Deborah Bial, Ed.M.’96, Ed.D.’04, founder and president of the Posse Foundation, will receive the 2013 Anne Roe Award from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dean Kathleen McCartney will present Bial with the award — which was established in 1979 to honor Anne Roe, the first woman tenured at Harvard and a leading researcher on career development and women — at an Askwith Forum on March 6.
“When I think about the amazing women who have been recipients of the Anne Roe Award in previous years, I am incredibly humbled and inspired,” Bial said. “Awards like these are so important because they call attention to the strides we are making toward equality and the leaders who help effect change.”
“As the founder and president of the Posse Foundation, Deborah Bial has worked tirelessly to increase college access for urban high school students. She has built an innovative program to recruit, identify, train, and support a diverse set of talented students,” McCartney said. “Posse’s results are impressive: thousands of Posse scholars have already graduated from the nation’s top colleges and universities and will strengthen our nation incalculably. I am delighted that the Anne Roe Award will honor Deborah for her ambitious vision to help these learners reach their highest potential. She is an extraordinary leader and social entrepreneur who inspires countless women educators across the country.”
The awards ceremony will be followed by a lecture in which Bial will discuss society’s need for fairness and justice. In addition, she’ll address the need for leaders to “stand as our new guard, ready to meet the challenges at our door.”
Bial founded the Posse in 1989, after a young man told her what could have prevented him from leaving college after only six months despite having a scholarship: “If I had my posse with me,” he said, “I never would have dropped out of college.”
Posse identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. It extends to these students the opportunity to pursue personal and academic excellence by placing them in supportive, multicultural teams — Posses — of 10 students. Posse partner colleges and universities award Posse Scholars four-year, full-tuition leadership scholarships.
Bial has grown The Posse Foundation from a concept into one of the most comprehensive college success and scholarship programs in the United States. Today it supports programs in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, and Washington D.C. — and has partnerships with 44 top colleges and universities. By 2020, The Posse Foundation will operate out of 10 cities and will boast 6,000 alumni throughout the United States.
Bial has received numerous awards including the MacArthur “Genius” Award in 2007 in which President Barack Obama cited her as an innovator. In 2010, Posse was among the 10 nonprofits with which the president declared he would share his Nobel Peace Prize.
Previous recipients of the Anne Roe Award include Marian Wright-Edelman, Sister Joel Read, Geeta Rao Gupta, and Gloria Steinem.