunion choir coordinated by classmate Christopher Fletcher. Most somber, of course, was the reading of the names of the 153 classmates who are no longer with us.

    Then it was on to the steps of Widener for some needed sunlight and levity—the taking of our class photo. The embattled photographer must have been wondering which group was harder to handle: us or a bunch of second-graders? The afternoon’s activities closed with an experiment called “Open Mic: Me in Three.” The idea was for each participant to give a talk—limited, supposedly, to three minutes—on “passions, experiences and perspectives that are close to [his or her] heart.” This was the brainchild of Louise Ritchie. It turned out to be charmingly whimsical, thanks to the bravery and talents of, among others, classmates Winifred Creamer, Elaine Denniston, Ned Notis-McConarty, Sarah Ulerick and Ray Urban.

    After dinner, where we were serenaded by the Kuumba Singers (introduced by classmate Linda Jackson Sowell), we enjoyed a showing of “Love Story,” which of course was filmed on campus during our freshman year. Classmate Joe Bertagna, who was an All-Ivy goalie for Harvard and doubled as a netminder in the movie, was the master of ceremonies. The highlight was the appearance of ageless former Crimson star and coach Bill Cleary ’56, wearing the same helmet he used while serving as Ryan O’Neal’s stunt double. Spoiler alert: Love still means never having to say you’re sorry. (Sorry!)

    Thursday brought out some big guns. ClassACT HR73 sponsored symposia on two of the most critical issues of our time: democracy and the environment. “Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century” included classmates Roger Ferguson, Al Franken, Bill Kristol, Patti Saris and moderator E.J. Dionne. They were joined by Danielle Allen, the James Bryant Conant University Professor and Director of the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard. Professor Allen presented three key proposals for reinvigorating American democracy: expanding the House of Representatives by adding more members, setting term limits of 18 years for Supreme Court Justices, and taxing social media-targeted ad revenue in order to invest those funds in local journalism.

    Asked about the gap between public support for gun control and abortion rights and recent court decisions and legislation, former Senator Franken (D-MN) pointed to the ways that the gerrymandering of state legislative and House districts has skewed laws and policies in the years since 2010. Later, he got back into comedian mode. When an audience member asked him if he planned to run for president, Al indicated he would not, because if he won, he would then have to take the job.

    The second ClassACT panel was “From the Charles River to Half-Earth: 50 Years to 50 Percent,” a continuation of the Environmental Committee’s efforts to support the ideas of the late Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson. Moderator John Kress welcomed the contributions of ten classmates: John Adams, Jesse Ausubel, Kimball Chen, Lindsay Clarkson, Robert Dreher, Henrietta Wigglesworth Lodge, Michael Mayer, Anne MacKinnon, Roger Myerson and Sharon Shurts Tisher. Each offered concrete plans for preserving and restoring natural habitats to benefit the Earth’s creatures, and the group announced two new initiatives that classmates are invited to join. John sees this as just a beginning. “Members of ClassAct HR73 are bursting with ideas on how to improve our environments and solve some of the problems that we as humans have created on this planet,” he said. “We welcome everyone’s input and encouragement.”

    At the same time that the environmental session was held, Arthur Feinsod was leading five fellow classmates—Kavery Kaul, Marie House Kohler, Sandra Mathews, Louise Reid Ritchie and James Snyder– in a discussion of “The Role and Responsibility of the Arts in Today’s Culture.” Classmate Brian Butler hands the envelope for best performance to Marie for her “dramatic reading, recreating the young girl finding the smutty book in the family library.”

    After lunch and before the afternoon symposiums, several classmates walked across the Common to the Radcliffe Yard where there was an Open House. Buildings of interest included the Schlesinger Library which had on display many artifacts from the Class of 73 and other reunion classes. Yearbooks, photographs and strike posters could be viewed. In addition, if you didn't remember your college phone number, you could look it up in the directory of students!

    Thursday afternoon’s session—on ”Sports and Society”—promised some literal fun and games. Instead, Sanders Theatre became an arena for a discussion of how sports have changed since we were in school—and generally not for the better. The moderator was yours truly, a classic ink-stained wretch. Intrepid Joe Bertagna was joined on the panel by former All-Ivy basketball player turned sportscasting superstar James Brown, and Radcliffe and U.S. Olympic team rower Charlotte Crane. All spoke with humor and heart, especially when it came to the hijacking of youth sports. The heavily recruited JB (we are referring to James Brown here) was most affecting when he recalled how when as a high school senior he began to have second thoughts about his commitment to Harvard, his mother (nickname: “The Sarge”) told him that he had made a promise to come to Cambridge and he was going to honor it, by gum! Would that happen today, when student-athletes can negotiate ever-higher compensation? (On a personal note: Moderating this panel was one of the most meaningful assignments of my life.)

    After a long day, those with energy could relax at a wine tasting conducted by classmate William Nesto.

    Thursday night we let our hair down. (What is left of it, anyway.) Our class dinner began with entertainment from the Reunion Choir and continued with old reliable Sundance, which was its usual smash hit. You never saw so many septuagenarians boogying to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash!” (And how many times have we heard “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,,” anyway?) We hope chiropractors were at the ready.

    Friday morning, those with extra energy could avail themselves of a small group tour at the Harvard Art Museums of Edvard Munch prints and paintings from the collection of the parents of classmate Phil Straus. Phil says, “The Harvard Art Museums gave seven small groups fantastic docent tours of 24 Munch works on paper. I hope this taste of beauty, emotion, and experimentation will convince you to join us for a show of the whole collection in 2025.”

    Friday also brought the final symposium, this one on “Race, Reckoning and Repair: Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery—What’s Next.” Classmate Sylvester Monroe moderated a panel that included classmates Rebecca Sykes and Seth Waxman as well as Richard Cellini, the inaugural director of the Harvard Slavery Remembrance Program, and Alden Fossett ’21. The panelists took up questions posed in the Report on Slavery at Harvard to discuss the possible ways that Harvard University and its alumni can redress the crimes of slavery that existed from the institution’s founding in 1636. Facing a Supreme Court ruling in the near future that could upend affirmative action, Seth, who argued Harvard’s case before the nine justices, explained the best-case and worst-case scenarios and what they might mean for Harvard’s admission process. “Panel discussions like these are a small but important step toward racial reconciliation because only by listening to each other and learning from each other can we ever get to know each other,” said Sylvester afterward.

