Leadership Development

CPL’s co-curricular leadership development programming at Harvard supports students, many of whom arrive on campus with previous leadership experience, to practice and apply leadership within the Harvard Kennedy School context. Our impact is measured by the excellence exhibited by our graduates as they lead in challenging, complex, and ever-changing globalized contexts.

For more information, please contact Ellen Gallagher, Senior Program Manager for Leadership Development.

Tryptich of student photos--in the classroom and walking in Chicago

Public Leadership Cohort

The Public Leadership Cohort is a group of approximately 20 students representing the breadth of HKS degree programs that is housed at the Center for Public Leadership (CPL).

The cohort is designed to:

  1. Build insight into your own journey and leadership style, strengths and growing edges.
  2. Deepen learning of critical leadership competencies through participation in faculty-led workshops.
  3. Strengthen personal and professional networks through coaching and mentoring opportunities.

In addition to these opportunities, cohort members gain special access to CPL, and broker relationships with senior leaders such as CPL’s Hauser Leaders and Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellows.




Thomas Brown, MPA-ID 2022, is passionate about tackling human capital challenges in developing countries. Before HKS, he spent 5 years in the Asia-Pacific region working with the World Bank, Australian-funded bilateral programs, and NGOs to improve health and education outcomes for poor, rural and refugee communities. Through the cohort, Tom hopes to explore how he can combine his diverse background in sociology, public policy, economics, music and performing arts to exercise public leadership.

Darys Estrella, MC/MPA 2022 - She has worked in the private sector (capital markets) for the last 30 years. She is passionate about women empowerment, gender equality and financial inclusion. After HKS, she plans to transition to the public sector. Through CPL, she aims to strengthen her leadership skills and to become a better public leader.

Derrick Flakoll, MPP 2022, works at the intersection of technology, sustainable development, and democratic governance. He has helped launch healthtech and campaign finance startups, researched development aid in Myanmar for the Asia Foundation, and consulted on innovation strategy for VCs and national governments. His cohort goals: become a better advocate, build resilience, and deepen his empathic leadership style.

Divya Goel, MPA/ID 2022, is interested in developing market solutions to address the future of work. Before joining Harvard, she worked with Indian state governments on designing and implementing programs on education and skills. She wants to focus on enhancing her ability to mobilise people from diverse perspectives and backgrounds towards a common purpose.

Carmen Hernández Ruiz, MPA/ID 2022, is passionate about gender equality and social inclusion. Before coming to HKS, Carmen worked as a social protection consultant for the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. In these roles, she focused on program evaluation, care policy, and female labor participation in Mexico. Carmen aims to enhance critical leadership skills to tackle public challenges.

Gina Kawas, MC/MPA 2022, was born and raised in Honduras. She is passionate about advancing women’s rights/gender equality in Central America, as well as environmental justice in the region. For the past 10 years, Gina has worked to build bridges among the private sector, civil society, and multilateral organizations such as the Central American Bank for Economic Integration. At HKS, she focuses on strengthening leadership and advocacy abilities to reduce polarization between different key stakeholders. Through CPL, she aims to hone critical skills to combat gender-based violence and discriminatory stereotypes against women in decision-making positions.

Yogesh Kumar, MC/MPA 2022, is a Fulbright scholar from India. Yogesh is a social entrepreneur who started Even Cargo in 2016 and OYE foundation in 2014 to address the issue of gender discrimination in India. He was also a visiting faculty at the Ambedkar University, Delhi, where he taught social entrepreneurship to graduate students 

Matthew McNaughton, MC/MPA 2022, is a digital development practitioner from Kingston, Jamaica. He currently holds Edward S. Mason and Ash Democracy Fellowships at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he is pursuing a Masters in Public Administration. His mission is to leverage digital to make the promise of Jamaica real for those who visit and all who call it home. 

Daniel Ofosu, MC/MPA 2022 - Prior to studying at The Harvard Kennedy School, Daniel spent a significant portion of his career working in investment and commercial banking for the largest privately owned bank in Ghana and in New York and Delaware for JP Morgan Chase. Daniel is passionate about economic development and has a strong interest in creating solutions that promote public and private sector collaboration particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. He holds an MBA from Drexel University and a Bachelors degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Ghana. He enjoys watching sports and reading biographies.

Rodrigo Pérez-Tejada, MPP 2022, is focusing his studies on business and government policy. Before HKS, he worked at FTI Consulting, a risk management consulting firm, where he specialized in investigations regarding corruption, fraud, corporate compliance and security. His recent work focuses on the social impact of digital platforms and the regulation of the technology industry in Latin America. He aims to sharpen his skills and lead in the complex intersection between the private and public sectors.

Harsh Vardhan Sahni, MC/MPA 2022, has been working for the last decade with UN agencies, nonprofits, research and technical assistance bodies, mostly on designing, implementing, evaluating and scaling up public health solutions. Harsh has prior graduate degrees from the Delhi School of Economics and University of Oxford.

