Employee Spotlight - Henry Kwan

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Friday, March 22, 2024

What is your current role at Yale University?

As Director for Shared Interest Groups at the Yale Alumni Association, I advise, work with, and strategically support the efforts of various alumni volunteers and mission-driven organizations that are contributing their time, talent, and connections for the betterment of the Yale community and beyond.  With the Yale alumni community currently numbering over 180,000 people, and represented by over 300 different volunteer-led groups, there’s always something interesting and significant happening.

Would you share some of your military experience and transition to the private sector?

After my first enlistment in the Army in a combat arms field, I worked in the financial services industry and then the tech sector.  Later, at the coaxing of a friend who was a sergeant-major in the Army, I returned to military service in a public affairs role.  It was during my second enlistment that I decided to pursue a graduate degree and apply to Yale.  I was on deployment in Eastern Europe when I learned that I had been accepted to a master’s program at Yale.  Upon my separation from the military, I matriculated in the program and two years later received my degree—in African Studies.  After a one-year research stint in the United Kingdom through the Yale Fox International Fellowship (established by alumnus and U.S. Navy veteran, Joseph Fox ’38), I landed my first position at the University, and have been here ever since.

How does your military experience impact your position at Yale?

Among the alumni groups that I work with is the Yale Veterans Association, which serves as a hub and connector for the estimated 10,000 veterans within the alumni population.  Having a military background makes it possible for me to communicate and collaborate more effectively with this community.  It’s been an honor to be able to meet and work with so many alumni veterans, who continue to serve and give back to Yale, their communities, and society at large, in many different ways.

Could you discuss some of the intangible skills that veterans like yourself bring to an organization?

Generally, I think the military does a great job in cultivating responsibility, initiative, and leadership.  It’s not uncommon for individual servicemembers to shoulder duties and responsibilities that are one, two, or more, pay grades above their rank.  In a military context, this is a necessity.  For organizations that recruit and hire veterans, this could be a fantastic competitive advantage, provided they know how to leverage and capitalize on this resource.

What do you think about the Yale Veterans Network?

Like the other staff affinity groups on campus, the Yale Veterans Network serves as an important mechanism for staff and faculty with military backgrounds to engage and connect with one another, as well as build a strong community.  Altogether, the affinity groups help create a welcoming and supportive environment on campus that makes it easier for Yale to recruit, retain, and develop highly competitive, diverse talent.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Thank you for the opportunity to share my story and experiences.

Photo of Henry Kwan

(Photo of Henry Kwan in uniform interacting with reporters and journalists while abroad on deployment).

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