Updated June 29, 2020

Harvard Kennedy School has announced a set of faculty appointments, promotions, and renewals for the new academic year. The following changes will be effective July 1:


New Faculty

Justin de Benedictis-Kessner, Assistant Professor

Justin de Benedictis-Kessner is a political scientist who conducts research on American politics, with a focus on political behavior, urban and local politics, and experimental and quantitative methodology. His current research focuses on how citizens hold elected officials accountable and how policy opinions are formed. Justin holds a PhD in Political Science from MIT and a BA from the College of William & Mary. He joins HKS from Boston University.


Yanilda González, Assistant Professor

Yanilda González is a political scientist whose research explores the consequences of violence and inequality for state capacity, democratic citizenship, and the relationship between citizens and state institutions in the Latin American context. Yanilda holds a PhD in Politics and Social Policy from Princeton University, a BA from New York University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Ash Center. She joins HKS from the University of Chicago.


Kimberlyn Leary, Lecturer

Kim Leary is a clinical psychologist whose scholarly work is centered on leadership, negotiation capacity, and large-scale systemic change. She is also engaged in policy initiatives focused on equity. She holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Michigan, an MPA from HKS, and an AB from Amherst College. She is jointly appointed as an associate professor at HMS and will be on a public service leave July 2020-June 2022.


Gautam Nair, Assistant Professor

Gautam Nair is a political scientist whose research focuses on the politics of democracy and redistribution. His teaching interests include comparative and international political economy, distributive politics, business-government relations, and the politics of South Asia. He holds a PhD in Political Science from Yale, an MA from the University of Chicago, and a BA from Colby College. He joins HKS from the University of Pennsylvania.


David Pedulla, Professor (by courtesy)

David Pedulla is a sociologist whose interests include race and gender stratification, labor markets, and economic and organizational sociology. His current research examines the consequences of nonstandard and precarious employment for workers' social and economic outcomes and the processes leading to race and gender labor market stratification. He holds a PhD in Sociology and Social Policy and an MA from Princeton as well as a BA from Boston College. He joins FAS from Stanford University.


Daniel Schneider, Professor

Danny Schneider is a sociologist whose research focuses on family demography, inequality, and precarious employment. He explores class and racial/ethnic inequality in marriage, cohabitation, fertility and parenting, household economic insecurity, and how workers and their families are affected by precarious employment.   He is co-director of The Shift Project. He holds a PhD in Sociology and Social Policy from Princeton University and a BA from Brown University. He joins HKS from the University of California, Berkeley.


Sandra Susan Smith, Professor

Sandra Susan Smith is a sociologist interested in urban poverty, racial inequality, and criminal justice. Her recent work examines how the front-end of criminal case processing contributes to the reproduction of racial and class inequalities. She will lead the Wiener Center’s Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management. Sandra holds a PhD and MA in Sociology from the University of Chicago and a BA from Columbia University. She joins HKS from the University of California Berkeley.


Latanya Sweeney, Professor of Practice

Latanya Sweeney is a computer scientist whose work examines the impact of technology on society (e.g., privacy, voting, testing and tracing). She was formerly the Chief Technology Officer at the FTC and will direct a new laboratory focused on public interest technology at HKS. She will have a joint appointment with FAS, and holds an ALB in Computer Science from Harvard, an SM in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT and a PhD in Computer Science from MIT.


Promoted or Renewed Faculty

Mark Fagan, Lecturer

Mark Fagan teaches courses on operations management and supply chain management. His work focuses on the role of regulation in competitive markets, and he has written about the deregulation of the railroad industry as well as the impact of electricity restructuring. He leads the Autonomous Vehicles Policy Initiative at the Taubman Center. Mark holds an MA in City and Regional Planning from Harvard and a BA from Bucknell University.


Kessely Hong, Senior Lecturer

Kessely Hong is the Faculty Chair of the MPA Programs and the MC-MPA Summer Program, and teaches in the areas of negotiation and decision-making in degree and executive education programs. She is dedicated to developing teaching materials on strategies to advance the interests of low-power parties, and to make progress in partisan legislative negotiations. Kessely holds a PhD in Public Policy and an MPA from Harvard Kennedy School, and an AB from Harvard. 


Timothy O’Brien, Lecturer

Tim O’Brien’s work focuses on the complex challenges people hope to address, the understanding they bring, and the meaning-making they need to work those challenges. In addition to teaching degree program courses on leadership and adult development, he is Faculty Chair of the Executive Education program Leadership for the 21st Century. Tim holds an Ed.D in Human Development & Education and Ed.M in Learning & Teaching from Harvard and a BS in Secondary Education from New York University.


Soroush Saghafian, Associate Professor

Soroush Saghafian is interested in using and developing operations research and management science techniques that can have significant public benefits. His teaching focuses on Machine Learning and related analytical tools for solving societal problems. He collaborates with hospitals on improving their operational efficiency, patient flow, decision-making, and healthcare delivery. He holds a PhD in Industrial and Operations Engineering and an MA in Mathematics from the University of Michigan.