Pride and Support

A record-breaking year

Northeastern’s leadership in rethinking higher education to meet a world of evolving challenges and opportunities inspires pride and generosity in our community of alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students, and friends.

  • $194.4M

    in gifts and pledges, 2020–2021

$100M to train a tech workforce

Northeastern’s Roux Institute, an innovation hub launched to expand the digital economy in Maine and beyond, received $100 million from the Harold Alfond Foundation. The gift provides financial aid for graduate students, funding for postdoctoral research, and support for students hired in monthslong co-ops by Maine employers. The institute offers certificate, master’s, doctoral, and postdoc programs in fields including artificial intelligence, digital engineering, and the advanced life sciences.

For first-generation immigrants like me, financial constraints are a barrier to higher education. With my Harold Alfond Foundation scholarship, I can focus on doing well in classes and embrace all the Roux Institute’s opportunities.

—Sylvia Guzman

Candidate for the MS in Project Management, Northeastern’s Roux Institute

$20M for social impact

The Burnes Family Center for Social Change and Innovation was established with a $20 million commitment from the late emerita trustee Nonnie Burnes, L’78, H’07, and her husband, Rick Burnes. Integrating education, research, experiential learning, and professional development, the center reflects Northeastern’s focus on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, and its multidisciplinary approach to solving global problems. The Burnes family’s gift builds on one they made in 1999 to create the Public Interest Law Scholars Program, which supports outstanding lawyers committed to social justice. Nonnie Burnes passed away in August 2021, shortly before the center’s launch.

To address complex and difficult legal and social problems, one has to be thoughtful, rigorous, imaginative, courageous, and tenacious. Don’t look at the challenges; look at the opportunities.

—Nonnie Burnes, L’78, H’07, LATE NORTHEASTERN TRUSTEE EMERITA

  • 17,857

    individual donors from 56 countries, including 6,167 first-time donors

  • 563

    corporations and foundations made gifts and pledges of $153.2 million

High-impact giving

Nurturing invention

Unlocking cellular mysteries

Cellular functions are controlled by proteins in a manner depending on the cell type, but why these proteins behave as they do remains a mystery. Through funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, The Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group awarded Northeastern Associate Professor Nikolai Slavov (left) a $1.5 million Allen Distinguished Investigator award to support efforts to track protein dynamics in single cells. This award targets fields within bioscience that are ripe for breakthroughs.

Partnering for COVID-19 testing and safety

During the past year, life sciences giant Thermo Fisher Scientific partnered with Northeastern to help keep students, faculty, and staff on the Boston campus safe. The partnership enabled the development and operation of a comprehensive testing center for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and tracking of the virus’s spread. In late April 2021, Northeastern’s state-of-the-art Life Sciences Testing Center, located at its Innovation Campus at Burlington, Massachusetts, conducted its millionth COVID-19 test.

In Egypt, healthcare for all

As a universal healthcare coverage law goes into effect in Egypt, Northeastern will be working with GlobeMed Egypt, a healthcare benefits management company, to study the rollout of this critical public health initiative. Professor Gary Young, director of Northeastern’s Center for Health Policy and Healthcare Research, will examine the private sector’s role in Egypt’s healthcare system. Northeastern parents Michel Pharaon PNT’19, PNT’25, co-creator of GlobeMed, and his wife, Frida Chammas, E’85, PNT’19, PNT’25, brokered the partnership and a gift of nearly $225,000 from the company to support the study.

Boosting women’s entrepreneurship

In spring 2021, Northeastern, the Cartier Women’s Initiative, and other corporate and individual donors established the Women Who Empower Innovator Awards. More than 150 applications for awards poured in from people representing Northeastern’s nine colleges and more than a dozen countries on five continents. A total of 19 venture creators, including Molly Beck, Gabrielle Whittle, and Emily Man, received 17 awards equaling $100,000 in one-time grants.

Our community united

  • 282,000+

    alumni live and work in 179 countries

  • 48

    Northeastern communities on four continents—Asia, Europe, North America, and South America

  • 9,600+

    participants from 145 countries engaged in 397 programs and events

A network for impact

Transformative changes in COVID’s wake

Nearly 300 alumni tuned in to Northeastern’s Beyond the Pandemic: COVID-19 series to explore the coronavirus’ impact on fields from biotechnology to the liberal arts. In a conversation about the evolution of design and architecture, School of Architecture Director Dan Adams, Assistant Professor of Architecture Sara Jensen Carr, and Associate Professor of Art + Design Kristian Kloeckl described Wi–Fi-equipped outdoor spaces where people can gather and work safely. From now on, they told listeners, more architects will be working remotely, virtually anywhere in the world.

