08 Dec 2017

Harvard Business Grads Are Putting Politics Above Profits

More than a dozen alumni are running campaigns for local, state, or national government
Re: Timothy Keller (MBA 2005); Margaret Busse (MBA 2001); Adem Bunkeddeko (MBA 2017); Sarah Amico (MBA 2003); Mitt Romney (MBA 1974); Daniella Ballou-Aares (MBA 2001); Rye Barcott (MBA 2009); Seth Moulton (MBA 2011); Josh Harder (MBA 2014); RD Huffstetler (MBA 2009); Dan Koh (MBA 2011); Dan McCready (MBA 2011); Maura Sullivan (MBA 2009); Van Taylor (MBA 2001); Ruthanne Fuller (MBA 1983); Stephanie Hirsch (MBA 1999); Horacio Larreta (MBA 1993); Jared Henderson (MBA 2007); Mitchell Weiss


Photo by Bess Adler for the Wall Street Journal

After a tumultuous year in US politics, more than a dozen recent alumni have thrown their hats into the ring to launch careers in public service.

“More and more people are feeling they need to step up and that they can, because they have the right skills to solve the big, important problems we face,” Matt Segneri (MBA 2010) told the Wall Street Journal this week. Segneri, who directs the School’s Social Enterprise Initiative, said the number of HBS grads getting into politics has spiked recently and includes members of both political parties and independents.

Among them are: Tim Keller (MBA 2005), the former state auditor of New Mexico, who was elected mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico in November; Margaret Busse (MBA 2001), who is running for Massachusetts state senate; Adem Bunkeddeko (MBA 2017), who is running for a US congressional seat in New York; Sarah Amico (MBA 2003), who is expected to announce a bid for lieutenant governor in Georgia; and Mitt Romney (MBA 1974), who is anticipated to announce a run for the US Senate in Utah.

“The interest really built on itself as people started to see that they could be successful in making a difference in public service,” HBS professor of management practice Mitchell Weiss (MBA 2004) told the Journal. Before joining the HBS faculty, Weiss was chief of staff to former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. Weiss notes that more than 70 students registered for his course on entrepreneurship in the public sector last fall, compared to just 30 students in 2015.

In addition to running campaigns, other alumni are forming organizations to support these efforts. Daniella Ballou-Aares (MBA 2001) helped launch the nonprofit Leadership Now after the 2016 election to recruit alumni and other business leaders to enter politics and to help with fundraising. And the super PAC With Honor, cofounded by Rye Barcott (MBA 2009), was formed in November to support veterans running for office. It plans to spend around $30 million campaigning for 25 to 35 congressional candidates in 2018.

According to Segneri, following is a partial list of other alumni either currently serving in or running for office:

National/State Government
Seth Moulton (MBA 2011; Congress in Massachusetts, reelected 2018)
Joshua Harder (MBA 2014; running for Congress in California)
Jared Henderson (MBA 2007; running for governor of Arkansas)
Roger Dean Huffstetler (MBA 2009; running for Congress in Virginia)
Daniel Koh (MBA 2011; running for Congress in Massachusetts)
Daniel McCready (MBA 2011; running for Congress in North Carolina)
Maura Sullivan (MBA 2009; running for Congress in New Hampshire)
Van Taylor (MBA 2001; running for Congress in Texas)

Local Government
Ruthanne Fuller (MBA 1983; mayor of Newton, Massachusetts, elected November 2017)
Stephanie Hirsch (MBA 1999; alderman in Somerville, Massachusetts, elected November 2017)
Horacio Rodríguez Larreta (MBA 1993; mayor of Buenos Aires, elected 2015)

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