    Then it was on to the Yard, where we assembled outside University Hall and joined the Alumni Day procession, a joyful and mercifully short stroll in the heat to our seats of honor in front of Memorial Church. There we heard speeches, including the final public remarks by outgoing president Larry Bacow and an excellent oration by NPR’s Mary Louise Kelley ’93 on the primacy of reporting in journalism.

    And then…it was all over but the shoutin’. Farewells were exchanged, as well as many a “See you on Facebook.” Anyone who attended every event will receive the Croix de Réunion, awarded by the French government. Félicitations!!

    A rumor swept the gathering that after the 50th there would be no more five-year reunions. Taking Mary Louise Kelley’s words to heart, we checked and found that this was not true. The 55th reunion will take place as scheduled in 2028. Optimistically we say: See you there! But first it’s time for a nap.

  • May 16, 2023 9:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Jim Harbison ‘73 

    North Carolina is a battleground state, with the political affiliations of voters split roughly equally among Democrats, Republicans, and non-affiliated voters.  Democrats held a slight lead in voter affiliation as recently as 2020.   Despite this political alignment, Republican lawmakers were able to draw gerrymandered voting maps after the 2010 census, and they obtained a disproportionate number of seats in and control of the state legislature and its Congressional delegation. They did so again after the 2020 census.

    Advocacy groups challenged those 2021 redistricting plans as partisan gerrymandering that violated North Carolina’s Constitution. In February 2022, the North Carolina State Supreme Court, then with a 4-3 Democratic majority, rejected the maps and mandated a fairer, court-drawn interim map for the November 2022 elections.  However, after Republican judges were elected to the Supreme Court from newly drawn districts to constitute a 5-2 Republican majority following the 2022 partisan judicial elections, the Court agreed to rehear the case.

    On April 28, 2023, the new majority reversed the Court’s earlier decision, ruling that courts have no jurisdiction over such redistricting disputes.  The new majority remanded the case to give the General Assembly the opportunity to enact new redistricting plans, “guided by federal law and the objective constraints in the state constitution.”  The decision opens the door for passage of gerrymandered maps in North Carolina, which would remain in effect until the next census in 2030 (See here).

    In another blow to voting rights, on April 28, 2023, the State Supreme Court overruled a lower court decision that had invalidated a law disenfranchising individuals who were on felony probation, parole, or post-release supervision. The lower court had ruled that the law violated the North Carolina Constitution because it discriminated against Black voters and denied people the right to vote. As a result, disenfranchisement of felons who have been released from prison remains in place in North Carolina.

    Both the NC House and Senate had Democratic majorities from 1999 to 2010, but that switched  in 2011, after the Republicans successfully gerrymandered districts in the state (See here) as part of the Republican Party’s country-wide REDMAP project.  The state House and Senate have remained under Republican control ever since.  What has helped keep balance in the government from a political point of view is that Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has served as Governor since 2017.

    That balance is now threatened because a Democratic state representative, Tricia Cotham, switched to the Republican party in April. Republicans now have a veto-proof supermajority in the state House as well as in the state Senate, which enables the legislature to override any veto by the Governor.  A sign of what may come is legislation relaxing gun law requirements, which passed through a veto override in March.

    A bill limiting the governor’s appointment powers is likely to become law as well because of the new supermajority. And on May 4, 2023 the legislature passed a bill that would ban most abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy from its current 20-week period, setting the stage for a test of the Republican Party’s new, but slim, supermajority.

    With their supermajorities, Republican legislators have also begun assembling and enacting bills that would limit or suppress voting access.  The legislature has already passed funding for a Voter ID law; such measures may, and often do, disproportionately affect Black and younger voters.  Although the prior Democratic majority on the Supreme Court rejected that law as discriminatory, the new Supreme Court Republican majority reversed the previous decision.

    Among the bills under consideration is a proposal to scale back absentee voting (Senate Bill 88/House Bill 304) with a floor vote likely to be scheduled in the near future.  The bill would allow absentee ballots to be counted only if received by 5 p.m. on election day.  Under current law, ballots are counted if they are postmarked by election day and received within three days thereafter.

    The bill would also require voters to mail or deliver their absentee ballots in person to the county board of elections office and would prohibit the use of one-stop voting sites for ballot drop-offs.  These provisions could impose onerous burdens on many voters who are homebound, have physical limitations, inflexible work schedules, pressing familial obligations, and/or lack the ability or means to travel to their county board of elections office.  Such concerns led Governor Cooper to veto a similar bill in 2021. The fate of this current bill will most likely be different because of the legislative supermajority’s ability to override such a veto.                 

    For those of you who live in North Carolina, write or otherwise contact your representatives to let your concerns be known.  You can also express your views on this and a series of other proposed voter suppression bills under consideration on the website of Democracy North Carolina.

    In addition, we can all help voters or prospective voters by volunteering for or donating to organizations that provide guidance on registration as well as other voting information and assistance to residents in North Carolina.  Such organizations include VoteRiders, a 501(c)(3) entity helping North Carolina residents deal with voter ID laws and exercise their right to vote, and the League of Women Voters of North Carolina.  We need to be vigilant and work together to protect the right to vote in North Carolina.

  • April 19, 2023 4:12 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Marilyn Go, Jim Harbison and Ryan O’Connell

    We highlight below the results of two elections that we have mentioned in the past few months as presenting opportunities to volunteer to promote voter engagement.


    Judicial elections in the United States rarely garner much interest. However, the special election for Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice held on April 4, 2023 was closely followed by political pundits, politicians and voters nationwide. Although this was ostensibly a non‐partisan election, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will be evenly split between liberals and conservatives 3 to 3 after the retirement of conservative Justice Patience Roggensack.

    The result: Janet Protasiewicz, described as a liberal County Circuit judge from Milwaukee, defeated her conservative challenger, Daniel Kelly, by almost 11 percentage points (54.5 to 44.5 percent). Kelly, a former prosecutor, had previously been appointed by Governor Scott Walker to the Wisconsin Supreme Court to serve the remainder of a ten-year term of another judge. However, he did not win re‐election in 2020.

