For Vanessa Liu ’96, J.D. ’03, the work she has pursued throughout her life, which has included helping women and members of other underrepresented groups launch startups, has had a through line: “ to supersede lines that divide [us] by concentrating on the fundamental things we have in common.” Liu is committed to continuing this work as the next president of the Harvard Alumni Association (HAA), a role she steps into on July 1 with both an eagerness to build on the association’s successes of the past year and a boldness to take on new challenges — opportunities, she calls them.
When Liu talks about the year ahead, she infuses her plans and priorities with several recurring themes: finding ways to help alumni “come together as One Harvard,” “take action to help one another create change in their communities and in the world,” and “bridge divides, especially on a global level.”
She’s proud of the work the HAA has already done in the areas of diversity, inclusion, and belonging, and she hopes to build upon it.
Her vision is shaped by her own experience as an alumna and as a volunteer leader. Liu finds deep “fulfillment in seeing people connect with one another” and making sure everyone feels they belong, something that has special meaning to her as a child of immigrant parents, she said. She also has a keen awareness that this is a time of increasing societal and political polarization. She recently helped organize an HAA virtual panel event called “Alumni Allyship Series: After Atlanta, how do Asian Americans want us to show up?” More than 65 Harvard Clubs joined as co-sponsors.
“The Harvard alumni community can give you so much,” Liu said, “and not just meaningful intergenerational, global friendships, but also a path to having impact together in a way that is special to Harvard.” This will be part of her message to the Harvard College Class of 2021 when she welcomes them to the alumni community next week during Class Day.