Championing climate justice

Beyond its environmental implications, the climate crisis has highlighted profound social, racial, and economic inequities. Those injustices were the subject of a virtual talk last spring attended by nearly 130 alumni and featuring Northeastern Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs Jennie Stephens, Future Faculty Fellow Frances Roberts-Gregory, and Professor of Environmental Science and Public Policy Brian Helmuth. The panelists urged listeners to take responsibility for their own actions while also supporting public investment in climate-change mitigation projects to benefit their communities.

Creating social impact through the workplace

To end systemic racism, ordinary people must find their voices, said Paul Francisco, chief diversity officer and head of workforce development at State Street Corporation. Speaking at a Northeastern Black Law Student Association virtual event in February, he offered examples from his own experience: co-organizing a Black Lives Matter demonstration, building a network for professionals of color, and supporting business-based groups that push for change. Francisco raises money for the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund, led by Black and brown executives to promote inclusive business practices.

A call to support working parents

Noting the extra burdens that the pandemic has levied on working parents, Northeastern Associate Professor of Public Policy, Urban Affairs, and Economics Alicia Sasser Modestino called on employers to build better family support systems and offer remote-work options. Speaking at a spring webinar on COVID-19’s special impact on women and families, Modesto, director of research at Northeastern’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, said her survey of 2,500 working parents shows childcare is not just a family issue, but also a business one.

Problem-solvers

Kimberly Washington

A role model for Black physician-leaders

Kimberly Washington, AS’05, a biochemistry major, began making her mark in medicine as the first Black woman admitted into the residency program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine. Today she’s a surgical fellow at the Oregon Health & Science University specializing in liver and pancreatic procedures. She’s also co-hosting a podcast with her two sisters called “The Drs. Washington.” Together, they’re building an educational platform to highlight African American physicians who are making an impact on medicine.

Ben Kneppers

Sustainable solutionist

Ben Kneppers, E’07, a mechanical engineering major and entrepreneur, uses his sustainable mindset and engineering prowess to tackle one of the world’s largest pollution problems: fishing nets. As co-founder of Bureo, Kneppers and his team recycle plastic nets scavenged from the ocean with help from fishing crews and local residents into a sustainable material called NetPlus. They’re partnering with Patagonia, Humanscale, and other companies to create skateboards, sunglasses, brimmed hats, office furniture, surf fins, and other eco-friendly products.

Oye Owolewa

Pushing for statehood

Oye Owolewa, BHS’14, who majored in pharmacy at Northeastern, loves working with his community to create change. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Owolewa was on the vaccine frontlines helping provide information and resources to get Black people and their families vaccinated. After being elected to Congress as the U.S. shadow representative for the District of Columbia in November 2020, he has continued to advocate for his community by pushing for income equality in, and statehood for, D.C.

Alexandra Tarzikhan

Bringing Syrians’ struggle to light

Alexandra Tarzikhan, BHS’15, L’18, born in the U.S. and raised in Aleppo, Syria, understands the many advantages her American passport has afforded her compared to Syrians who are struggling to find safety and asylum in Europe. Now Tarzikhan is a Schuette Clinical Fellow in Health and Human Rights at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law in Chicago, supporting health and human rights projects in Lebanon, Nigeria, and Greece. She’s also bringing attention to the ongoing refugee crisis through social media. Tarzikhan uses Instagram to create informational posts, repost articles, profile refugee stories, and share ways to offer support and get involved through the feed and stories feature on Instagram @meetarefugee, raising awareness of human rights issues for her thousands of followers.

Evelyn Barahona

Supporting the Latino community

In May 2021, Evelyn Barahona, DMSB’99, was named the first director for the new philanthropic Latino Equity Fund, a collaboration among local Latino leaders, The Boston Foundation, and Hispanics in Philanthropy. When the COVID-19 pandemic began highlighting health and economic inequities, the fund’s advisory board expanded its focus to benefit Latino communities across Massachusetts. The LEF raises donations from community stakeholders and directs them to people in need. Barahona’s goal is to raise $10 million to reinvest in Latino businesses and organizations. She also serves on the board for Amplify Latinx, an organization that is expanding job opportunities for Latinos and strengthening their political clout.

Haig Haroutunian

Helping his country heal

Physical therapist Haig Haroutunian, BHS’18, set off from Boston in 2020 to his native Armenia after seeing news footage of injured Armenian soldiers. Before the new year, Haroutunian was helping Armenians recover from burns and shrapnel wounds incurred in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflicts at a 160-bed, government-run facility set up to help treat an overwhelming number of patients. Haroutunian aided those physically injured throughout the crisis, providing hands-on therapy, educating his patients about their injuries, and offering emotional support to them and their families. Several weeks later, Haroutunian returned to Boston to resume his work as a home-care physical therapist.