"Giving back" is an important activity for the vast majority of HBS alumni, and the Class of 1976 is no exception. Among the entities benefiting from the class's expertise and largesse is HBS itself. The following summary suggests the scope of the class's ongoing involvement with the School, an effort that is a microcosm of the broad participation of HBS alumni throughout society in general.

In the late 1970s, Mary Lindley Burton, a consultant in career strategy, was asked if she would help advise HBS graduates dealing with career transitions. Thus began an eighteen-year exercise in volunteer service at the HBS Club of Greater New York, where Burton and Dick Wedemeyer (MBA '63) would meet twice a month to assist alumni with job and career issues. "Often," recalls Burton, "these men and women were going through the trauma of downsizing and the realization that their HBS degree could not save them from the vicissitudes of the marketplace." (In Transition: From the HBS Club of New York's Career Management Seminar, a 1991 book written by Burton and Wedemeyer, is still a favorite among job changers.)

Burton, who is president of Burton Strategies in New York City, also served as correspondent for Section I for two years. Of her volunteer experience, she says, "It's a wonderful opportunity to be in touch with a broad cross section of HBS peers, at a stage when we're dealing with life on a much more substantive level than when we were students."

Another consultant and Class Secretary is Barbara Nadel Keck, president of Keck & Co. in Atherton, California, who has served two tours of duty as Class Notes scribe for Section B. In her columns, she reminds her classmates that they all have a story, even if they don't see themselves as "important." Similarly, Keck assures them that, whatever its scope or extent, volunteership is invaluable: "Contributing in small ways —talking to someone who may be applying to the School, for example, or providing a student with a summer internship —can really make a difference and be enjoyable at the same time." "The School has continued to play a role in my life, long after graduation," adds Keck. She cites in particular one of her former HBS professors who, after the birth of her first child, helped her return to the workforce. Her ongoing HBS involvement, she also notes, includes the three Executive Education courses she has taken.

Margie Yang, chairman of Esquel Group in Hong Kong, also cites lifelong learning as a rewarding aspect of her ongoing relationship with the School. "As I get more involved with HBS, I become more interested in the faculty's latest research in business management," Yang says. "The classroom sessions at the recent Executive Education program at China's Tsinghua University also really inspired me." Yang has contributed her expertise to HBS through involvement in the YPO/HBS Hong Kong program and the Global Alumni Conference in Hong Kong in 1997, and by serving on the Board of Directors of the Associates and assisting in the formation of the Asia-Pacific Research Center.

Indeed, HBS research centers around the world have benefited greatly from the involvement of Class of 1976 members. In Silicon Valley, while planning the California Research Center in the mid-1990s, HBS officials discovered that office space was a scarce commodity. Bob Zider, founder of the Beta Group in Menlo Park, stepped forward, offering to share his company's small suite of offices at 3000 Sand Hill Road, the Valley's premier business address.

At his 20th Reunion, Zider had reconnected with the School over its technology and entrepreneurship initiatives. "To the School's credit, they recognized that they had lagged in these areas, and Dean Clark was openly seeking new ideas," says Zider, whose own business experience has supplied material for two HBS case studies. "I've enjoyed the intellectual stimulation and personal interaction with great people that are hallmarks of working with HBS."

Another HBS off-campus research effort, the Latin America Research Center (LARC), which opened in 2000 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is headed by Gustavo Herrero. As an Ed Rep and a member of the Student Association, Herrero was impressed by what he saw of HBS as an institution. After graduation, he served as a president and board member of the HBS Club (later the Harvard Club) of Argentina. Following a long and successful career in the textile and paper and packaging industries in Argentina, Herrero, who became a board member of the HBS Alumni Association in 1999, was asked to lead the LARC. "The LARC," he says, "is a win-win for the School and the region —we are creating and sharing knowledge, not just extracting it."

Sandra Sucher is giving back to HBS by performing what many alumni consider the School's core activity: teaching. After ten years as an executive at Filene's and twelve at Fidelity Investments, Sucher joined the HBS faculty as a senior lecturer in the Technology and Operations Management unit in 1998. Sucher, who also serves on the board of the HBS Association Boston, says she considered teaching only at HBS: "An important draw for me was the ethical component that has the potential to inform everything at the School. I find that people have a hunger to talk about these things, and that's been very rewarding. I enjoy communicating with my students and having more time —but not as much as I'd like! —to read, think, and write."

While teaching may be the core activity at HBS, other basic needs must be met as well. As Napoléon once observed about armies, HBS students move on their stomachs, and these days, when they're hungry, they move to the dining hall in the Spangler Center. There, they partake of nourishment and conversation, elegantly seated in some of the 354 Chippendale-style walnut chairs created by Eustis Chair, owned and operated by Fred Eustis. The Massachusetts company makes chairs for the famous Stickley line, as well as by special order for universities and libraries. "I never thought I'd 'support' HBSers in this way —it's quite an honor," says Eustis with a smile. He has also served as the class's 15th Reunion chairman and as a committee member for the 20th and 25th Reunions.

Carley Cunniff and Deborah Farrington have worked together to make a distinctive contribution to the School. "We sensed that many HBS alumnae didn't feel involved with the School," explains Farrington, founder and cochair of StarVest Partners in New York City and a member of the HBS Alumni Association Board of Directors. "We wanted to excite our women classmates about reconnecting to the School and to each other." Their idea was the Women's Gift for the Class of 1976, a special pooled gift from all the women of the class to mark the 25th Reunion. It will support an existing initiative at the School that focuses on researching and writing cases that feature women in leadership roles. "The HBS degree helped give many women from our pioneering era credibility in the business world," adds Cunniff, a member of the HBS Visiting Committee and EVP at Ruane Cunniff & Co. in New York City. "I felt an obligation to give back to the School; the response to our appeal has been very gratifying."

Reunion gift chairman Gil Lamphere, managing director of Lamphere Capital Management in New York City, has maintained a commitment to HBS since graduation (or perhaps even earlier —by sixth grade, he says, he knew he wanted to attend HBS). Service on the Visiting Committee "gave me insight as to how HBS distinguishes itself and why financial resources are needed," says Lamphere, who for many years has been a dedicated fundraiser on behalf of the School. "The heart and soul of HBS is the faculty," he says, "and they must be constantly energized and supported. The other big part of the School, of course, is the students. Our 25th Reunion gift, The Class of 1976 Fellowship Fund, is designed to help deserving students with scholarship assistance."

Far from being a thankless task, Lamphere says, "Fundraising is a great privilege. It usually translates into a heartfelt, intimate conversation about what a person is doing, what the family is involved in, and what the individual is interested in. I feel very fortunate to have those discussions with classmates."

Whether a modest gesture or grand, whether behind the scenes or on center stage, renewing ties with the School, it seems, can be its own best reward.

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1976, Section I
Class of MBA 1976, Section B
Class of MBA 1976, Section E
Class of MBA 1976, Section C
Class of  
Class of MBA 1976, Section H
Class of MBA 1976, Section I
Class of MBA 1976, Section I

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