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Journalist Mary Louise Kelly ’93 to Speak at Harvard Alumni Day

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Mary Louise Kelly ’93, the co-host of NPR’s flagship news program All Things Considered, will speak at the second annual Harvard Alumni Day event in June, the University announced Monday afternoon.

Kelly will deliver the keynote speech to Alumni Day attendees on June 2 from Harvard Yard, with the University livestreaming her address for those who cannot attend in-person. Kelly’s return to campus will also coincide with the 30th reunion celebrations for the Harvard College ​​Class of 1993.

The Harvard Alumni Association traditionally met annually on the afternoon of Commencement and Harvard College and Radcliffe class reunions were held over the following days. Under former HAA Executive Director Phillip W. Lovejoy, the University moved to separate Commencement from in-person annual alumni events in order to better accommodate the increasing size of Harvard’s graduating classes and alumni reunions.

Kelly told the Harvard Gazette, a University-run publication, that being selected to speak at Alumni Day was an “honor, obviously, and a pleasure” but also “a little daunting.”

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For Kelly, the opportunity also holds personal significance. She said her late father James P. “Jim” Kelly ’68 “never missed a reunion, and neither have I.”

“I think, ‘Well, Dad would be interested in what I have to say, so maybe his classmates and other alumni will too,’” she added.

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A prominent name in journalism, Kelly led the on-the-ground NPR team that was named as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2021 for its reporting in Iran. She has also received several other awards throughout her career, including the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award and a Gracie Award.

A former Eliot House resident, Kelly studied government and was a Crimson News editor during her time at the College. Since graduating, she has served as an alumni interviewer, held volunteer leadership positions in class reunion committees, and been nominated as a candidate for chief marshal in 2018 by her classmates.

University President Lawrence S. Bacow told the Harvard Gazette that Kelly is an “inspired choice” to speak at the Alumni Day Event.

“She has expanded the perspectives of countless people over decades of reporting in the United States and elsewhere. We are delighted to have enticed her away from her desk and back to Harvard,” Bacow said.

Allyson C. Mendenhall ’90, president of the Harvard Alumni Association, praised Kelly’s “spirit of intellectual curiosity.”

“Her reporting and on-air storytelling have touched the hearts and minds of countless people around the world — lending her a unique perspective to both the opportunities and challenges we all face as a global community,” Mendenhall said to the Gazette. “I know her words will resonate deeply with her fellow alumni and remind us just how powerful our impact can be.”

—Staff writer Miles J. Herszenhorn can be reached at miles.herszenhorn@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @MHerszenhorn.

—Staff writer Claire Yuan can be reached at claire.yuan@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @claireyuan33.

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