2020 Keynote Speaker: Anurima Bhargava
Anurima Bhargava is the President of Anthem of Us, a strategic advisory firm promoting dignity and justice in the building of our schools, workplaces and communities. In that capacity, she leads independent assessments of institutional culture and climate, conducts investigations of harassment and discrimination, and makes policy and practice recommendations.
From 2010-2016, she led federal civil rights enforcement in schools and institutions of higher education at the U.S. Department of Justice, and previously directed the education practice at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
In December 2018, Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed her U.S. Commissioner on International Religious Freedom.
Since leaving the Administration in 2016, she served as a fellow at the Open Society Foundations, as well as the Institute of Politics and the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard. In 2017, she was named a Presidential Leadership Scholar.
Bhargava currently chairs the board of Doc Society and the National Advisory Board for Public Service at Harvard and serves as a senior advisor to several think tanks and foundations. She also regularly advises and produces documentary films.
Bhargava graduated from Columbia Law School and Harvard College. She grew up on the south side of Chicago, where she currently resides.
Big Public Service Ideas
Big Public Service Ideas peakers give TEDTalk-style presentations on how their innovative public service models are creating impact and empowering communities.
Craig Altemose JD ’10, MPP ’10– Co-Founder and Executive Director, Better Future Project
Craig co-founded Better Future Project in 2011 and has served as its Executive Director since that time. Before starting BFP, he co-founded and led Students for a Just and Stable Future, a statewide student network that engaged students at over fifteen Massachusetts universities on climate policy. Craig holds a B.A. in International Relations from Eckerd College, an M.P.P. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. A native of Morris Plains, New Jersey, he now lives with his wife, Rouwenna, in Somerville, MA and enjoys playing strategy board games, running, and reading when not working for a just and livable future for all.
Genevieve Barnard Oni MPA ‘19, Co-Founder, MDaas Global
Genevieve’s venture, MDaaS Global, is on a mission to provide convenient, affordable, and high-quality diagnostics and primary care for Africa’s next billion, starting in Nigeria. In order to achieve this mission, MDaaS Global builds and operates tech-enabled diagnostic centers focused on providing care to low- and middle-income patients. MDaas Global won Harvard's President's Innovation Challenge in 2019.
Katya Fels Smyth AB ’93– Full Frame Initiative
Katya grew up in New Jersey and went to high school in Massachusetts, where she volunteered at one of the state’s first shelters for homeless families. While getting a degree in biology from Harvard, Katya continued working with people who are homeless, eventually becoming co-director of one of Cambridge, MA’s first emergency shelters. A hit-and-run of one of the shelter’s guests, uninvestigated by police, combined with the advice and vision of other shelter guests, led her to found Cambridge-based On The Rise, Inc. in 1995. On The Rise was widely recognized for its Full Frame Approach to working with women facing homelessness, trauma and crisis. In 2007, Katya left to work on what would become the Full Frame Initiative. She launched FFI’s systemic collaborations that are bringing a wellbeing orientation to Missouri’s juvenile justice and child welfare systems and the St. Louis County courts, and a multi-system effort in Massachusetts to reframe the government’s approach to the intersection of homelessness, sexual assault and domestic violence. A former Research Affiliate with MIT’s Community Innovators Lab, Research Fellow at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Echoing Green Fellow and Claneil Foundation Emerging Leaders Fellow, Katya speaks, publishes and advocates nationally for addressing poverty, violence, trauma and oppression by removing barriers to wellbeing. She has an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School, and a deep belief in the power of people to do good by and for each other. This, combined with her sense that our country isn’t fully living into that potential, feed her commitment to FFI, bolstered by amazing colleagues and copious coffee consumption. Katya is a terrible gardener and decent cook who lives in Western Massachusetts with her amazing husband and kids, and an unwieldy menagerie of dogs, cats and donkeys.
Kwame Owusu-Kesse AB ’06, MPP ’11, MBA ’12 – Harlem Children’s Zone
Kwame Owusu-Kesse has been the Chief Operating Officer of the Harlem Children’s Zone since 2014 and will become Chief Executive Officer in July 2020. After graduating from Harvard with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Mr. Owusu-Kesse began to work at the investment bank Morgan Stanley as an analyst. During his third year with the bank, he was chosen for an externship at the Harlem Children’s Zone, where he worked on several strategic analyses and was mentored by the then-CEO Geoffrey Canada.
After his one-year externship with HCZ, Mr. Owusu-Kesse returned to Harvard to pursue a joint degree program, receiving a Master’s in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School and Master’s in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government. After graduating, he returned to HCZ in 2012 as a Senior Manager/Special Assistant to the CEO, implementing initiatives to improve instruction, reduce costs and manage construction.
Since becoming COO, Mr. Owusu-Kesse has worked closely with Ms. Williams-Isom to oversee the 2,000 employees and its programming – from The Baby College to all its afterschool programs to its college support office – as well as implementing a multi-faceted strategic plan. The plan is leveraging HCZ’s program data to refine its strategies; pursuing innovative solutions to further improve participant outcomes; creating efficiencies to reduce costs without reducing effectiveness; and improve operations and procedures in several key areas.
Rohan Pavuluri AB ’18 - CEO and Co-Founder, Upsolve
Rohan Pavuluri serves as the CEO and co-founder of Upsolve.org, a non-profit organization created to help low-income New Yorkers navigate the process of bankruptcy in order to gain a second chance at sustainable financial livelihood. In the three years since its founding, Upsolve has become the largest legal aid nonprofit for bankruptcy in the United States.