When Harvard Business School announced their inaugural recipients of the Recognizing Individuals Seeking Equity (RISE) Fellowship, we wanted to hear more about these accomplished individuals. Amari Griffin, MBA/MS Engineering Sciences ’23, offers more about her HBS experience and commitment to communities of color in this edition of Fridays from the Frontline.
Living the HBS RISE Fellow Mission
By: Amari Griffin, Harvard MBA/MS ‘23
I have always felt I made the biggest impact in my community through community service, where I always strive to improve the lives of others. For the past seven years, I have concentrated my efforts within two organizations – National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (DST).
In NSBE, I have held both regional and national finance-related roles because I believe that a continuous flow of money is crucial for NSBE to achieve its goal of graduating 10,000 Black engineers annually by 2025. As National Financial Controller, I supported the management of finances for six regions, encompassing 20k+ members, by developing best practices the regions could use to manage finances and give more back to their members. With COVID impacting their main revenue generators—conferences— I knew it was imperative that we find alternative ways to generate/manage revenue to support their local chapters. Prior to this role, I was NSBE’s National Convention Planning Committee Treasurer, where I sourced revenue for NSBE’s largest convention to date in Detroit.
As a member of DST, I have always been committed to the constructive development of the Black community. This commitment led me, along with 115 other women, to identify a need for an additional Delta chapter in Chicago to effectively respond to the socioeconomic challenges of its 3 million residents (and 1.6 million African Americans) and as such, chartered the Chicago Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter (CMAC). Since chartering, CMAC has made a significant impact in the community by hosting voter education panels, participating with and donating to the March of Dimes, providing Thanksgiving meals for those in need, and sponsoring “drive-by” baby showers.
My dedication for promoting diverse thought has now extended to my position as a student leader at HBS. I serve as my student section’s Education Representative, where I insert my experiences as an underrepresented minority (URM) into conversations and gather the feedback of my section mates to voice concerns about how different teaching practices, concepts and cases can make URMs feel further marginalized. I also leverage my position to give those students who feel they have no voice, direct access to those in power to ensure they are heard and their needs are consistently met. It does not matter if the issue affects one student or all 92 students in my section, if it can improve the educational experience of a classmate, especially one already combating the challenges of being a minority, then I will take on the task of resolving that issue.
I have also leveraged my position as a joint degree MBA/MS Engineering Sciences student to collaborate on diversity recruitment efforts at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). As a Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Fellow, I use the insights I gain from fellow students, and my own experiences, to develop best practices to make URM feel more included and to identify ways to close gaps in the access that URMs have when looking to join Harvard’s community. Recently, I have taken on the task of attending NSBE’s upcoming Annual Convention School and Career Fair, to provide Black engineers considering graduate school with the insights they need to make an informed decision about where to apply. As a Black woman, I am excited to be the face of recruiting for an elite, predominantly white institution such as Harvard, during this convention. It provides me the opportunity to connect with students in ways my colleagues may not be able to.