Athens, 2 March 2010 - An article in the winter 2010 issue of Harvard Kennedy School Magazine entitled Supporting the Future of Public Service features special reporting on the principles and achievements of the Kokkalis Program at Harvard University and its commitment to promoting opportunities for leaders from Southeastern Europe to pursue a career in Public Service:
[While some students choose a career path on the local level, other HKS fellowship recipients hope to work on an international stage. Before applying to the Kennedy School, lawyer Iulia Cojocaru MPA 2011 had the opportunity to work for a government agency in her native country of Romania. Frustrated by the widespread corruption she encountered on the job, Cojocaru decided to pursue a master’s degree so that she could learn how to effect change in Romania through international channels. She applied for a prestigious Kokkalis Fellowship and was accepted. During her initial months at the school, she says, the Kokkalis Program and its staff welcomed her with open arms, providing her with much needed assistance as she adjusted to a new country. “For me, the Kokkalis Program was everything — they made my hopes and dreams come true,” she says. “Without the Kokkalis Fellowship I would not have been able to study in the United States. For students from southeastern Europe, it’s one of the few options we have.”
In addition to supporting students, the Kokkalis Program serves as a hub for education, research, and outreach activities related to southeastern Europe and neighboring regions. The program was founded in 1997 by Socrates Kokkalis, who serves as the chairman of Athens, Greece-based Intracom Holdings, one of the largest multinational groups in southeastern Europe. “It is very fulfilling to see bright young people meet their dreams and become able to help their countries and the region,” says Kokkalis. “We want to train those who can take on leadership initiatives and improve the lives of thousands or perhaps millions of others by promoting peace and cooperation, efficient and transparent governance, and market economy values.” Since the program began, it has sponsored 42 fellows and has trained nearly 250 public sector and nonprofit leaders from the region through Executive Education programs.
Another Kokkalis Fellow, George Saravelos MPA/ID 2010, has the distinct honor of having maintained the highest GPA of all first-year MPA/ID students at the Kennedy School. For him, the Kokkalis Fellowship has provided a solid education that is not only grounded in rigorous economic studies, but also steeped in practical public policy applications. The greatest benefit of being a Kokkalis Fellow, he says, has been being part of a cohesive group and community, while also engaging with prominent speakers, government officials, and heads of state.
“It’s been wonderful to be so close to public figures,” he says. “I’ve also received so much support from the program. I’m always invited to the center to learn about career opportunities, have policy discussions, and be involved in the process of inviting speakers.”
Contributing to the diversity of the student body, the Kokkalis Program draws from a region of Europe that is often underrepresented at the Kennedy School. In fact, since the program began, there’s been a dramatic rise in the number of students from southeastern Europe. The students return to their region or work on regional issues on an international level. “The vast majority of our fellows with a precious Harvard degree choose to go back to their countries and become part of the government or other public service institutions,” says Kokkalis. “That is what I find the most inspiring experience in the past 13 years since our program came to life, and I think this is where the Kennedy School is doing a wonderful job.” ]