    Political commentators have opined that this election may be a bellwether for the 2024 presidential election, because Wisconsin is a battleground state and because voters have increasingly viewed judicial elections through a more partisan lens. President Biden won the Wisconsin vote over former President Trump by only a 0.63 percent margin, far less than predicted, while Trump carried the state in 2016 by 0.77 percent over Hillary Clinton.

    The importance of this election is perhaps best reflected by the stunning amount of money raised and the voter turnout. The two candidates combined spent about $45 million. That amount was almost triple the previous $15.2 million record spent for a judicial election, in a race for the Illinois Supreme Court. Significantly, more than 1.7 million Wisconsin voters cast their ballots, surpassing the 1.6 million citizens participating in the 2020 Presidential election.

    The change in the make-up of the Supreme Court may have an impact on a number of significant issues that are currently or will be brought before it. These issues include abortion rights, voting access, redistricting, and legislation enacted by Gov. Walker effectively eliminating collective bargaining for most public employees.

    The right to an abortion was a major point of contention in the election. Protasiewicz and Kelly took conflicting positions on Wisconsin's 1849 law banning abortions, which was automatically reinstated after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. That law permits abortions to save a mother’s life, but does not allow exceptions for rape or incest.

    The redistricting maps drawn by the Republican legislature have also been challenged. Wisconsin is a “purple state,” with voters evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. However, the state electoral districts drawn have been described as “among the most gerrymandered in the nation, a result of aggressive cartography from the Republican majority elected in 2010,” which, despite “a Democratic sweep of statewide elections,” enabled Republicans to retain a 19-to-14 majority in the State Senate and 63-to-36 majority in the Assembly. ( Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Sides With Republicans in Case on Wisconsin Redistricting.” New York Times. 23 March 2022.) Republicans also hold six of the eight Wisconsin seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Republican State Senator Dan Knodl, who also was elected on April 4, indicated before his election that he was open to impeachment of Protasiewicz. With Knodl’s election as State Senator, Republicans now have a super-majority in the State Senate. (Roche, Darragh. “Janet Protasiewicz May Be Impeached by GOP After Wisconsin Election Win.” Newsweek. 5 April 2023.)


    Democrat Jennifer McClellan won the special election on February 21, 2023 for Virginia’s 4th Congressional District. She will succeed the late U.S. Rep. A. Donald McEachin, who died in November at age 61 after winning reelection. McClellan, a state senator, is the first Black woman to represent the Commonwealth of Virginia in Congress and will serve the remainder of Rep. McEachin’s fourth term.

    Latinos Still Lean Heavily Democratic

    By J. Ryan O’Connell ‘73

    Hispanic Americans overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party rather than the Republican Party. Sixty percent of Latinos say the Democrats “represent them well”, compared to 34 percent for Republicans. That split is consistent among age groups, education levels and gender (but not all groups of national origin).

    Furthermore, the Republican Party has a serious image problem with Hispanics, with two-thirds saying the Republican Party “does not really care” about them. The numbers cited here are drawn from Most Latinos Say Democrats Care About Them, Pew Research Center, Sep. 29, 2022.

    However, the Democratic Party cannot take Latinos’ support for granted. A third of Hispanics think the Democrats do not represent their interests well. And close to 50 percent don’t see much difference between the two parties. Nonetheless, although former President Donald Trump won a larger share of the Hispanic vote in 2020 than in 2016, the talk about a big shift of Hispanics to the Republican Party in the 2022 midterms appears to be hype.

    Latinos are attracted to the Democrats because of the party’s more liberal approach toward immigration, of course. But most Hispanics also share Democratic positions on key cultural issues such as abortion and gun control.

    Almost 60 percent of Latinos say abortion should be legal in some cases, which is close to overall public opinion in the U.S; 40 percent oppose it. That 60/40 split holds true for Hispanic Catholics, who represent almost half of Latinos. Not surprisingly, 70 percent of Hispanic evangelicals oppose abortion rights. However, evangelicals constitute only 15 percent of Latinos.

    Hispanics firmly oppose the expansion of gun rights. This is not a group that on the whole supports permitless carry or eliminating background checks. A striking 73 percent of Latinos want more stringent gun controls, while only 26 percent favor greater gun rights. This is in sharp contrast with the overall public, which is divided roughly 50/50 on this issue.

    Cubans are a distinct political group among Latinos. About 60 percent lean Republican, probably because many families suffered under the Communist regime in Cuba (Most Cuban American voters identified as Republican in 2020, Pew Research Center, Oct. 2, 2020). The Cubans are concentrated in Florida, where they are very influential politically. They hold conservative views and abhor anything labeled “socialism.”

    Still, Cubans represent only five percent of Hispanics in the United States. Mexican-Americans, the dominant group, are 56 percent of Latinos. In the 2022 midterms, they preferred Democratic candidates over Republican by 58 to 25 percent. Puerto Ricans are the next largest, at 14 percent. Dominicans, Salvadorans, and other national-origin groups represent less than five percent of Hispanics.

    About half of Latinos say it is very important to establish a way for most immigrants who currently live in the United States illegally to stay here legally. However, 42% think that increasing border security is also very important. Sixty percent of Cubans give priority to increasing border security rather than finding a pathway to legal status for current illegal immigrants.

  • February 15, 2023 6:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Jacki Swearingen '73

    From an early age Richard Golob ’73 felt a connection to the United Nations, housed in the magnificent steel and glass building that his mother took him frequently to visit from their home in the Bronx. Later, when his family moved to Scarsdale, she founded the local United Nations club and brought speakers on international affairs to talk to Golob and his friends. Then there was the fact that his father bore an uncanny resemblance to Dag Hammarskjold, the UN’s second Secretary General.

    “So every morning the Secretary General would be telling me to brush my teeth properly,” Golob recalled in a recent interview for the ClassACT HR73 bulletin. “That kind of got me interested in the UN at an early age. As a person I’ve always been interested in promoting diversity and equality and tolerance as well as peace and freedom.” he added.

