An Apple Does Not Fall Far From the Tree: Nigerians React as Dora Akunyili’s Daughter Is Elected Alumni Board Member of Harvard Kennedy School | #NwokeukwuMascot


Ijeoma Akunyili Elected to Harvard Kennedy School Alumni Board: Celebrating Legacy and Leadership | #NwokeukwuMascot

 Ijeoma Akunyili 

Cambridge, MA - In a notable achievement reflecting both heritage and individual excellence, Ijeoma Akunyili, the first daughter of the late Dora Akunyili, has been elected as an alumni board member of the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) in the United States. Ijeoma’s election, alongside eight other distinguished professionals from various countries, marks a significant milestone in her illustrious career and continues her family’s legacy of public service and leadership.

Ijeoma Akunyili, who currently serves as the Chief Medical Officer at Jersey City Medical Center, a facility under RWJ Barnabas Health in the US, will assume her new role on July 1. Her term as an alumni board member will span four years, during which she will contribute to the institution’s mission of fostering global leadership and public policy.

In an official statement, HKS highlighted the role of the alumni board, which includes 22 volunteer members dedicated to strengthening connections among HKS alumni worldwide. The board comprises 16 elected members and six appointed members, functioning through various working committees focused on engagement, connection, celebration, recognition, governance, and communication.

The statement elaborated on the board’s mission: “The board engages the global alumni community to champion the HKS mission, increase alumni engagement with one another and the school, lead the alumni association in pursuit of its purpose and goals, extend and enhance the alumni relations office programs and communications, and advise the dean on alumni perspectives.”

As part of her responsibilities, Ijeoma, along with her fellow board members, will attend biannual meetings in Cambridge, MA, at her own expense. They are also expected to dedicate substantial time to board work outside of these meetings, actively participate in assigned committees, and support initiatives aligned with the dean’s priorities for the school and alumni relations.

The HKS administration congratulated the newly elected board members and encouraged them to enhance alumni engagement and support the school’s mission. They also urged the board members to lead by example through personal contributions to the HKS fund and active advocacy for the institution within their respective communities.

In a call to action, the school asked alumni to recommend prospective students, share job or internship opportunities for current students, and encourage talented alumni to consider running for board positions in future elections.

Ijeoma Akunyili’s election is not only a personal triumph but also a testament to the enduring influence of her late mother, Dora Akunyili, who was a revered director-general of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and a former minister of information in Nigeria. This appointment underscores the adage, “An apple does not fall far from its tree,” as Ijeoma continues to build on her family’s legacy of impactful leadership and public service.

The Harvard Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University is a globally renowned institution dedicated to training leaders in public policy and administration. The school boasts a diverse and influential alumni network, actively engaged in shaping public policy and governance worldwide.


  1. Ije, may God be with you, go and Excel and Explore in the name of Jesus.


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