In 1988, Ronald Quincy (former Assistant to the President) submitted a proposal to Derek Bok (then University President) for a three-year pilot program to increase professionals’ from traditionally underrepresented groups access to employment opportunities in mid-to-senior level managerial positions at Harvard. The three-year pilot would provide the University an innovative way to increase the pool of talented professionals from diverse backgrounds while also providing program participants a unique opportunity to enhance their professional skills in academic administration. President Bok approved the proposal and the Office of the President funded the pilot program. Thus, the H-OAP launched its first AFP program in the Fall of 1989.

The period following AFP’s three-year pilot was marked by important changes in the University’s administration. These changes would strengthen both the University’s commitment to AFP and further elaborate the program’s reach. Significantly, two leadership changes occurred. First, Dr. Neil Rudenstine became the University President in 1991. As a hallmark of his leadership, President Rudenstine committed to deepening Harvard’s campaign to further understand and value workforce diversity. Second, in 1992 James S. Hoyte was appointed Assistant to the President/Associate Vice President.

The Office of the President solidified its commitment to AFP by institutionalizing AFP as an ongoing program. Of particular interest, AFP more consciously broadened its program applicant scope to include a broader cross section of racial and ethnic differences. As a consequence, there was more assertive outreach to people of Latino, Native, Asian and African descent  through strategic relationships, advertisements and other targeted recruitment efforts.

In 1993-94, a “resident fellows” program component was added to AFP to recognize existing administrative staff from historically underrepresented groups who demonstrated leadership potential. This component was designed to enhance professional development, talent management and networking opportunities for underrepresented professionals at Harvard. We see this as an important step to encourage these professionals’ career mobility and advancement. For “resident fellows,” AFP could be one of several important strategies for enhancing their opportunites.

In 2010, Dr. Lisa M. Coleman assumed leadership of the Office of the Assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity and Equity (name change 2012) and upon her appointment as Chief Diversity Officer/Special Assistant to the President reaffirmed the on-going commitment to AFP.