HKS students, alumni bid farewell to one of their own

 

By Chrissie Long, Staff Writer

The HKS community is in mourning after the sudden death of a recent graduate. Mariana Filgueira Risso (MPA’13), who many classmates wagered would be president of her native Argentina someday, passed away Sunday, Dec. 8.

Since news of her passing reached the HKS community, messages flooded in from around the world about her life and what she meant to her classmates (some of them are excerpted here):

Rizwan Tufail, a Mason Fellow who is now working as an entrepreneur in residence at the Harvard iLab, wrote, “What impressed me the most was her deep commitment to her country, and to leaving this world a better place; her departure has increased the workload for all of us who dream of a better – more just – world.”

Divya Dhar, a joint degree with The Wharton School, wrote, “Mariana: you were one of those unique souls that walked this planet knowing it could be so much more. You had a touch that was gentle and genuine, and made those of us just getting to know you form an instant connection.”

Filgueira was a psychiatrist in Argentina before enrolling in the Kennedy School in 2011. Her husband, Francisco Lanus, joined her a year later when he was accepted as a Mason Fellow. While in Cambridge, she served as President of the Argentine Student Society, member of the Latin American Caucus, editor of the Latin American Policy Journal and course assistant to Professors Steve Jarding and Ronald Heifetz.

Her classmates remember her as thoughtful, generous, energetic, loving and inspirational. For many, she embodied the spirit of the Kennedy School.

“No matter how busy she was, she would make time for people – because she cared. No matter how stressed she was, she would de-stress others – because she cared! No matter how overworked she was, she would stop by, smile, and listen to you – because she cared,” wrote Gazal Kalra, an MPA student and joint-degree with Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Filgueira graduated in 2013 and took a job in health services in the Buenos Aires city government.

According to news reports in Argentina, Filgueira was on her way to meet a friend for dinner on a motorcycle when she was involved in an accident with a public bus. Even in death she gave, her friends wrote, as organ donations helped save seven lives.

Friends are creating a foundation in her memory. For more information, e-mail Juliana Uribe at julianauribevillegas@gmail.com.

 

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