Liat Schlesinger, MC/MPA 2022, is a research fellow at Molad research center. She served as Molad's executive director (2016-2021) and head of investigative research (2014-2016). Prior to joining Molad, Liat was an investigative journalist at Ma'ariv daily newspaper, and was awarded the Pratt Prize for Environmental Journalism. She holds an M.A. in International Development from the Hebrew University.

Sehr Taneja, MPP 2022, aspires to spend her time working at the intersection of media and public policy, leveraging the power of communication reduce polarization, bridge divides between societies, and contribute to the battle for gender equality. In her life before HKS, she served as a Chief of Staff for a the Chief Whip in the national Parliament of India.

Nico Maffey, MPA/ID 2022, is a student at the Harvard Kennedy School and the president of the Digital Innovation and Fintech Club. He is also the co-founder of Vaiven, a Mexico-based marketplace that connects lenders to borrowers typically excluded from the traditional financial system. Prior to HKS, he served as a Digital Development Consultant for the World Bank and Director of Economic Development for the City of Buenos Aires. Nico holds an A.B. from Harvard College and an M.S. in Applied Economics from Di Tella University in Argentina. He is the recipient of the 2021 McKinsey Achievement Award and a Fellow at Yard Ventures.




Aleena Ali, MPP 2023, is passionate about enhancing economic competitiveness in emerging and frontier markets. Aleena previously worked in Islamabad, Pakistan as an economic officer for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Prior to this, she was based in Sydney, Australia as a consultant focused on enhancing Australian investments in Asia and in Dubai, UAE, as a political, strategic and investment climate risk analyst focused on South Asia. Born and raised in Pakistan, she hopes to strengthen her leadership skills through the PL Cohort to advance private sector development and business environment reform in emerging markets.

Aneesa Andrabi, MPP 2023, is a policy professional, passionate about data-driven, effective social and urban policy. She spent the last 3 years working in the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. As Infrastructure Manager on the City Services team, Aneesa helped direct the Mayor’s agenda on mobility and infrastructure. She also served on the Mayor’s COVID-19 Response team, and spearheaded the City’s response effort for vulnerable seniors. She developed a first-in-the-nation program that worked with small restaurants and taxi-cabs to provide meals to 20,000 low-income seniors. She also supported City's vaccine equity program, using data to target limited mobile vaccine pop-up resources in low-income neighborhoods. Previously, she worked at HR&A Advisors, Inc., a national urban development advisory firm. Aneesa graduated from Swarthmore College’s Honors program with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Public Policy.

Brianne Berry, MPP 2023, is concentrating on social and urban policy at HKS. She is also interested in diplomacy and foreign affairs. Most recently, Brianne worked as an Immigration Services Officer at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and was a Fulbright Scholar in Madrid, Spain. She hopes to strengthen and build confidence in her leadership style through the Public Leadership Cohort.

Alejandro Chirinos, MPA-ID 2023: Alejandro’s career has spun around media and infrastructure. He has performed from the private and public angles in the infrastructure sector including delivery-unit for the Vice-President of Colombia, an investment banker of Public-Private Partnerships, and a development bank official. He is an economist and industrial engineer. He is passionate about music, writing, and traveling.

John Garrison, MPA 2023, is an Air Force officer who is passionate about national security, public leadership, and humanitarian aid projects.  Before coming to HKS, John spent eight years flying the U-28 and MC-12 aircrafts.  Through the spring leadership cohort, John hopes to improve his leadership skills both as a military officer and as a civilian involved in humanitarian relief.

Imogen Hobby, MPP 2023, joins HKS from a previous life as a high school maths teacher in Cardiff, UK. Her focus is on breaking the link between socioeconomic status and school outcomes, with a particular interest in early education, community violence prevention and access to mental healthcare. Imogen hopes to sharpen her vision for leadership in the education space by connecting with and learning from others.

Renata Koch, from Brazil, is a first-year MPP candidate at HKS, where she works as a Belfer Research Fellow for the Arctic Initiative. She is the Founder of EmpoderaClima, a global initiative on gender and climate justice. Prior to Harvard, she led the political work for the UK in Rio de Janeiro. Renata holds a Bachelor's Degree in International Relations.

Maddie Kriger, MPA 2023, is a Democratic strategist who has led advertising campaigns for leading Democratic candidates and organizations, like Hillary Clinton, Priorities USA, and Climate Power. As an MPA student at HKS, Maddie is exploring how structural changes to Democratic organizations can deliver better outcomes for voters. She is also passionate about regulating social media companies and combating political misinformation.

Anneka Kumli, MPP 2023, is originally from Boulder, Colorado and attended Stanford University where she studied Political Science, Theater and Performing Arts, and Italian. Following graduation, she worked for former Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper before moving to New York City to pursue a career in the performing arts. In addition to acting, Anneka worked as an after school teacher for five years. In 2020, she started her own company called Masks with Mission, which focused on getting 2-ply, machine washable "VOTE" masks out to communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic and voter suppression efforts.

