A message from Dean Douglas Elmendorf
I am saddened to announce the passing of Dan Fenn, a long-time member of the Harvard community who taught in the HKS Executive Education program for more than 40 years.
Dan demonstrated a profound and enduring commitment to public service. He helped Eleanor Roosevelt create the World Affairs Council and was a staff assistant for President John F. Kennedy, working on his campaign and on projects in Massachusetts. Dan was a devoted member of the Greater Boston community and founding director of the JFK Presidential Library and Museum.
Dan served Harvard for more than 75 years, including as the longest-serving class secretary and former president of the Association of Harvard College Class Secretaries and Treasurers. He was honored in 2019 with the Harvard Medal, which recognizes extraordinary service to the University.
At the Kennedy School, we remember Dan fondly as a superb and beloved teacher in executive education. He hosted weekend bus trips to Lexington and Concord, during which he would stand on Lexington Green in Revolutionary War regalia, recite Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," and shoot a musket. Deb Iles, senior associate dean for executive education, says, "I have never seen anyone who was better at re-igniting a passion for public service in the mid-career executives who come through our classrooms." And Kristi Viola, executive director of program management for executive education, recalls, "Dan's encouragement of thoughtful, strategic, and holistic approaches to one's role in helping define the public interest will be forever remembered by all those that had the privilege of sharing a learning experience with him."
Dan will be deeply missed by his many Harvard colleagues and friends, as well as by the generations of participants in our executive education classes whom he taught and inspired.
Douglas W. Elmendorf
Dean and Don K. Price Professor of Public Policy