Cambridge, MA—Deval L. Patrick, former two-term governor of Massachusetts, will join Harvard Kennedy School in February 2022 as a professor of the practice of public leadership and as co-director of the School’s Center for Public Leadership (CPL), Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf announced today. He will be starting at the Kennedy School next week.

Patrick served as governor from 2007 to 2015; he was the Commonwealth’s first Black governor, and one of only two Black governors elected in the United States. Prior to his career in government, Patrick—who is a Harvard College and Harvard Law School graduate—practiced as an attorney and business executive. He served as a staff attorney at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, a partner at two Boston law firms, and an executive in two Fortune 50 companies. From 1994 to 1997, Patrick served as assistant attorney general for civil rights—the U.S. government’s top civil rights position—appointed by President Bill Clinton.

“I am thrilled that Governor Patrick will be joining Harvard Kennedy School,” said Elmendorf. “With his deep and varied experience as a public leader and his important work as a civil rights advocate, Patrick will be a distinguished member of our practitioner faculty. I am delighted he will teach our students who strive to grow as principled and effective public leaders.”

Patrick will teach the practice of public leadership at the Kennedy School and will co-direct the School’s Center for Public Leadership with Hannah Riley Bowles, the Roy E. Larsen Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management. The Center for Public Leadership prepares students for careers in public leadership through teaching, mentorship, and practical experience. “This co-director structure,” Elmendorf said, “combines a long-time faculty member’s scholarly expertise on the development of public leaders with an eminent practitioner’s experience in the demanding practice of public leadership.”

“I am honored and overjoyed to have this opportunity to partner with Governor Patrick in leading CPL,” said Bowles. “Our students will benefit tremendously by learning from him as role model and from his depth of experience with thorny and meaningful leadership challenges. I look forward to working together to advance the mission of CPL, in collaboration with our extraordinary community of inspiring students, distinguished leaders in practice, skilled staff, and esteemed faculty colleagues.”

“It’s an honor to join this distinguished faculty and an exciting opportunity to help lead the Center for Public Leadership,” said Patrick. “With the scale and scope of the challenges facing humankind, the world needs conscientious, dedicated leaders at every level in every sector, people willing to spend their ‘political’ capital, not just accumulate it. I am looking forward to working alongside and encouraging leaders like that at the Kennedy School.”

Patrick was raised on the South Side of Chicago and came to Massachusetts as a teenager when he was awarded a scholarship to Milton Academy through the Boston-based organization A Better Chance. He graduated from Harvard College in 1978, and from Harvard Law School in 1982. He is a Rockefeller Fellow, a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute, and the recipient of 20 honorary degrees. After his service as governor, Patrick founded a ground-breaking impact investment fund at Bain Capital. As co-chair of American Bridge 21st Century, he remains engaged in grassroots political organizing through its BridgeTogether initiative, which supports local organizing efforts to engage disenfranchised and marginalized voters. He also chairs the advisory board of Our Generation Speaks, a Boston-based incubator for Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs. His memoir, A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life, was published in 2011.

Media Contacts

Sofiya Cabalquinto
HKS Chief Communications Officer

James Smith
HKS Director of Media Relations

Lael Harris
Director, Communications and Events, Center for Public Leadership