Tarinee Kucchal, MPP 2023, is a medical practitioner from Melbourne, Australia, who has dedicated 9 years of clinical work in the surgical field between Australia, Singapore, and India. While working as a frontliner during the COVID-19 pandemic and completing her MPH, she found herself drawn towards the systemic challenges of health care delivery, public health, and health inequities. She soon joined Harvard Medical School's Program in Global Surgery and Social Change as a Paul Famer Research Fellow, where she researches barriers to access to surgical, obstetric, and critical care and advocates for greater investments in health systems strengthening. Concerned with devising solutions and policies that resolve existing health inequities and barrier to health, she came to HKS to develop her skills to deliver change and social impact at the systemic level.

Renzo Mini is a Peruvian economist and a first-year MPA/ID candidate at HKS. Renzo started in the private sector (asset management). However, he especially enjoyed his time working in education at a Latin American development bank. Passionate about improving the quality of life of others, Renzo hopes that the Center of Public Leadership will help him improve his team-building and coaching skills.

Yomna Mohei Eldin is a first-year MPA/ID candidate with experience in the public and the private sector. Yomna worked in the Central Bank of Egypt as well as in a local consulting firm in Cairo providing consultancy services to the public sector. At HKS, Yomna is interested in examining the possible role of the government in promoting private sector led growth.

Liam O’Brien, MPP 2023, is an Australian lawyer and civil servant interested in structural economic reform to improve productivity, mitigate the climate crisis and address socio-economic and intergenerational inequities.  During his time at the Kennedy School he will focus on political economy while sharpening his conceptual and quantitative skills.  He is also interested in international trade and security, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

Rose O'Brien, MPP 2023, is using her first year at HKS to explore domestic in the US related to climate change and inequity in the South. Before coming to the Kennedy School, she worked on community economic development through the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and was a Fulbright Scholar in Sardinia. Since 2016, she has done community organizing with refugee communities in the US and Europe.

Mena Prince, MPP 2023, is an Atlanta native born to an Ethiopian mother and African-American father. She grew up in dual ethnic and religious household, where she was exposed to various cultural backgrounds. Mena pursued a Bachelors in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance at Georgia State University, while mentoring to first-year students. She was able to utilize her degree along with her passion for service to pursue a position as a Peace Corps Volunteers in Liberia, where she served as a secondary math educator for a little over two years. After returning to the states, Mena, still committed to civil service, joined the federal government as a project manager working with various agencies to ensure their missions were achieved. During her time at Harvard Kennedy School she is concentrating in International and Global Affairs.

Henry Rounds, HKS MPA/ID 2023 and MIT MBA 2013, focuses his studies on development economics. Prior to HKS, Henry was a strategy consultant, advising nonprofits, foundations, and social entrepreneurs on how to increase their scale and effectiveness. He is particularly passionate about how government policies and private sector incentives can cultivate/encourage healthier labor markets. Through CPL, he hopes to learn from like-minded people and align path with purpose.

Mihika Sharma, MPA/ID 2023, aspires to ensure equitable access to high-quality early childhood development in developing countries through the effective integration of education and health programming. Prior to HKS, Mihika worked with Pratham, an education-based NGO in India. She is also interested in enabling gender equity through education and building non-profit organisational effectiveness.

Tiaji Sio, MPA 2023, is a McCloy Fellow and focuses her HKS studies on foreign and security policy. She most recently held positions in the German Foreign Service in Berlin, Dakar, Maputo, and Hanoi. As the founder of the initiative Diplomats of Color, she advocates for greater diversity and inclusion in the Foreign Service and is a Forbes 30 Under 30 and Capital Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 list-maker.


Faculty-Led Leadership Development Workshops

LD faculty workshops offer students the chance to engage with professors whose research, contributions, and leadership have shaped discourse in the public service arena. These workshops are open only to non-CPL fellows and student participants are chosen from a competitive application pool. Among the distinguished faculty who have taught our workshops are Max Bazerman (Behavioral Insights); Patricia Bellinger (Leading in a Diverse World); Dana Born (Authentic Leadership); Steve Jarding (Running for Public Office); and Brian Mandell (Art of Negotiation). Each workshop consists of two consecutive sessions, with preference given to HKS students who are not enrolled in the professor’s class.

Leadership Development Practitioner Workshops

LD practitioner workshops provide students with the unique opportunity to engage with high-profile practitioners leading across sectors in both domestic and international settings. Workshops offer an interactive environment in which students develop practical skills to help them navigate the communities they will serve post-HKS.

Past practitioner participants include Deborah Borda, former Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and recently-appointed Chief Executive Officer of the New York Philharmonic; Rand Wentworth, President Emeritus of the Land Trust Alliance; and Sophia MacLaren, Director of the Mindfulness in Business Program from the Said Business School at the University of Oxford. Topics covered included philanthropy and fundraising, board management, mindfulness in leadership, and non-profit leadership.