    Those early influences have led Golob to a lifelong commitment to advancing the work of the 77-year-old multinational organization charged with helping to keep the peace, aiding refugees in far-flung conflict zones, and pushing to avert climate disaster. Over several decades Golob has focused his support of the UN on helping to lead the United Nations Association of Greater Boston (UNAGB), a nonprofit dedicated to educating, inspiring and engaging students and adult members of the Boston community around issues critical to the mission of the United Nations. Golob served as its president from 2006 to 2017 and currently is a board member of UNAGB, one of ClassACT HR73’s oldest Bridges.

    “At UNAGB we understand that in order to solve those global issues, you need to take action at the local level,” Golob said. The UNAGB brings the global and the local together through programs that aim to educate Boston students as well as through partnerships with local non- profits. UNAGB also “has the potential over time using digital technology to reach out to more and more people outside of the Boston area,” Golob said.

    Creating “global citizens” both young and old is at the heart of UNAGB’s mission. “It means a person who is dedicated to promoting a sustainable, just and peaceful world,” Golob explained. A global citizen has “the skills of mutual respect and collaboration and nonviolent, peaceful conflict resolution.” UNAGB promotes those qualities through community events such as the U.N. Perspective Series, the Global Women’s Forum, and the UN Day Luncheon.

    U.S. Secretary of Labor and Former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Ban Ki-Moon, and Model UN Students in Boston

    Ted Turner, the founder of CNN and the UN Foundation; Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Ban Ki-moon, the former UN Secretary General have all spoken at past UNAGB gatherings.

    Ban Ki-Moon and Richard Golob '73

    UNAGB begins nurturing global citizenship in students as young as middle school with its Model United Nations program. More than 4,000 students in more than 75 schools throughout the Boston area participate each year in ways such as using UNAGB curricula in their classrooms to learn about international affairs and UN activities. Those who aspire to take part in UNAGB’s annual Model UN Conferences can go on to become delegates from assigned Countries. They have the chance to master knowledge about their nation’s history and current involvement with the United Nations, which they can draw upon when they meet with students representing other countries at the Model UN Conference in the spring.

    Richard Golob '73 and Lucia Lovison-Golob

    “The Model UN program is especially important in building communications, collaboration, negotiation, critical thinking skills and [the ability] to resolve issues the peaceful, nonviolent way,” Golob said. At a time when intolerance and bullying have become entrenched in schools, role playing as diplomats required to hit on a compromise that satisfies all parties is an exercise that helps to overcome cruelty and prejudice. Students quickly discover that intimidation and name-calling have no place in a community patterned after the best qualities and aspirations of the United Nations.

    In 2021 students from 84 schools took part in conferences that led up to the UNAGB Model United Nations that fall. To assume the role of diplomats, they researched the background of their assigned country and then determined the positions that country would take in the Model United Nations and committee debates. They began learning to let go of their personal biases and instead to adopt the viewpoints of the countries they represented. Marshaling those insights, they then had to work out compromises with other student diplomats who were also trying to act for the countries UNAGB assigned them.

    “It’s very much an opportunity for young people to take on the perspectives outside their box,” said Golob. “And to think in ways that they might not normally think and understand the perspectives of people that they might not normally interact with. I’;s a great way to build a sense of understanding about the global community, about the differences that separate us and the ways in which we have to work together as a planet.”

    Since the start of the Model UN program, UNAGB has striven to include students in Boston’s urban middle schools and high schools. “It has been a great way to lift the horizons of these young people beyond their local areas and to make them understand that there’s a big world out there,” Golob said. A number of those graduates have gone on to careers in international organizations.

    Each year at the Harvard Business School and the MIT Sloan School of Management, the United Nations Association of Greater Boston holds multiple sessions of the Summer Institute in Global Leadership. Students from around the world enroll in courses taught by UNAGB staff and college interns on topics such as climate resilience, human rights and international security. By employing the Model UN methods of role playing and consensus building, the institute instructors teach leadership skills, critical thinking and an understanding of key global challenges. UNAGB adult members– experts in fields such as global health, and diplomats from the Boston Consular Corps–come to speak about their experiences in international agencies, NGOs and diplomacy. While the tuition for these week-long sessions provides funds to sustain UNAGB’s activities throughout the year, the nonprofit is still able to offer scholarships to young people who could not afford to attend without financial aid.

    Since the establishment of the United Nations in October 1945, United Nations associations like the one Golob’s mother founded in Scarsdale have taken root around the world. The United Nations Association of Greater Boston, which has existed for more than sixty years, has emerged as one of the leading chapters not only because of its Model UN programs but also because of its educational outreach to the larger Boston community. Originally centered around the interests of a founding group of former diplomats, professors and experts who had spent their careers in multinational organizations, the UNAGB over the years has broadened its focus and adapted to the changing concerns of the United Nations. In the UNAGB’s infancy those preoccupations mirrored the fears and strategies of the Cold War. Now the United Nations member states must deal not only with a war in Ukraine but also with a planet facing the existential crisis of climate change.

    When all the United Nation member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, the UNAGB set out to educate a wide audience through their UN Perspective series. Over the last year experts from MIT, Oxfam, and the government of Uganda have joined Perspective Series discussions about Affordable Energy, Gender Equality, and Clean Water and Sanitation. When the UNAGB was forced to move educational efforts online during the COVID pandemic, the recorded forums began to reach a worldwide audience.

    To give this audience an understanding of current conditions and positive actions not only globally but also locally, UNAGB now offers a “SDG Action Corner” to measure Boston’s progress toward achieving those goals. For each of the 17 SDGs, the website lists local non-profits with volunteer opportunities and tracks legislative actions on a state and national level.

    Boston experts in epidemiology and public health have volunteered to educate the UNAGB audience about Sustainability Development Goals like “Good Health and Well Being.” In 2007 UNAGB presented a Leadership Award to Dr. Barry R. Bloom, the former dean of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, who has worked for decades with the World Health Organization on fighting diseases like leprosy and tuberculosis. “We’ve had many people who have held prominent roles in the WHO and other international agencies, and so in that sense, the Boston community has been very much connected to the UN through its specialized agencies,” Golob explained.

    Now following the lead of the United Nations, the UNAGB is reaching out to Boston business leaders to help realize these Sustainable Development Goals. In recent years the United Nations has devised compacts for corporations based on the realization that sustainability challenges will be solved only by involving the business community. In a similar spirit, the UNAGB tries to make Boston corporations aware of climate and sustainability crises along with UN efforts. “Hopefully through relationships with us, people within those corporations become more sensitized” and more willing to implement social governance programs, Golob said.

