Members of the Yale SOM New York City Alumni Chapter gathered in Manhattan on November 3 to honor the 2022 winners of the chapter’s Leadership in Business and Society Award: Namrita Kapur ’97, a joint-degree graduate of Yale SOM and the Yale School of the Environment, and Andrea Levere ’83.
Kapur has had a long career in impact investing and philanthropy, at Adams, Harkness & Hill, Root Capital, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Eileen Rockefeller Family Foundation. She serves as a lecturer at Yale SOM and a resident fellow at the Yale Center for Business and the Environment.
Levere served as president of Prosperity Now, a national nonprofit that creates programs and advocates for policies to reduce wealth inequality, for 15 years; she is now president emerita. She is a fellow at Yale SOM’s Program on Social Enterprise, Innovation, and Impact.
Nik Khakee ’96, outgoing president of the New York City Alumni Chapter, presented the awards. He noted that the choice of honorees grew out of conversations with Professor Sharon Oster, Yale SOM’s former dean, who died earlier this year. “I asked Sharon for her guidance,” he said. “Andrea and Namrita were explicitly noted by Sharon as alumni she believed more than worthy of such recognition.”
“I can think of no higher accolade, in terms of being a member of the Yale SOM community,” he added, “than to be on Sharon’s top 10 list.”
Levere also evoked Oster’s memory in accepting the award. A pioneer as a woman professor and dean and in developing a rigorous curriculum on nonprofit management and philanthropy, she said, “Sharon was the rare leader who imagined a future that did not yet exist and then made it happen.”
Inspired by Oster’s example, she said, “my love for the balance sheet drove our strategy as [Prosperity Now] piloted initiatives to increase the assets of low-income and households of color. We created a field that is now scaling nationally… And everywhere I went, I met SOM alums hard at work, using their skills to create new solutions to enduring disparities. We were doing what Sharon taught us: creating a different future focused on building financial security and wealth for all.”
Kapur told her fellow alumni that “this honor is more a tribute to the SOM community and the mentorship and inspiration it has provided me over time—beginning with Sharon Oster and, early on, Ralph Earle ’84 and Ken Colburn ’78, and continuing with current students and recent alums.”
She recalled telling a prospective student, “The SOM network is a group of smart, innovative, passionate, and fun people. In short, these are your people. I thank the community for this wonderful honor, but, more importantly, I thank you for being my people!”
In his remarks, Dean Kerwin K. Charles thanked the alumni for their ongoing commitment to Yale SOM and its mission. “What a great occasion for which we gather,” he said. “We gather to honor two alums, Andrea and Namrita, whose careers wonderfully embody all that we are and wish to be. I am humbled when I hear their stories.”
He concluded with a toast to Oster, noting that the former dean was not only a great scholar and teacher, but a steward of Yale SOM’s distinctive approach. “Sharon helped remind the faculty always, often, and loudly about what it is that they were doing beyond writing papers and teaching school,” he said. “We were engaged, she would say, in this collective enterprise to do a special thing.”