Meredith “Max” Hodges ’03, M.B.A ’10, executive director of Boston Ballet, has been elected president of the Harvard University Board of Overseers for the 2023-24 academic year. Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine ’92, M.P.P. ’96, a nonprofit leader focused on healthcare delivery and biomedical research, will serve as vice chair of the board’s executive committee for the same term.
Elected as Overseers in 2018, Hodges and Acuña-Sunshine will assume the board’s top leadership roles for the final year of their terms. They will succeed Paul Choi ’86, J.D. ’89, a partner at the international law firm Sidley Austin LLP, and Leslie Tolbert ’73, Ph.D. ’78, Regents’ Professor Emerita in Neuroscience and former senior vice president for research at the University of Arizona.
“Max Hodges and Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine have served Harvard with extraordinary thoughtfulness, insight, and dedication for the past five years,” said President Larry Bacow. “Together they bring a valuable set of complementary perspectives to the work of the Overseers and the University. It’s been a pleasure to serve alongside each of them, and I’m sure their leadership and commitment will be real assets to Claudine Gay as she steps into her new role.”
The Board of Overseers is one of Harvard’s two governing boards, along with the President and Fellows, also known as the Corporation. Formally established in 1642, the board plays an integral role in the governance of the University. As a central part of its work, the board directs the visitation process, the primary means for periodic external assessment of Harvard’s Schools and departments. Through its array of standing committees, and the roughly 50 visiting committees that report to them, the board probes the quality of Harvard’s programs and assures that the University remains true to its charter as a place of learning. More generally, drawing on its members’ diverse experience and expertise, the board provides counsel to the University’s leadership on priorities, plans, and strategic initiatives. The board also has the power of consent to certain actions, such as the election of Corporation members, including the president.
Known for her combination of creative energy, executive skill, and commitment to expanding access to the arts, Max Hodges has been executive director of Boston Ballet since 2014. Her leadership has been recognized by the Boston Business Journal, which named her a “40 under 40” honoree in 2019, and by the Commonwealth Institute and The Boston Globe, which named Boston Ballet one of the top 100 women-led Massachusetts businesses for five years in a row. Before joining Boston Ballet, Hodges was executive director of Gallim Dance, a New York-based contemporary dance company, and held a variety of roles at the Museum of Modern Art. She began her career at Bain & Company.
On Harvard’s Board of Overseers, Hodges chairs the committee on humanities and arts. She also serves on the board’s executive committee, including its subcommittees on governance and visitation; the committee on finance, administration, and management; and the governing boards’ joint committee on alumni affairs and development. In addition, she is a member of a wide range of visiting committees, including those for Harvard Business School, the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and Harvard Radcliffe Institute.
“I feel enormously honored to be elected president of the Board of Overseers,” said Hodges. “As the child of two public school teachers, I have always believed that education is the single most important source of opportunity and advancement. Harvard sets an example for the field nationally and internationally. It has been a deeply rewarding experience to serve and learn alongside such accomplished, devoted, and diverse board colleagues for the past five years, and to engage with Harvard’s extraordinary leaders. I feel fortunate to have served during Larry Bacow’s presidency, and to have learned from his leadership. And I’m filled with energy and excitement to help guide the board as Claudine Gay takes on her new role at this vital time for Harvard and higher education.”
Hodges is a 2003 graduate of Harvard College and a 2010 graduate of Harvard Business School. A frequent speaker on entrepreneurship in the arts, and an engaged alumna of both the College and HBS, she regularly advises students interested in pursuing impactful careers in the arts and social enterprise. As an undergraduate, she was director of CityStep Harvard, which uses dance and movement to cultivate self-expression and self-esteem in area schoolchildren. She later served on CityStep’s graduate board. Under her leadership at the Boston Ballet, the company has hosted both HBS Social Enterprise Summer Fellows and HBS Leadership Fellows. She is a member of the Dance/USA Managers Council.
A social entrepreneur, lawyer, and finance executive who divides her time between Boston and the Philippines, Geraldine Acuña-Sunshine is founder and president of the Sunshine Care Foundation for Neurological Care and Research and the Collaborative Center for XDP at the Massachusetts General Hospital, two organizations focused on serving individuals and families impacted by X-Linked Dystonia Parkinsonism, a neurological disease affecting people of Filipino descent. She is also senior counsel at Bracebridge Capital, a Boston-based investment management firm.
“Harvard has been an important part of my life since my student days, and serving as an Overseer has been a terrific opportunity to help think about how Harvard can best serve the world,” said Acuña-Sunshine. “I’m really looking forward to the coming year with my fellow board members, and especially to supporting President-elect Gay as she launches her presidency.”
As an Overseer, Acuña-Sunshine serves as chair of the committee on institutional policy. She also serves on the executive committee, the committee on natural and applied sciences, and the governing boards’ joint committee on inspection. She is a member of the visiting committees for the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, International and Area Studies, Harvard College, the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Long an active alumna, Acuña-Sunshine was a member of the board of the Harvard Alumni Association from 2012 to 2018, and she is a current member of the HAA committee to nominate Overseers and HAA elected directors. She serves on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council and was on the FAS campaign steering committee in 2017-18. She is co-president of the Harvard Club of the Philippines and co-chairs the Harvard Kennedy School Fund Executive Council. She is also a member of the Harvard College Fund Executive Committee, which she co-chaired from 2015 to 2018.
Acuña-Sunshine graduated from Harvard College in 1992 and received a master of public policy degree from the Harvard Kennedy School in 1996, as well as a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1999. Early in her career, she practiced law at the firms White & Case and Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault. A trustee of the Massachusetts General Hospital, she also serves on the boards of Harvard Hillel, the Women’s Foundation of Boston, and the Anti-Defamation League. In 2018, she received the ADL’s Woman of Valor Award for her work on behalf of ADL in the New England region.