    Richard Golob has worked for decades in the private sector to bring innovations in data sciences and digital transformation to the healthcare and life-sciences sectors. He is currently co founder and CEO of Quantori, a Cambridge-based digital services provider for the life-sciences sector and healthcare industries. The international security scenarios that UNAGB had long discussed took on added meaning last March when Russian forces invaded Ukraine. Quantori had its primary development centers in St. Petersburg and Voronezh, Russia where the company employed more than 600 software engineers and other professionals. “We had to do a major airlift of those people to Armenia and Georgia in order to continue working for our clients,” he said.

    “We had been operating in Russia for over 20 years and my partners and I, as well as others leading similar companies to ours, had basically helped to globalize the Russian software engineering industry and had brought all of these Russian software engineers and mathematicians and scientists into close contact with the West and with the great pharmaceutical companies and life-science companies. And then in one day Putin destroyed all of it,” he added.

    Early in his life Richard Golob wanted to be an explorer. By the time he arrived in Harvard Yard in 1969, he had set his sights on attaining a biochemistry degree. The times were turbulent, however, raising questions about peace and justice that persist today. He left Lowell House and Harvard during his junior year, returning six years later and graduating in 1978. Entering the nascent field of environmental services, he went on to work with United Nations agencies like the UN Environment Programme, the UN Disaster Relief Organization, and the International Maritime Organization. At the age of 50 Golob reinvented himself by entering the realm of software outsourcing and life science informatics and co-founded GGA Software Services, which was later acquired by EPAM Systems. Around that time as well a former member of the UN Disaster Relief Organization, also a Harvard alumnus, reached out to Golob and got him interested in joining the UNAGB.

    “All of these areas, environmental consulting and software outsourcing have involved international components and so my involvement with the United Nations Association of Greater Boston is in a sense an outgrowth of not only what my mother’s and father’s impact was on me, but also of my entire professional career too,” he concluded. In the years prior to joining UNAGB, Golob played a key role in many international projects, including the design and construction of the Holocaust Memorial Park in Puchovichi, Belarus; the implementation of a pilot rural electrification project outside Dhaka, Bangladesh which used biogas from cow dung as the energy source; and the preparation of an environmental damage claim for the government of Mozambique following a tanker spill off the Mozambican coast.

    Last year the UNAGB secured a space at MIT’s Sloan School with the aid of faculty member and ClassACT HR73 board member Leigh Hafrey. The UNAGB Bridge is now eager for more involvement with ClassACT members who might, for example, speak at events like the Perspective Series. Those classmates who are academics, retired public servants, and business people can serve as a great resource, Golob said, particularly those who can help to educate the wider community about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Participating in UNAGB activities like the upcoming International Women’s Day Forum “Bridging the Digital Gender Divide” on March 7th can also help ClassACT members connect with UNAGB’s initiatives. Classmates with ties to schools can recommend the Model UN program to them, while classmates with grandchildren in middle school or high school can encourage them to participate in UNAGB’s Summer Institute in Global Leadership to learn how to become global citizens. Finally, ClassACT HR73 members can donate to the United Nations Association of Greater Boston to support the organization’s mission and work. 

    Golob’s work with the UNAGB has only deepened his admiration for an organization whose austere and elegant building mesmerized a small boy from the Bronx. “I’m a big believer in the United Nations. I think it’s in an institution that if it did not exist, it would have to be created,” he said, acknowledging that issues at the Security Council and General Assembly level still have to be resolved. But even with its challenges, the United Nations gives him hope for the future.

    “For the members of our class growing up, we were all part of the peace, love and happiness generation. And if we think about an international institution that promotes those ideals, I cannot think of one other than the United Nations that does it better.”

  • January 17, 2023 4:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Jacki Swearingen '73

    As Russian air strikes rain down on Ukrainian civilian targets such as hospitals and power stations, the need for food, medical supplies and warm clothing grows desperate during the coldest days of winter. Even as Ukrainian soldiers continue to take back territory in the east, the nation’s citizens still huddle in bombed-out apartments enduring darkness and freezing temperatures.

    Relief for Ukraine continues to flow from White Pony Express, the Contra Costa, Ca. non-profit and ClassACT Bridge that began to send supplies last year in the early days of the war. The charity is readying about 15 pallets of bandages, warm coats and boots, and shelf- stable nutritious food to send off in the next few months, said Eve Birge, WPE’s Executive Director.

    WPE’s commitment has been constant despite a drop in donations as the war drags on. “Fewer Americans are stepping up to contribute to White Pony Express and other non-profits that are sending aid to Ukraine,” Birge said. “People are still left to struggle. They are still left in this same situation they were in before all of the aid started receding.”

    With the direct route into Ukraine’s cities that WPE has established with the help of Olexiy Buyadgie, a Ukrainian-American WPE volunteer, the non-profit has managed to send around 75 pallets to the war-torn country since March 2022. The donations, which initially arrived in Lviv, have then been sent to civilians and soldiers in the Ukrainian cities that dominate the nightly news such as Donetsk, Dnipro, Kherson and Kharkiv. This latest shipment is set to arrive when food insecurity is likely to be at its worst, said Birge.

    Donations to White Pony Express can be earmarked for Ukraine by using this link.

    Contributors can also purchase essential food items on Amazon through a designated Smiles page that lists the items White Pony Express needs. Those items will be sent directly to WPE’s warehouses in Contra Costa where volunteers will load the pallets that will then be shipped to Ukraine.

    White Pony Express, which was founded in 2013 to rescue food discarded by stores and restaurants and to share it with those in need, also draws from the donations of clothing, shoes, and other goods they receive from stores and manufacturers to choose items to send to Ukraine. A recent contribution of seven pallets of shoes from the non-profit My New Red Shoes means that WPE can send three of those pallets off to Ukraine with their next shipment to Lviv. The shelf- stable food they receive from other large corporate donors goes to Ukrainians as well as the residents of Contra Costa County.

    In recent months the needs of those with inadequate food and housing in Contra Costa have swelled as well. “Right now with the weather in California, the extreme cold and the extreme wet, the last month has been very focused on provisions to the unhoused,” Birge said. White Pony Express has given out thousands of sleeping bags, ponchos, tarps, coats and boots.

