Class includes first transgender Fellow and former White House Press Secretary

Cambridge, MA – The Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School is pleased to announce additional Visiting Fellows for the 2017-18 academic year at

“Broadening the range and depth of opportunity for students to hear from and engage with experts, leaders and policy-shapers is a cornerstone of the Institute of Politics. We welcome the breadth of thought-provoking viewpoints on race, gender, politics and the media,” said Bill Delahunt, IOP Acting Director.

Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James, Jr. is serving his second term as Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri after entering the office in 2011. Accomplishments from his six years in office include deploying the nation’s largest SMART City technology, modernizing and expanding public transit including a downtown streetcar system, a 20 percent improvement in third grade reading proficiency, and a 20-year infrastructure repair package. James serves in a leadership capacity on various civic boards, as well as the African American Mayors Association and the National Conference of Democratic Mayors. Following his service in the Marines, James practiced law for nearly 30 years.

Chelsea E. Manning is a Washington D.C. based network security expert and former U.S. Army intelligence analyst. She speaks on the social, technological and economic ramifications of Artificial Intelligence through her op-ed columns for The Guardian and The New York Times. As a trans woman, she advocates for queer and transgender rights as @xychelsea on Twitter. Following her court martial conviction in 2013 for releasing confidential military and State Department documents, President Obama commuted her 35-year sentence, citing it as "disproportionate" to the penalties faced by other whistleblowers. She served seven years in prison.

Robby Mook joins the IOP and Harvard community as a Visiting Fellow and Resident Scholar at Kirkland House for the 2017-18 academic year. Mook, a CNN political commentator, is a nationally recognized campaign manager and strategist who ran the 2016 presidential campaign for Hillary Clinton. He is currently a Senior Fellow with the new bipartisan Defending Digital Democracy project at the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. The project, also co-sponsored by the IOP and the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, will identify and recommend strategies, tools and technology to protect the democratic process from cyber and information attacks.

Sean Spicer served as Press Secretary and Acting Communications Director for President Donald J. Trump during the first half of 2017. Before he joined the White House senior staff, he was communications director of the Republican National Committee from 2011 to 2017, and its chief strategist from 2015 to 2017. Spicer’s decades-long career in Republican politics includes multiple communications roles in the House of Representatives, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative and top advisor to presidential campaigns. He recently signed with Worldwide Speakers Group as a speaker on a range of topics including providing perspectives on the Trump administration, politics and conservative issues. A Rhode Island native and Connecticut College graduate, he also holds a master’s degree from the Naval War College and serves as a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. Spicer will engage with the Harvard community throughout the 2017-18 academic year.

These individuals join previously announced Visiting Fellows Guy Benson and Mary Katharine Ham, Gov. Steven Beshear, Cornell William Brooks, Corey Lewandowski, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski and Joe Slade White.

"This expanded group of Visiting Fellows will be able to fulfill the Institute's mission of engaging students in discourse on topical issues of today, including local politics with Mayor Sly James, election cybersecurity with Robby Mook, White House communications with Sean Spicer, and issues of LGBTQ identity in the military with Chelsea Manning. This unique opportunity to closely engage with our Visiting Fellows will surely shape the semester, and we hope many students will participate in the upcoming events and discussions," said Emily Hall and Jason Ge, co-chairs of the IOP Fellows and Study Groups Program.

The Visiting Fellows program brings distinguished veterans of public life to campus for a limited, yet comprehensive number of events. The program is designed to provide short-term engagement with the student community, particularly undergraduate students.

Read more about the program and see Fellows’ full biographies at the IOP website.


Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School (IOP) was established in 1966 as a memorial to President Kennedy. IOP’s mission is to unite and engage students, particularly undergraduates, with academics, politicians, activists, and policymakers on a non-partisan basis to inspire them to consider careers in politics and public service.  Institute strives to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the academic world and the world of politics and public affairs. More information is available online at the IOP website.


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