Formerly known as the Alumni Achievement Award when it was established in 1997, the HKS Public Service Award is given to former Harvard students who made substantial difference for people, organizations, or governments through a single influential act or a series of steps that produced positive societal change. Nominations come from HKS alumni or HKS faculty. Self-nominations are discouraged.
Harvard’s decision to honor Mr. Konneh is supported by his efforts to sustain Liberia’s post-war economic growth in 2012 and 2013 with estimated real GDP growth of 8.9% and 8.7%. Following his appointment as Liberia’s first Minister of Finance and Development Planning in 2014, having previously served concurrently as Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs and Minister of Finance from January 2012 to June 2014, Mr. Konneh was pivotal in stabilizing the Liberian economy from the effects of the most recent effects of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak that almost brought the Liberian economy to its knees.
Under his leadership, the team at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning formulated a post-Ebola Economic Stabilization and Recovery plan that is currently being implemented by Government to achieve optimum impact for the last two years of the Johnson Sirleaf Administration. The Plan was an off-shot of the existing Agenda for Transformation (AfT) but incorporated additional programs and interventions to specifically address the impact of EVD on the economy and the population; and the commodity price shock that has affected two of Liberia's main commodities - iron ore and rubber.
Accepting the award Sunday, May 14, 2016, Mr. Konneh extolled the Harvard School of Government for honoring him.
Mr. Konneh especially thanked President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for watching and rooting for him, a role that helped to make him successful.
“I want to thank my President, who has been my mentor and who believed in me when many others doubted; to my colleagues in the Cabinet whose dynamism and commitment to public service made my time in Government productive; the staff at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. We made a good team, and I am honored to have been a part of their lives and their work,” he noted, adding he thanked the Liberian people for their cooperation, their resilience, and the hard work they have done to transform their own lives and the lives of their children. “They are my inspiration, and the reason that I wake up at 2am every morning. This award is for them!” he said.
Mr. Konneh serves as Manager of the World Bank Group's Global Fragility, Conflict and Violence (FCV) Hub in Nairobi, Kenya. He joined the Bank after nearly a decade of service with the Government of Liberia, most recently as Minister of Finance and Development Planning and National Coordinator of the Liberia Development Alliance from February 2012 to April 2016.