    WPE volunteer and ClassACTHR73 member Emily Karakashian ’73 said that the annual cold- weather clothing program has had to grow this year to meet the demands created by unprecedented weather in northern California. “Even before the rain started, it was cold in a way that we just normally don’t see, and then it was followed by the rain.”

    While the generosity of White Pony Express stretches as far as eastern Ukraine, the focus of this Bridge remains trying to eliminate hunger in Contra Costa County. The charity, which is poised in the next few months to move to larger headquarters in the center of the county, continues to expand its core efforts to retrieve food that otherwise might go into landfills and then to give it to food banks, charities and individuals who are hungry. “We waste 40 percent of our food, and one third of that could wipe out hunger,” Birge said.

    Representatives from across the hemisphere have recently been visiting White Pony Express to learn how its model works in the hopes of exporting it to their own countries. Last year White Pony Express helped a group in the Mexican city of Monterrey develop a model very similar to WPE, and Birge and other staffers plan to go to Mexico City this year to promote the model. On January 13 representatives from the Guatemalan Consulate in San Francisco braved the rain to come to WPE to witness its successes. “They talked about how in their country food insecurity is such an issue, and that so many people are coming to the U.S,” Birge said. The WPE model of combating food scarcity might not only persuade some citizens to remain, but it would also help Guatemalan large businesses become more environmentally responsible by not discarding usable food.

    Eve Birge, Emily Karakashian and the other members of White Pony Express hope to share the non-profits model with citizens across the United States as well. ClassACT HR73 members interested in bringing this food rescue model to their own communities should contact Eve at Everyone can donate to White Pony Express here. ClassACT HR73 members who live in the Bay Area are also welcome to join as volunteers.

  • January 17, 2023 3:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Jacki Swearingen

    In 1938 as civil war raged in Spain and Americans struggled through the Depression, 268 Harvard sophomores began to enroll in a longitudinal study that would eventually follow them to old age and death. Throughout the decades –when they returned from the battlefields of World War II, when they settled into careers and marriages, when their children left home, and when they finally retired – these men continued to send completed questionnaires back to the Harvard researchers. Eighty-five years later their collected responses, along with those of nearly 500 inner-city Boston youths, their spouses and their children, have become key to helping us understand what shapes a life of well-being and purpose.

    “Well-being is the bedrock of ‘okayness’ about life, and we see in studying all these lives that relationships build that kind of safety net, that kind of foundation that gets us through all kinds of hard times as well as provides us with fun and joy,’’ said psychiatrist Dr. Robert Waldinger ’73, the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development and co-author of the new book The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness.  

    “You can do a lot to strengthen relationships, to create new ones, to heal relationships where there is difficulty. All of that is possible,” he added during a recent interview for ClassACT HR’73’s newsletter. Dr. Waldinger is also a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and Director of the Center for Psychodynamic Therapy and Research at Massachusetts General Hospital.

    By giving readers glimpses into the lives of this Harvard cohort, Dr. Waldinger and Dr. Marc Schulz, the Harvard Study’s associate director, depict the value of relationships for promoting not only contentment but also physical health. Even in old age, when health issues often constrain lives, the power to work on relationships can make pain, stress and other setbacks more bearable. Those study participants who were in satisfying relationships reported fewer declines in mood on even their worst days of pain compared to their more isolated counterparts.

    In the eight-decade long study, the researchers found that “frequency and quality of contact with other people are two predictors of happiness.” Nurturing bonds with friends and family members despite the demands of work and unforeseen tragedies mattered more than accomplishments or wealth. The ability to hold on to old friends while making new ones in workplaces, houses of worship, or community groups such as bowling leagues also contributed significantly to happiness. Finding ways to help those we care about and sustaining “deep curiosity” about their lives can end up enhancing our own happiness as well.

    One of the original study’s 268 nineteen-year-olds was Ben Bradlee, the great Washington Post editor of Watergate fame. He wrote of his introduction to what was then called the “Grant Study of Adult Development” in the opening pages of his 1995 autobiography A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures. “The study proposed to investigate ‘normal’ young men, whatever that might mean, at a time when most research was devoted to the abnormal. Dr. Arlie Bock, the first Grant Study director, was convinced that ‘some people coped more successfully than others,’ and the study intended to search for the factors which led to ‘intelligent living.’ “

    As time went on Dr. Bock’s successors at the Harvard Study of Adult Development looked for ways to expand their subject pool to include people beyond the narrow sample of privileged young men. In the 1970s the third director, Dr. George Vaillant ’55, brought in 456 participants who were part of a 1940-1945 study of boys aged 10 to 14 from some of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. That study had been launched by Harvard Law School professor Sheldon Glueck and his wife Eleanor Glueck, a social worker. “They were interested in juvenile delinquency, and particularly why some children from really disadvantaged homes managed to stay on good developmental paths and did not become juvenile delinquents,” Dr. Waldinger said, adding that the teens were chosen from homes known to an average of five social service agencies for major familial and social problems.

    While that addition allowed the Adult Development Study to expand its socio-economic perimeters, the project still failed to include women or people of color. Twenty years ago Dr. Waldinger brought in the wives of the male participants and more than 1300 of their children to bring the total to more than 2,000, over half of whom are women. Yet because the city of Boston was 78 percent white in 1938, the study still has little racial diversity despite the addition of the immediate family members of the original 724 men. “What that means is that we have a study of Caucasian families. And that’s not what diversity looks like in 2022 in the United States,” Dr Waldinger said.

    When the study began in 1938, few Americans identified openly as gay. The participants in both the Grant study and the Glueck study reflected that reluctance to speak publicly. “Most people who were gay got into heterosexual marriages, and many of those marriages fell apart. Some of them did not.” Dr. Waldinger said. Over time a few people came out to the researchers, and some even settled into rewarding partnerships. Nonetheless, some of the original group’s baby boomer children have also been reluctant to be open about being gay. “We know there are many, many gay people who have never come out, even to us,” he added.

