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Richard Pearl ALB ’97

Richard Pearl
Concord, MA

I am indebted to the Harvard Extension School for the quality of my education and the lessons that have carried me through a nearly 40-year professional career. As the Global Corporate Responsibility (CR) Officer for a Fortune 500 company for the last 20+ years, I have learned how important it is to give back to society, in general, but also to those institutions which demonstrably make positive contributions to the world.

For the past several years I have served on the board of the United Nations Global Compact’s US Network, the last three-plus as the chairperson. Prior to that, I served on the global steering committee of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) for four years. As a result, I have experience in strategic planning, financial oversight and adherence to strong governance principles, all of which allow a board to succeed in positioning their organization to best serve their members.

One of the most important roles in a smooth-functioning and high-performing board is that of the Secretary. It’s a position that has insight into all of a board’s many functions, and makes sure that it runs according to its principles and charter. I am a detail-oriented individual who enjoys delving into the by-laws of an organization to better understand how it is intended to be run, and what it’s ultimate goals should be. And I am not shy about doing the work: in my first year as char of the Global Compact Network USA I put in over 120 hours of service.

And finally, Harvard is personally important to me. My grandfather was a Cambridge resident, and was a standout athlete, so much so that he was recruited to play football for the Crimson. At the time, however, Harvard had an elitist reputation that led my grandfather to walk away. Flash forward 60 years, he was one of my greatest supporters when I decided to pursue a degree at the Extension School. The fact that Harvard offered a program where the only qualification was whether you could do the work and achieve a scholastic record to remain in school, resonated with his common man pedigree. It was a proud moment when I handed him my diploma on his 91st birthday. And the doors it has opened for his grandson since then are something that I am truly grateful for.

I am the husband of a nationally-recognized nutritionist who specializes in eating disorders. I am the father of two daughters: one a successful anti-trust lawyer in Washington, D.C. who does pro bono work helping immigrants navigate through our legal system; and the other a doctor of environmental science who studies the impact of climate change on coastal communities. So even though I have had a very fulfilling and satisfying career overseeing the environmental, social and governance (ESG) program of a large multi-national company, I feel inspired by their collective contributions to society. And helping the Harvard Extension School to build on its strong foundation would be one more way that I could help to live up to the examples of these three strong women.