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Six alumni receive HAA Award for outstanding service

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Six alumni receive HAA Award for outstanding service

Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

The Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) has announced the recipients of the 2020 HAA Awards: J. Jacques Carter, M.P.H. ’83, Martin J. “Marty” Grasso Jr. ’78, Cecily Orenstein Morse ’62, Yoshiko J. “June” Nagao ’96, Julie Gage Palmer ’84, and Kenneth A. Powell, M.B.A. ’74.

Established in 1990, the HAA Awards are presented annually to recognize alumni for their outstanding service to Harvard University through leadership and engagement activities.

J. Jacques Carter.

J. Jacques Carter, M.P.H. ’83

J. Jacques Carter of Brookline, Mass., has devoted his career and volunteer service to improving the well-being of his patients, his students, and his community. A distinguished physician and educator, Carter has served as a teacher, advisor, and mentor for students at Harvard College, Harvard Medical School (HMS), and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is a founding member of the Harvard Chan School’s Leadership Council, past president of the Harvard Chan School Alumni Association, and a former member of the boards of the HAA and the Harvard Club of Boston. He chairs the nominating committee for the Harvard Chan School’s Alumni Council and previously chaired several other alumni committees for the School and the HAA. As a member of Harvard’s Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility, he helped shape guidelines related to the University’s investment policies.

In 2010, Carter was honored with a community service lifetime achievement award from the HMS Office for Diversity and Community Partnership for his work as medical director of the Community Prostate Cancer Screening and Educational Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Carter is an attending physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where he completed his residency training in internal medicine. He is also an assistant professor at HMS and a consulting staff member at Dana-Farber.


Martin J. “Marty” Grasso Jr. ’78

Marty Grasso of Swampscott, Mass., is an enthusiastic and committed volunteer leader whose efforts have made it easier for his classmates and the greater alumni community to stay connected to each other and to Harvard. A proud member of the Harvard College Class of 1978, Grasso was selected to represent his class as an appointed director on the HAA board and has either chaired or served on the planning committee for each of his quinquennial reunions from the 5th to the 40th. In addition to chairing the HAA committee charged with broadening engagement among College alumni in the 25th to 40th reunion cohort, he led an initiative to reconceive how the HAA and volunteers can be more responsive to the needs of alumni across all age cohorts.

Grasso has also held several roles on the HAA Executive Committee, including serving as president in 2016–17. As HAA president, Grasso emphasized how volunteerism in general, and engagement with the Harvard community in particular, can improve the quality of one’s life. He continues to serve on the HAA board as a past president director and was recently elected to a three-year term on the board of the Harvard Club of Boston.

Grasso is cofounder of Pearl Street Asset Management, where he serves as managing director, and cofounder of TMA Precision Health, where he serves as chief of enterprise.

Cecily Morse.

Cecily Orenstein Morse ’62

Cecily Morse of Brookline, Mass., is a steadfast leader for her Radcliffe College class and a respected voice for a generation of alumnae and alumni. In 1997, Morse was honored by Radcliffe with an award for distinguished service, including several years as director of development and alumnae affairs, membership on the Radcliffe Quarterly editorial board and the Arts Advisory Committee, and many class leadership roles. The longtime president of the Radcliffe Class of 1962 and a frequent reunion co-chair, she was instrumental in successfully bringing together Harvard and Radcliffe classes for joint reunions.

Morse fostered engagement with alumni beyond their 50th reunion year as a member of the HAA’s “maintaining connections” committee and the Crimson Society working group, helping to plan annual programming for alumni and alumnae in the years between traditional milestone reunions and leading a task force that advocated for a senior living option on Harvard’s expanded campus in Allston. She continues to serve on the HAA board as a director for Harvard College.

Morse is a retired paintings and objects conservator and a former visiting scientist at the MIT Center for Materials Research in Archaeology and Ethnology.

June Nagao.

Yoshiko J. “June” Nagao ’96

June Nagao of Tokyo, Japan, is a dedicated Harvard volunteer who has worked to strengthen the alumni community in Japan and around the world. Nagao has served on the board of the Harvard Club of Japan for 10 years, helping to deepen alumni connections across Harvard’s Schools and the Asia-Pacific region. As a member of the events committee, she helped produce diverse programming including an annual intern event with Harvard’s Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and a reception for Japan’s first lady, Akie Abe.

Dedicated to social and environmental causes, Nagao is secretary of Harvard Alumni in IMPACT, one of the HAA’s newest Shared Interest Groups (SIGs), which brings together alumni across sectors to work toward innovation solutions through investment, metrics, policy, advocacy, climate action, and technology for good. She previously served on the HAA board as a director for Clubs and SIGs in the Asia-Pacific region. She was also a Japan representative for the Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance SIG, seeking to develop community among Asian American and Asian alumni globally.

After two decades in institutional finance and investments, Nagao cofounded Paulownia Group, an impact investment firm. She also serves as vice president of the board of GONGOVA, a cross-cultural NGO program between Japan and Thailand.

Julie Palmer.

Julie Gage Palmer ’84

Julie Palmer of Chicago, Illinois, has empowered students and alumni to have a positive impact in their own communities as a longtime alumni interviewer and dedicated volunteer for the Harvard Club of Chicago. Palmer has been recruiting and evaluating Chicago-area applicants to Harvard College for decades, cultivating critical relationships with fellow alumni, students, and guidance counselors. In 2006, she joined the board of the Chicago Club, where she cofounded and now coordinates the Harvard School Liaison Program, which pairs alumni with more than 100 local schools. She also co-chairs the Club’s Schools and Scholarships Committee. In 2014, the Office of Admissions presented her with the Miller-Hunn Award to honor her outstanding service as an alumni interviewer. A former HAA elected director, she currently serves on the HAA board as a member of the Committee to Nominate Overseers and Elected Directors.

Palmer is also cofounder and former president of the Harvard Alumni for Global Women’s Empowerment (GlobalWE) SIG — an international, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering women and raising awareness about access to education, political rights, and freedom from violence. In her current GlobalWE role, she coordinates a global essay contest giving voice to students concerned about challenges facing women and girls around the world.

A former lecturer in law at University of Chicago Law School, Palmer is the co-author of The Ethics of Human Gene Therapy and has written extensively on medical ethics.


Kenneth A. Powell, M.B.A. ’74

Ken Powell of New York City embodies the notion of “One Harvard” as a proud champion of both Harvard Business School (HBS) alumni and the broader Harvard alumni community for more than 40 years. Powell has been an officer and board member of the HBS Club of New York — including three terms as president — since 1975, initiating vastly expanded offerings. As president of the HBS alumni board, he originated the first HBS Global Alumni Conference in Paris, convening prominent leaders from across Europe. He is a former vice president, two-time nominating committee chair, and board member of the Harvard Club of New York City, where he led the 2005 search leading to the Club’s first general manager of color and Club modernization.

In nearly 25 year as president of the HBS African-American Alumni Association (HBSAAA), he endowed a professorship, provided leadership opportunities, and helped build a strong, vibrant community. Powell has inspired generations to pursue business careers, see HBS as possible, and expand aspirations to previously unimagined heights. For his many contributions, the HBSAAA and HBS African American Student Union honored him with its first Bert King Award for Service and named the Kenneth A. Powell Award for Professional Achievement in his honor.

An experienced business and social enterprise leader, Powell is an executive coach and management consultant.