Students in Service and Leadership at Harvard

The Story of Us

“PBHA strives for social justice. As a student-led organization, PBHA mobilizes volunteers in collaboration with Boston and Cambridge partners to address gaps in opportunities and resources. We develop student and community leadership to creatively meet critical needs and advocate for structural change. PBHA seeks to promote social awareness and community involvement at Harvard and beyond.”

The Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) is a student-led service organization founded in 1904 and comprises more than 85 programs, with over 1400 volunteers present day. Since its founding, PBHA has brought an increased focus on quality of programming through more formalized evaluations, training and reflections as the organization continues to serve as a space for students and communities to partner for social change.
These implementations are a reflection of PBHA mission and core values. The six core values of PBHA are:
  1. Love and Compassion
  2. Social Justice
  3. Community Building
  4. Stewardship
  5. Growth of People and Learning
  6. Diversity

PBHA provides both formal and informal opportunities for student development through workshops and training (“Train the Trainer”), formal leadership roles (program director), and informal opportunities arising from events and experience through time. The central leadership structure in PBHA consists of its: (1) Cabinet, (2) Student Officers, (3) Board of Trustees, and (4) PBHA Professional Staff.
  1. Cabinet: Composed of directors from each student program to oversee the policies and bylaws of PBHA. 
  2. Student Officers: 20 student officers are elected by Cabinet to focus on programmatic responsibilities. 
  3. Board of Trustees: Composed of 11 students, 10 non-students from the faculty, alumni, human service community, and representatives of Harvard University. The board holds the legal and fiduciary responsibility of PBHA.
  4. PBHA Professional Staff: The staff supports the students and is ultimately responsible for the organization's fiscal integrity, safety and liability, long-term community partnerships, and human resources
However, leadership opportunities goes beyond the central leadership structure as PBHA also consists of programs with their varying opportunities. Through the different programs, there are program directors and other roles depending on the purpose of the program. 

As PBHA continues to grow as an organization with an increasing number of student volunteers and community partners, it is crucial to reflect on the impact of both its formal and informal leadership development opportunities for students. Even as an organization may grow, its strengths remain grounded in the values, and thus it is important that PBHA is intentional about how they are meeting their values.

This led me to propose the research question: what is the impact of leadership development opportunities for students within PBHA? The research question seeks to reflect on the different perspectives of students on their experiences with the leadership development opportunities in PBHA. What has been successful, and what could be improved?

This page has paths:

This page references: