Three new trustees join Yale Corporation
The Yale Board of Trustees, formally referred to as the Yale Corporation, added three new members to its ranks on July 1, as three others departed.
Marisa Peryer, Contributing Photographer
The Yale Corporation welcomed three new trustees — Maryana Iskander LAW ’03, Gina Rosselli Boswell SOM ’89 and Neal Steven Wolin ’83 LAW ’88 — on July 1.
Members of the Yale Corporation are classified as either “alumni fellows” or “successor trustees.” The alumni fellow candidates are nominated by the Alumni Fellow Nominating committee and voted on by eligible alumni, while the successor trustees are selected by current Yale Corporation members.
Iskander, who is the CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation, was elected as an alumni fellow, while Boswell, the CEO of Bath & Body Works, Inc., and Wolin, the CEO of the international corporate advisory firm Brunswick Group, were both appointed as successor trustees.
The University’s 16 member Board of Trustees holds significant decision-making power, including over the appointment of the University’s next president — and other high-level administrators — as well as over the approval of the University’s budget.
Senior trustee Joshua Bekenstein ’80 called it “super exciting” for the three new trustees to join the Corporation and provide their input, suggestions and advice on decisions, including the selection of Yale’s next president.
“They’re three fantastic people with a variety of talents [and a] devotion to Yale, ” Bekenstein said. “My experience has been that every new trustee who has joined has added to the breadth of perspectives and vision that the other trustees try to bring to Yale, so we’re very excited to have them join.”
Who are the new trustees?
In the past, Yale alumni could gather signatures and petition to run against Committee-nominated candidates in the annual Yale Corporation Alumni Fellow Election. But in May 2021 the Corporation decided to scrap nearly 100 years of precedent, limiting the pool of potential trustees only to those nominated by the Committee. Following the announcement, Victor Ashe ’67 and Donald Glascoff ’67 filed a lawsuit against the University, which is set to go to trial in October.
In its most recent election, the Committee nominated Iskander and Lauren Tyler ’84, the head of human resources for assets and wealth management at JPMorgan Chase & Co. Iskander, who ultimately won the alumni fellow position, received a degree in sociology from Rice University, where she was also a Harry S. Truman Scholar. She attended the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar before matriculating at Yale Law School through the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, which supports graduate study for immigrants or children of immigrants.
She has worked to increase access to a Yale education throughout the African continent through her service on the President’s Council on International Activities. In 2018, she was awarded the Yale Law Women Alumni Achievement Award.
Iskander is also a member of the 2006 class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Global Leadership Network. She previously served as the CEO of a nonprofit that focused on building “African solutions” to tackle global youth unemployment. The nonprofit, called Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, received the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2019 under her leadership. She also served as the Chief Operating Officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America for six years, advisor to the President of Rice University from 2004 to 2006, as a law clerk on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and as an associate at Mckinsey & Company.
Born and raised in New Haven, Gina Rosselli Boswell — who currently resides in Columbus, Ohio and whose extended family is known for owning Pepe’s Pizzeria — served on the University Council, the advisory body to the President, from 2012 to 2021. She was the president of the advisory board for six years, helping to guide the University through the expansion of the residential college system and the transition of the Yale presidency when former Yale University President Richard Levin stepped down in 2013.
She received a degree in business administration from Boston University before attending the School of Management. Upon graduating from Yale, Boswell interviewed prospective students as a volunteer with the Alumni Schools Committee. Boswell, who is a second-generation immigrant, was also supportive of the launch of the shared interest group 1stGenYale.
Boswell has also served on the boards of ManpowerGroup, Wolverine Worldwide, ACCO Brands and Applebee’s International, Inc. and was formerly a senior executive at Unilever where she led businesses including TRESemmé. She has also held senior-level positions at Ford Motor Company and the Esteé Lauder Companies Inc.
In 2022, she was awarded the Yale Medal, the highest honor from the Yale Alumni Association. The Association has given the award to 346 alumni since 1950 who have exhibited “outstanding individual service to the University.”
Wolin, the only one of the three new trustees who attended Yale as an undergraduate, told the News that he hopes that his experiences as both an undergraduate and law student at the University, as well as his active involvement as an alumnus will serve him during his time as trustee. He also said that he hopes his experiences in both the public sector in government and in the private sector will do the same.
Wolin served as the deputy secretary and acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury following his time as president of The Hartford Financial Services Group. His government experience also includes his roles as deputy assistant and deputy counsel to the President for Economic Policy during the Obama administration, general counsel of the U.S. Treasury and member of the National Security Council staff at the White House during the Clinton administration.
Wolin, who as an undergraduate served as president of the Yale Political Union and was a first-year counselor, told the News that he hopes to take advantage of opportunities, both formal and informal, to engage with all the University’s “constituencies.” He said that he is “keen” to meet with and learn from students, faculty and staff.
“I hope to listen and learn,” he said. “And I hope that I can bring my background and experience to bear — working, of course, together with my fellow trustees to think about, how Yale can seize its big opportunities and address challenges that it faces or that higher education, more generally, faces going forward.”
Iskander and Boswell did not respond to requests for comment.
Students vie for change in the Yale Corporation
Naina Agrawal-Hardin ’25, a member of the Yale Endowment Justice Coalition, told the News that she hopes Iskander’s career translates into her “taking up the mantle” to divest from extractive institutions. Agrawal-Hardin added that she hopes Boswell’s ties to the Elm City bring attention to the ways in which the University has “failed to invest in New Haven for decades.”
She also told the News that there are a few issues she hopes the Corporation will “urgently” respond to, including a call to unseal meeting minutes and a commitment to hold at least one public listening session per year in order to increase interaction between Corporation members and the broader University community. Agrawal-Hardin also called on the Board of Trustees to release figures on the University’s investment in fossil fuels and other extractive industries as well as a plan to address January’s Yale College Council referendum to democratize the Corporation.
“The process by which these trustees were appointed was profoundly undemocratic after a year in which Yale students resoundingly called for democratization of the Board, and I’m not surprised that that call wasn’t heeded, but I am really disappointed,” Agrawal-Hardin said. “As for the trustees themselves, I can’t speak to their characters, yet, we’ve had very limited opportunity to see how they operate.”
Agrawal-Hardin, who was also involved a 2021 legal complaint alleging that the Corporation’s investment practices and choice of trustees violated state laws, said that she finds the departure of Charles W. Goodyear IV ’80, who was the former CEO of the Australian mining and metals company BHO Bilton and director of the Anadarko Petroleum Company, from the Corporation “exciting.”
However, she said that two other trustees still on the board — namely, William E. Kennard LAW ’81 who has served on the Board of Directors for the Duke Energy Corporation and Joshua Steiner ’87 who previously served as Chairman of the Board at Castleton Commodities International — exhibit conflicts of interest on whether or not Yale will invest its endowment in fossil fuels.
The University did not provide the News with a comment on potential conflicts of interest related to fossil fuel investments.
“We still have two other trustees who have had those conflicts of interest, and I’m hoping that that’s addressed and that they’re pressured by their new colleagues to be more transparent about that with the community,” Agrawal-Hardin said.
The addition of the three trustees comes with the departure of one alumni fellow and two successor trustees whose terms have ended.
The outgoing alumni fellow, Kathleen Walsh ’77 MPH ’79, is the secretary of health and human services for the state of Massachusetts and has completed six years on the board. The two departing successor trustees are Charles Goodyear ’80, the president of Goodyear Capital Corporation and Goodyear Investment Company, and E. John Rice Jr. ’88, the founder and CEO of Management Leadership for Tomorrow have each served 12 years.
Bekenstein told the News that he is “extremely grateful” to have worked alongside and learned from the former trustees.
“They devoted an enormous amount of time and effort to their roles, ” Bekestein said of the departing trustees. “Their wisdom and their guidance has been incredibly valuable and Yale and all its constituencies have benefited from the enormous efforts that they put forth to support Yale, and its current and its future. So I’m extremely grateful.”
The Yale Corporation is composed of 10 successor trustees who serve up to two six-year terms and six alumni fellows who serve one six-year term.
Correction, Oct. 4: A previous version of this article included a typo in one of Agrawal-Hardin’s quotes. It has now been fixed.