Babson Commencement

Commencement 2020

Honorary Degree Recipients

On Saturday, May 8, Babson College will present honorary degrees to two inspiring entrepreneurial leaders as part of the Class of 2020 Commencement experience.

Richelieu Dennis ’91 and Carla Harris will each receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws, and will share their wisdom and insights with our 2020 graduates and the Babson community around the world.

2020 Undergraduate Honorary Degree Recipient and Speaker

Richelieu Dennis ’91, Sundial Brands

Richelieu Dennis ’91

Richelieu Dennis ’91 is the founder of Sundial Brands, the founder/chair of Essence Ventures, the founder of New Voices Fund and New Voices Foundation, and the founder/chair of the Social Mission Board. As an entrepreneur, investor, and social commerce innovator, Dennis has a passion for entrepreneurship and innovation that traces to his family’s roots in Africa and is sustained by a mission to serve underserved communities by advancing the philosophy of economic inclusion as a human right.

In 1991, upon graduating from Babson College and being unable to return to his native Liberia due to civil war, Dennis, joined by his mother, Mary Dennis, and best friend Nyema Tubman, founded Sundial Brands, the manufacturer behind top beauty and personal care brands SheaMoisture and Nubian Heritage. Dennis served as the company’s chair and CEO until December 2019 and set the vision for its Community Commerce purpose-driven business model and its success as the No. 1 natural hair and beauty company serving Black women and the larger multicultural and natural communities he coined as the New General Market.

In November 2017, Dennis architected a first-of-its-kind deal in the beauty and personal care industry when he negotiated the landmark acquisition of Sundial Brands by Unilever—one of the largest natural beauty/personal care deals in the U.S. and also the largest consumer products transaction by a majority Black-owned company. As part of this agreement, he created a groundbreaking $100 million New Voices Fund to invest in and empower women of color entrepreneurs. In addition, he founded the New Voices Foundation to provide support services for women of color entrepreneurs.

Dennis next created the Social Mission Board, partnering with Sundial and Unilever to scale Community Commerce across the global organization. In 2017, Richelieu founded Essence Ventures, an independent Black-owned consumer technology company focused on merging content, community, and commerce to create an ecosystem that meets the cultural and lifestyle needs of people of color.

Dennis has been named by OWN to its “SuperSoul 100” list celebrating 100 trailblazers using their power, vision, and life’s work to bring a higher level of consciousness and move the world forward. He also has been named one of the “Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company.

2020 Graduate Honorary Degree Recipient and Speaker

Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Managing Director, and Senior Client Advisor, Morgan Stanley

Carla Harris

Carla Harris is a vice chairman, managing director, and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley. She is responsible for increasing client connectivity and penetration to enhance revenue generation across the firm. She formerly headed 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.

For more than a decade, Harris was a senior member of the equity syndicate desk and executed such transactions as initial public offerings for UPS, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Ariba, Redback, the General Motors sub-IPO of Delphi Automotive, and the $3.2 billion common stock transaction for Immunex Corporation, one of the largest biotechnology common stock transactions in U.S. history. She was named to Fortune magazine’s list of “The 50 Most Powerful Black Executives in Corporate America,” Fortune’s Most Influential List, U.S. Bankers Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Finance (2009, 2010, 2011), Black Enterprise’s Top 75 Most Powerful Women in Business (2017), and “Top 75 African Americans on Wall Street,” and to Essence magazine’s list of “The 50 Women Who Are Shaping the World,” Ebony’s list of the Power 100 and “15 Corporate Women at the Top” and was named “Woman of the Year 2004” by the Harvard Black Men’s Forum and in 2011 by the Yale Black Men’s Forum.

Harris also is a singer who has sold out concerts at the Apollo Theater, and released her fourth gospel CD “O This Is Christmas” in 2020. She also has performed five sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall, two sold-out concerts at the Apollo Theatre, and is the author of Strategize to Win (2014) and Expect to Win (2009) (Hudson Press).

She earned her MBA from Harvard Business School, her AB in economics from Harvard University, and honorary doctorate degrees from Marymount Manhattan College, Bloomfield College, Jacksonville University, Simmons College, the College of New Rochelle, St. Thomas Aquinas College, Fisk University, Wake Forest University, and Felician University.