Babson Announces Speakers for Commencement Celebrations

Babson’s May Commencement Speakers: Dr. Albert Bourla, Richelieu Dennis Jr. ’91, Carla A. Harris, and Jamie Siminoff ’99.
Babson College has announced the speakers for its two May Commencements: Dr. Albert Bourla (from left), Richelieu Dennis Jr. ’91, Carla A. Harris, and Jamie Siminoff ’99.

Babson College will come together this spring for a multifaceted Commencement experience culminating in four digital ceremonies celebrating the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020.

The College has announced the four events’ speakers and honorary degree recipients, a group of innovators, leaders, and entrepreneurs who will share their wisdom and insights with Babson’s newest graduates.

“We look forward to honoring these inspiring entrepreneurial leaders in May,” says Babson President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA ’92, PhD.

Richelieu Dennis Jr. ’91, founder of Sundial Brands and founder and chair of Essence Ventures, will speak at the 2020 undergraduate ceremony, and Carla A. Harris, vice chairman, managing director, and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley, will address the graduate ceremony.

For the 2021 ceremonies, Jamie Siminoff ’99, CEO, founder, and chief inventor of Ring, will address undergraduates, while Dr. Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, will speak at the Class of 2021 graduate ceremony.

All four Commencement speakers will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

The 2020 Commencement experience, which had to be postponed last year due to the pandemic, will be held on May 8. Class of 2021 Commencement celebration experiences will take place between mid-April and mid-May, with the digital ceremony on May 15. For more info, visit the Commencement website.

“Our goal is to create meaningful, enjoyable, and safe experiences that incorporate Babson moments and capture the unique spirit of our graduates and global community,” Spinelli says.

The Social Investor

Richelieu Dennis Jr. ’91
Richelieu Dennis Jr. ’91, founder of Sundial Brands and founder and chair of Essence Ventures

Richelieu Dennis is an entrepreneur, investor, and social commerce innovator. His passion for entrepreneurship and innovation traces to his family’s roots in Africa and is sustained by a mission to help underserved communities by advancing the philosophy of economic inclusion as a human right.

Dennis began his entrepreneurial journey at Babson and founded Sundial Brands upon graduating in 1991. In 2017, he negotiated the landmark acquisition of Sundial Brands by Unilever, and as part of the agreement, created a groundbreaking $100 million New Voices Fund to invest in and empower women of color entrepreneurs.

In addition to being a familiar face at the College and a member of the Babson Board of Trustees, Dennis is founder and chair of Essence Ventures, founder of New Voices Foundation, and founder and chair of the Social Mission Board.

The Financial Leader

Carla A. Harris
Carla A. Harris, vice chairman, managing director, and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley

Carla Harris is a vice chairman, managing director, and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley, where she drives client connectivity to enhance revenue generation across the firm. She previously led the Emerging Manager Platform, the equity capital markets effort for the consumer and retail industries, and was responsible for Equity Private Placements.

In her 30-year career, Harris has had extensive industry experiences in the technology, media, retail, telecommunications, transportation, industrial, and healthcare sectors. In August 2013, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the National Women’s Business Council.

Harris’s numerous professional accomplishments and accolades are complemented by unique artistic excellence. She released her fourth gospel album, “O This Is Christmas,” in 2020, and has sold out concerts at the Apollo Theater and Carnegie Hall.

The Inventor

Jamie Siminoff ’99
Jamie Siminoff ’99, CEO, founder, and chief inventor of Ring

A lifelong inventor and mission-driven entrepreneur, Jamie Siminoff created the world’s first Wi-Fi video doorbell while working in his garage in 2011. The doorbell, then called DoorBot, has since transformed into Ring, and under Siminoff’s direction has seen incredible success and growth.

Since its launch in 2013, Ring has helped millions create a ring of security around their homes and has made an impact on thousands of neighborhoods. In 2018, Amazon acquired Ring for $1 billion, and with the support of Amazon, Siminoff and Ring continue to innovate and remain at the cutting edge of home security.

Prior to Ring, Siminoff founded several successful ventures including PhoneTag, the world’s first voicemail-to-text company, and Unsubscribe.com, a service that helped email users clean commercial email from their inboxes.

The Science Innovator

Dr. Albert Bourla
Dr. Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer

As chairman and CEO of Pfizer, Dr. Albert Bourla is leading the company in its purpose: breakthroughs that change patients’ lives, with a focus on driving the scientific and commercial innovation needed to have a transformational impact on human health.

During his more than 25 years at Pfizer, Bourla has built a diverse and successful career, most recently serving as Pfizer’s chief operating officer and overseeing the company’s commercial strategy, manufacturing, and global product development functions.

Since the outset of COVID-19, organizations around the world have embraced the core tenets of entrepreneurial leadership: agility, resilience, problem solving. Pfizer, under Bourla’s leadership, epitomizes this shift and is inextricably linked to this historic moment, pivoting operations to lead the world in creating the first mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

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