    “Peggy Keane,” the daughter of one of the members of the Glueck study, recounted the anguish she felt as a young woman who knew she was gay but still married “one of the nicest men on the planet.” Divorced not long after the wedding, she agonized over the pain she had caused her former husband and her devout Catholic parents “for not figuring out sooner who I was.” But at 29 “Peggy” found a partner whom she loved, and she eventually resumed the close relationship she had with her parents, who came to accept her for who she was. Her capacity to weather personal crises by creating new attachments and renewing old ones helped her become the happy 57-year-old woman she is today, according to Dr. Waldinger.

    Like all the participants whose stories Dr. Waldinger tells, Peggy’s name and distinguishing details have been changed to protect her identity. “We pledge confidentiality to everyone who participates in our study,” he said. “Some of these people have told us things they have not told anyone else.” Those practices have established bonds of trust that have helped to make the Harvard Study of Adult Development the world’s longest in-depth longitudinal study of human lives. Less than 20 percent of the study’s subjects have dropped out over its 85- year existence. While most of the 724 men from the original two studies have died, Dr. Waldinger estimates about 40 still survive.

    Chapters from the lives of participants like Peggy underscore Dr. Waldinger’s conviction that no life is without challenges and difficult passages. For the adolescents of the Glueck study who endured poverty and dysfunctional families, finding work that let them build sustainable lives as well as creating stable families of their own were particularly hard journeys. Yet some, like Peggy’s father “Henry Keane,” who overcame the abuse of an alcoholic father and the vicissitudes of the Detroit auto industry, found well-being in their later years through the relationships they had nurtured. Again and again Henry would return his questionnaire with answers indicating that he was “happy” or “very happy” even though he never accrued wealth or fame. He had made what the authors of The Good Life call the single best choice for securing health and happiness: He had cultivated warm relationships with his family and friends despite the sufferings of his childhood and his own shyness.

    Some of the saddest stories in The Good Life are those of the Harvard graduates who began their adult life in postwar America with much greater advantages than Henry. Yet failure to establish and to develop relationships often meant that the questionnaires they returned revealed the loneliness of their lives. “John Marsden,” a lawyer who was among the most successful of the Harvard cohort, too often let his preoccupation with himself get in the way of building the strong relationships with his wives and his children that he so desperately wanted. “He loved his family, but he consistently reported feelings of disconnection and sadness throughout his life. He struggled in his first marriage and alienated his children,” the authors wrote.

    One of the biggest challenges many participants from Harvard College faced was coming to terms with their combat experiences in the battles of World War II. In 1948 the Adult Development Study researchers sent them a letter asking questions such as “Did you see combat? Did you ever see anyone killed? Did you kill anyone?” The researchers were trying to understand what is now called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, though PTSD had not yet been defined. They wanted to understand why some members struggled with depression while others seemed able to transfer the leadership skills they acquired in war to peacetime endeavors.

    Those who had good relationships with their fellow officers and soldiers, and who could talk about shared traumas with them fared better, Dr. Waldinger said. Those who had warm family relationships before they went to war also were less likely to develop PTSD.

    Among the Harvard subjects who survived enemy attacks was a young lieutenant from Boston, John F. Kennedy, who won the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and a Purple Heart for rescuing his surviving crew members after their patrol vessel PT-109 collided with a Japanese destroyer in the Pacific. When Kennedy decided to run for a Senate seat in 1952, his campaign requested his Harvard Study records, which now reside in the Kennedy Library. In 2009 his participation was made known when a writer for The Atlantic Monthly found evidence of those records in the presidential library’s archives.

    Other challenges like divorce, the illness of a child, or the death of a spouse, would await these young men from Harvard and inner-city Boston as they moved through the Cold War and the cultural transformations of the sixties and seventies. What helped many who reported the greatest well-being was having a person in their childhood who had steadily loved them and cared for them. “One of the things the study has really shown is that childhood matters a lot,” Dr. Waldinger said. “People who have warm childhoods can grow up quite poor and disadvantaged, but have a very solid foundation of well-being from warm, consistent relationships. You can be the most privileged person in the world and be quite starved for warmth and solid relationships.”

    Without those stable, warm relationships in childhood, an adult from any socio-economic background will have difficulty making stable connections, he added. Indeed, one of the most poignant examples is “Sterling Ainsley,” a Harvard graduate who served in the Navy, married, and had three children he claimed to love. After achieving success in metals manufacturing out in Montana, he retired to live alone in a small trailer on a barren lot near Butte. He was separated from his wife and rarely spoke to or visited his children. A torturous childhood that had included his mother’s commitment to a mental asylum and separation from a beloved older sister left Sterling unable to form the bonds so essential to well-being, the authors concluded.

    Investing in causes beyond the self, in pursuits that attempt to make the world or even a small community better also contribute to a good life, according to Dr. Waldinger. “They make people feel like their lives are more meaningful than the people who are just buying their third vacation home and their latest sports car and all that.” For one of the Harvard subjects “Leo DeMarco,” that sense of meaning came from his job in Vermont as a high school English teacher who mentored young people. Others from both the Grant and the Glueck studies found purpose and joy in passing on wisdom and skills to their grandchildren.

    Every two years the participants completed the questionnaires that asked them about key aspects of their lives such as mental health, physical health, their friendships and their intimate relationships. They were queried on their work satisfaction, on their promotions and their salaries. A number of items on the forms required them to assess their level of happiness. These inquiries would intensify every ten years when the Adult Study sent interviewers to visit the men and their families in their homes. At a time when an unexamined life was the norm for American men, these participants found themselves regularly reflecting on their relationships and their happiness. While some grumbled, others thanked the researchers verbally and in letters for providing them with a way to keep returning to their lives.

    “Some people said ‘Your questions are just a nuisance,’ but many people said ‘This was one of the most important things I’ve done in my life because it got me to reflect regularly on my life, on where I’m going, on what’s important to me,’” said Dr. Waldinger. “Just by asking the questions and asking them to write down responses, we’re sure we affected the people we were studying.”

    That attention and willingness to change attitudes and actions is key to finding and building relationships, Dr. Waldinger said. He and Schulz have taken the broader findings from the Adult Study and distilled them into practical advice about improving specific relationships with partners, family members, work colleagues and friends. One exercise they recommend is the W.I.S.E.R. model for reacting to emotionally challenging situations and events in relationships. Readers are advised not to act impulsively, but instead to Watch, Interpret, Select, Engage, and Reflect, a process that can end up bolstering valuable ties.

