Why Was Boston Strong?

On April 3, 2014, a team of faculty and researchers representing Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Law School released a white paper, Why Was Boston Strong? Lessons from the Boston Marathon Bombing.

The paper built on an expert dialogue that took place March 13 and 14, 2014, at Harvard Kennedy School. This dialogue, Why Was Boston Strong?, explored lessons learned from the Boston Marathon bombings of April 2013. Featuring a series of panel presentations and group discussions, the invitation-only, off-the-record gathering provided participants with a unique opportunity to candidly discuss the challenges of planning and preparing for large-scale, high-profile events.

Participants included local, state, and federal officials involved in the week-long response to the bombings; senior practitioners from the fields of emergency management, public safety, and law enforcement; organizers of major "fixed" events (e.g., sporting contests, political conventions); and leading scholars of emergency management, crisis leadership, and homeland security.

The conference co-chairs were:

  • Herman B. "Dutch" Leonard, Faculty Co-Director, Program on Crisis Leadership; George F. Baker Jr. Professor of Public Management, Harvard Kennedy School; and Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
  • Arnold M. Howitt, Faculty Co-Director, Program on Crisis Leadership; and Executive Director, Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Christine M. Cole, Executive Director, Program in Criminal Justice Policy & Management, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Philip B. Heymann, James Barr Ames Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Dates, Location, and Agenda

Thursday, March 13 - Friday, March 14, 2014

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

To view the conference agenda, please click here.


Why Was Boston Strong? was organized by affiliates of Harvard Business School, Harvard Law School, and the following units of Harvard Kennedy School: the Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, the Program in Criminal Justice Policy & Management, the Program on Crisis Leadership, and the Taubman Center for State and Local Government.


For more information on the conference, email David Giles.

Edward Deveau, Police Chief, Watertown, MA, speaks during a panel discussion. Photo credit: Tony Rinaldo

Major Eric DiNoto, Massachusetts National Guard, and Director, Homeland Security Institute, makes a point during group discussion. Photo credit: Tony Rinaldo