A message from Dean Douglas Elmendorf

To the Faculty, Staff, Fellows, and Students of Harvard Kennedy School,

Wendy Sherman has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be Deputy Secretary of State, taking her away from her roles as a Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and the Director of the Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership. In the nearly two and a half years that Wendy was at the Kennedy School, she advanced the mission of the School and helped to strengthen public leadership in many crucial ways.

As a Professor, Wendy played a key part in creating and teaching a new MPP core course, Policy Design and Delivery, and was an active participant in discussions of faculty appointments and promotions. As the Director of the Center for Public Leadership, she worked tirelessly to support the many students who receive fellowships through the Center, and she engaged our leadership faculty in more active collaboration with each other—including by arranging a renovation of the physical space in which the Center is housed. We are so fortunate that Wendy belonged to the Kennedy School community, and we will miss her very much.

To fill the breadth of roles that Wendy played, we plan to move to a Co-Director model for the Center for Public Leadership, pairing one of our long-time faculty members with a distinguished practitioner of public leadership. I am delighted to announce now that Hannah Riley Bowles has agreed to become Co-Director of the Center for Public Leadership as we search for a Professor of Practice to serve as Co-Director with Hannah.

The Center for Public Leadership aims, in its own words, to “integrate academic preparation with practice to build the knowledge and character required to make positive change in the world.” Accordingly, I believe that the Center can be most effective in the years ahead with a leadership team that combines scholarly expertise related to the development of diverse public leaders with high-level experience in the demanding practice of public leadership. This view has been strongly reinforced by the many conversations I have had with students, alumni, faculty, and staff of the Center, as well as with external observers of the Center. Our search for distinguished practitioners of public leadership several years ago brought us Arthur Brooks and Cornell William Brooks as well as Wendy, and I expect that a new search now will strengthen our faculty further. 

Hannah is the Roy E. Larsen Senior Lecturer in Public Policy and Management. As Chair of our Management, Leadership, and Decision Sciences Area, she has worked closely for many years with the leadership and faculty of the Center for Public Leadership. In recent years, she and Iris Bohnet have created a successful Co-Director model for our Women and Public Policy Program. Hannah will continue as Chair of the MLD Area and as Co-Director of WAPPP. She is an alumna of the Kennedy School and holds a doctorate from Harvard Business School.

Hannah is a leading expert on gender in negotiation and women’s leadership advancement. She has won multiple awards for her research and teaching. Her gender-related research and contributions to women’s leadership development have been featured widely in major news media in the United States and internationally. In 2002, Hannah founded the Kennedy School’s first on-campus Executive Education program on women’s leadership, called “Women and Power.” This year, she is launching “Women Leading Change,” an evidence-based, multi-month, online Executive Education program to support women’s leadership advancement.

I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation and gratitude to Ken Himmelman, the Executive Director of the Center for Public Leadership, and to all of the extraordinary staff members on the Center’s team. This group has played, and continues to play, a critical role in enhancing the Kennedy School experience of many students and in supporting the work of faculty members. I offer them my profound thanks for all they do.

Please join me in congratulating Hannah and thanking her for serving in this new way!

Best wishes,