    The benefit of bringing renewed attention to complex relationships may not only be the kindness we show toward someone we care about, but may also be our own enhanced happiness. “Friendships are constantly changing, so the relationship needs to change,” Dr. Waldinger explained. “The importance of friendship is in how much benefit it conveys for our emotional and physical well-being.”

    The years Dr. Waldinger has spent directing the Adult Study have inspired him to scrutinize his own relationships to determine how to strengthen them. After his two sons grew up and left the home he shares with his wife, Jennifer, in Newton, Massachusetts, he found himself working “all the time” on tasks like editing academic papers. “What I realized was that I really needed to pay more attention to my relationships, to my friendships,” he said. He developed new habits like making time for walks with friends during the pandemic or texting them to say, “I miss you. Can we get together?” These conscious efforts fortify what he and Schulz call “social fitness.”

    Paying attention to relationships by prioritizing them and devoting time to them is a key component of that social fitness, the authors stress. Integral to that focus is the concept of “mindfulness,” which calls for us to be present in the moment and abstain from judgment, a concept defined by Buddhist teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn, whom the authors quote. Kabat-Zinn’s words have particular resonance for Dr. Waldinger, who is a Zen teacher and ordained Soto Zen priest at the Henry David Thoreau Sangha in Newton, Ma. While Zen’s texts and rituals such as lighting incense may date back to feudal Japan, they still provide a way to “pay attention to the present moment,” according to Dr. Waldinger. “My experience of Zen is that warmth is just part of the human condition when we’re lucky enough to have it and that we can spread it and pass it on or not.”

    Dr. Waldinger remembers his own parents as “very warm people who came from immigrant families that were pretty poor.” His father had a gift for taking an interest in the lives of others, a quality that helps in connecting to friends and strangers alike. His mother regularly took the time to sit down in the kitchen of their Des Moines home to talk with her young son while scooping ice cream for him. “I had a pretty consistent and, as my kids would say, a pretty boring childhood,” Dr. Waldinger laughed.

    For an Iowa freshman who arrived in Harvard Yard in 1969, the Zen meditation practices and rigorous psychoanalytic training that would define his later life were still unknown. What marked that first year for him, as well as for many other freshmen, were feelings of aloneness and doubts about whether he belonged at Harvard. “I just felt really lonely, and actually I almost didn’t go back after my freshman year,” he said.

    By the end of his sophomore year Dr. Waldinger had found good friends in Adams House as well as a passion for acting in theatrical productions, which was stoked by Professor William Alfred’s Humanities 7 course on the American Theater. The plays of Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Eugene O’Neil enthralled him with their ability to capture family dynamics. “It’s no accident that I became a shrink,” he laughed.

    Concentrating in History and Science, Dr. Waldinger focused on “why people did things that look crazy. How do we understand what I think of as aberrant behavior?” He examined the fatal pull of witchcraft beliefs in Salem and wrote his senior thesis on medicine in Weimar Germany. That chance to think deeply as well as the growth of friendships that still endure today made that time one of purpose and joy. “I just felt more connected,” he said. “The last three years were three of the happiest years I can remember.”

    At Harvard Medical School Dr. Waldinger discovered that “listening to people talk about their delusional beliefs” interested him more than studying subjects like thyroid tumors. He went on to a psychiatric residency at Harvard’s McLean Hospital. Later at the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute his training focused on psychological development from infancy to adulthood, including how children connect to a caregiver. Dr. Waldinger brought questions about what creates secure attachments in later life to his research with the Adult Development Study.

    After more than two decades as director of that program, Dr. Waldinger hopes to emphasize that it is never too late to change a life by forming new attachments and strengthening old ones. The Good Life contains stories of people like Sterling Ainsley–who never overcame the emotional deprivation of their childhood–in order to portray the tragedy of stunted or withered relationships. But there are also narratives of those who, after a life of isolation, went on to discover the joys of friendship in old age. One subject, “Andrew Dearing,” a desperately lonely clock repairman in Boston, in his seventh decade helped create a close circle of friends among the people he met at his local gym.

    A 2015 TED talk that Dr. Waldinger gave at a Brookline, Ma. elementary school inspired him to include stories like Andrew’s in The Good Life. The message that building relationships is key to achieving a life of well-being went viral as his lecture became the ninth most watched TED Talk of all time. Shortly afterward Dr. Waldinger began receiving comments and e-mails from people, some in their twenties, saying “It’s too late for me. I don’t do relationships well. It’s never been good for me.”

    At any point we can reinvigorate our lives with friendship and meaningful encounters, Dr. Waldinger counters. One step toward that goal might involve becoming more “intentional” about our use of the screens that now shape our lives. “Do we have the kind of agency to make sure that we don’t get pulled into patterns of living that essentially isolate us more and more?” he asks. After spending too much time scrolling through other people’s social media feeds, we begin to think everyone is happier and leading a more exciting life than we are. We too often forget that social media allows us to “curate” our lives to reveal only the positive aspects and not the difficulties that everyone faces, he cautions.

    For those Class of 1973 graduates poised to return to Cambridge for their Fiftieth Reunion, Dr. Waldinger also suggests examining existing attachments and the content of one’s social life: “See where you could strengthen the relationships you already have, and also put yourself in situations where you are likely to make new relationships.” Find something you care about that puts you alongside people who share that interest or concern, he advises. Activities as varied as a bowling league or an environmental group focused on climate change can yield valuable friendships or connections that are simply fun.

    Finally, Dr. Waldinger suggests regularly taking a moment to remember a person who still matters but whom you have not contacted for a long time. Reach out to that person, call them, send them a text or email, and say “I miss you.” The response often astonishes the person who initiates the contact, he said. “You’d be surprised how often something positive comes back, how often people are thrilled to hear from us.”

    For those classmates who reflect on the relationships they have spun over fifty years and then act to fortify them in their remaining years, the rewards can be rich, Dr. Waldinger believes. The final page of his book reminds us that “by developing your curiosity and reaching out to others – family, loved ones, coworkers, friends, acquaintances, even strangers – with one thoughtful question at a time, one moment of devoted, authentic attention at a time, you strengthen the foundation of a good life.”

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