The 16th annual Yale Day of Service, taking place on May 11, 2024, brings members of the Yale alumni network together to support local communities all over the world. Championing this year’s efforts are two of Yale’s most esteemed alumni: Professor, historian, and Emmy and Peabody-Award winning filmmaker, Henry Louis Gates Jr. ’73, and Indra Nooyi ’80 MPPM, former Chair and CEO of PepsiCo.

Gates, a professor, prolific scholar, and pioneer of African and African American theories, with 58 honorary degrees and numerous prizes including the National Humanities Medal shares, “My wonderful years at Yale set the foundation for the life I’ve been blessed to enjoy since graduation. Yale not only nurtured me intellectually, but it also taught me that community building must be encouraged at all levels of our society.” 

“Skip” as he is known familiarly, has just released the 10th season of his PBS series, “Finding Your Roots.” The episodes reveal historical genealogy and genetic information to inform the ancestry of well-known public figures and celebrities. His work in television, film, and literature has worked to change the ways people understand cultural, historical, and racial identities in modern society.  

Related Video: Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s honorary co-chair introduction

Consistently a member of Forbes’ “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women,” a member of the “National Women’s Hall of Fame,” and a renowned business ethicist, Nooyi cites Yale’s commitment to humanity in her call to action: “It’s what Yale inculcated in me then that keeps me prioritizing service and giving back to communities in small and large ways over the past decades. It’s service that has allowed me to deepen my relationships with my classmates and the overall Yale community.” 

Nooyi designed PepsiCo’s pledge to global responsibility, “Performance with Purpose.” Working on the basis of Nooyi’s hallmark motto, “do well by doing good,” the program pledged to do what’s right for business by being responsive to the needs of the world, through sustainable growth initiatives such as making healthier and more nutritious products, limiting the company’s environmental footprint, and empowering associates and people in the communities PepsiCo serves.

Related Video: Indra Nooyi’s honorary co-chair introduction

Each Honorary co-chair asserts that coming together based on service to the community offers a benefit beyond measure. Nooyi states, “As one Yale – alumni, students, faculty, staff, and all our families and friends—let’s share the joy and enjoyment, let’s build social and professional commitments, let’s create relationships with our neighbors, all to make the world a better place.” Gates ends by saying, “Together with our wonderful university, we can help repair the world for everyone.” 

Day of Service alumni volunteer co-chair Cynthia Okechukwu ’08, ’13 JD shares, “Both Nooyi and Gates have been such trailblazers in their respective fields and are outstanding examples of what Yale alumni can achieve and inspire others to do. I’m excited about the impact they will have on Yale Day of Service and the Yalies who follow in their footsteps in the future.” As an alum from the same era as Nooyi and Gates, volunteer co-chair Jerry Henry ’80 MDiv notes, “Both Ms. Nooyi and Dr. Gates are passionate about the impact their Yale experiences continue to have on their lives and how those experiences influence their understanding of service. Importantly, their desire is for other Yalies to engage with one another in service as a model of furthering Yale’s mission to make this a better world.” 

 Yalies looking to get involved can visit the Yale Day of Service website to learn more about organizing and registering for projects on May 11 or any day that their community can gather.