Harvard is many things to many people, which suits outgoing Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) President Ellen Gordon Reeves, A.B. ’83, Ed.M. ’86, just fine. Indeed, her focus over the past year has been getting alumni around the globe to “share their Harvard” and examine the many elements that compose one’s personal Harvard experience — and how that experience is applied after graduation. “It was beyond inspiring,” says Reeves, “to hear how alumni and club leaders all over the world are using their degrees from across the University to combat poverty in their countries, provide educational opportunities, write their constitutions, and boost their local economies.”
Reeves’ turn at the HAA helm, which coincided with Harvard’s yearlong 375th anniversary celebration, has been filled with highlights. Last fall, Reeves and HAA Executive Director Jack Reardon, A.B. ’60, led the 375th alumni parade through the streets of Cambridge. She has since joined Harvard Club leaders and other alumni for 375th celebrations and meetings in Washington, New Jersey, and Houston; coming up next are New York and her hometown of Providence, R.I. She has traveled to Warsaw, Cartagena, Colombia, and Paris, and participated in 375th events in Mumbai and New Delhi with Harvard President and Lincoln Professor of History Drew Faust. “If I thought I loved being involved with Harvard before,” says Reeves, an author and teacher, “this year only deepened my attachment and commitment to the HAA and to the University. It’s easy to forget what an extraordinary influence Harvard and its president have on the world until you see it firsthand, far away from home.” (You can read more about Reeves’ year as HAA president on her blog.)
Reeves is leaving the HAA in good hands as she prepares to pass the baton to Carl Muller, A.B. ’73, J.D. ’76, M.B.A. ’76, a two-time Harvard parent. Muller, a lawyer in Greenville, S.C., wants to encourage alumni to explore their Harvard “past, present, and future” during his tenure, a goal that seems especially apropos on the heels of Harvard’s 375th birthday. “For our alumni, their years at Harvard were among the best of their lives,” Muller says. “My goal is to stir those memories and honor those whose foresight and devotion over the centuries created this great gift for us and the world.”
Muller’s past work with the HAA includes chairing the nominating committee, helping to revise the HAA constitution, and strategic planning as a member of the executive committee. Those efforts, along with Reeves’ initiatives, have propelled the HAA to extraordinary growth as University-wide alumni engagement opportunities increase, in the U.S. and abroad. The success is a testament to strong alumni volunteer leadership and the dedication of Reardon’s HAA team, led by Deputy Executive Director Philip Lovejoy.
“I’m so excited for Carl because I’m sure he has no idea just how much fun is in store for him next year,” Reeves says. “Beneath that bow tie and soft-spoken Southern charm lie an incisive legal and literary mind and a terrific sense of humor — complemented by an affinity for great barbecue.”
“Ellen is living proof that Einstein was right,” Muller says. “Matter and energy are interchangeable. The energy in Ellen Reeves is mind-boggling. She has done 10 years’ worth of work for Harvard in just one.”