Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor at Harvard Business School; Founding Chair and Founding Director of the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative

Millions of Cheers for William P. Alford

I’ve known Bill Alford casually for many years, perhaps stemming from the long-ago time that I was a Fellow in Law and Social Science at Harvard Law School. But I’ve really gotten to know Bill Alford in depth more recently, thanks to his enormous generosity in joining the faculty board of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative. On top of all the other things on his plate from his multiple roles at HLS, there he was saying Yes to more: teaching ALI Fellows about China, offering wise counsel to me and the other faculty leaders, and also becoming my dinner buddy for Chinese and other cuisine along with a mutual friend. He gave me a very special chance to contribute to his important work for Special Olympics, for which he not only offered board leadership but also befriended, mentored, and cheered for many of the SO athletes. And then there’s our shared love of our esteemed colleague and friend Charles Ogletree and shared sadness at his illness. In fact, another sign of Bill’s generosity is that he made time for all these personal gestures of friendship.

I can’t stop at three cheers for Bill, because there are so many dimensions to his impact on people and issues. He has touched millions of lives through his work for international students, his work on disability law, and his belief in the law as an instrument for perfecting the world. He is highly intellectual and knowledgeable and also intensely human–the essence of humanity in a world that needs more of it. He has touched me and countless others with his kindness, gentleness, humility, and caring.