The mission of HGSLI is to facilitate peer-led leadership development through experience-based education, unique shared experiences, and the forging of authentic bonds with graduate students across the different Harvard graduate schools. This mission is largely based on the practices and fundamentals of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), a global network of young chief executives that has approximately 21,000 members across 125 countries. YPO was founded on the basis that young, successful individuals face a unique set of challenges and experiences. Similarly, graduate students face particular obstacles that necessitate a type of leadership development specific to those unique experiences.
HGSLI was founded by graduate students at the Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School who felt that the current opportunities for authentic leadership development were missing a critical piece. A pilot with students from the Kennedy, Business, and Medical Schools occurred in Spring 2012, and the second cohort was recruited Harvard-wide in Fall 2012. Since that time, HGSLI has accrued approximately 390 alumni and is now housed in the Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and supported by the Harvard Business School Leadership Initiative. In Spring 2016, HGSLI alumni who were dual-degree students at both Harvard and MIT launched the MIT Graduate School Leadership Institute, which to date has had more than 160 participants.