Tracy Palandjian Elected to Harvard Corporation

Succeeds retiring member William F. Lee

Tracy Palandjian outside of Loeb House
Tracy Palandjian ’93, M.B.A. ’97, new Corporation member, shown outside Loeb House, where the governing boards meetPhotograph by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard University 

Tracy Pun Palandjian ’93, M.B.A. ’97, has been elected to the Harvard Corporation, the University’s 13-member fiduciary governing board, effective July 1. Harvard announced the election today, following a regularly scheduled meeting of the governing boards this past weekend. She succeeds retiring senior fellow William F. Lee, who completes a dozen years of service on June 30. As previously announced, Corporation member Penny Pritzker has been elected senior fellow, succeeding Lee in that role.

Palandjian has been extensively involved in Harvard service—as a member of the Board of Overseers from 2012 to 2018, and of the presidential search committee in 2017-2018 that culminated in the appointment of Lawrence S. Bacow as the University’s twenty-ninth leader. Palandjian also served on the Corporation’s finance committee, and as an Overseer was on visiting committees to the Business School, the College, the Division of Continuing Education, and the Harvard Kennedy School. She also chaired the Harvard Alumni Association’s Committee to Nominate Overseers and Elected Directors—an unusually visible position in recent years when Harvard Forward slates of petition candidates qualified for the ballot and succeeded in being elected to the Board. 

According to the news announcement, Palandjian was born and raised in Hong Kong, and came to the United States at age 14 to attend Milton Academy. She graduated magna cum laude from the College, and after working at McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm, returned to the Business School to earn her M.B.A. as a Baker Scholar. Like Lee, she is a Boston-area resident, an advantage for service as a Corporation member. Her other local engagements include service as a director of the Boston Foundation and of Mass. General Brigham, the dominant academic hospitals in the region (and Harvard Medical School affiliates).

“Tracy Palandjian is an outstanding Harvard citizen, strongly committed to excellence in education, widely experienced in nonprofit leadership and governance, and deeply dedicated to how universities can serve the world,” said Lee in a statement in the news announcement. “She’s also an extraordinarily good colleague, someone who knows Harvard and our community well and who’s always willing to answer the call to serve. She has been one of Harvard’s most engaged and thoughtful alumni leaders in recent years, and I know that her insights and perspective will contribute a great deal to the Corporation’s work.”

Palandjian said, “Harvard changed my life. It has shaped my ideals, instilled a sense of responsibility that guides my work, and given me lasting roots in this community and country. I am deeply honored by the opportunity to join the Corporation and continue my service to an institution that means so much to me.”

Palandjian co-founded and is CEO of Social Finance, a nonprofit organization that applies capital through public and private partnerships—in the form of “social impact bonds”—to address challenges in education, health, housing, and economic mobility. (Nonprofit intermediaries, like Social Finance and Third Sector Capital Partners, founded by George Overholser ’82, contract with a government entity to finance a program—for example, to reduce recidivism; raise the funds needed and contract with a service provider to implement the program; and then earn a return for investors based on the success of the program as measured by the savings or other goals specified by the public agency;  the process is described in this Harvard Magazine article.)

Tracy Palandjian’s husband, Leon Palandjian ’91, M.D. ’00, proceeded through the College and a Harvard professional school, too (they met as undergraduates in Eliot House), moving from an economics concentration to the pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology venture investing, and ultimately to his current role as chief risk officer for Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation, the development enterprise founded by his father, which has 144 properties with 31 million square feet of space in its portfolio (including 1280 Mass. Ave. in Harvard Square). The family's Harvard ties run deeper still: Leon’s brother Peter Palandjian, chairman and CEO of Intercontinental, is ’87, M.B.A. ’93, and their sibling Paul Palandjian is ’88, M.B.A. ’96.

After the transition from Lee to Palandjian, the Corporation’s membership will consist of President Bacow and two other higher-education leaders (the president of Amherst and president emerita of Princeton); three executives with experience at investment-management and finance enterprises; two former corporate senior executives; two former government executives with private-sector experience; two nonprofit executives; and a corporate litigator in private practice.

Read the University announcement here.

Read more articles by: John S. Rosenberg

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