fbpx David Ellwood | Harvard Kennedy School
David Ellwood Photo
Isabelle and Scott Black Professor of Political Economy; Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor
Assistant: Edward Walker

David T. Ellwood, the Isabelle and Scott Black Professor of Political Economy, served as Dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government from July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2015. He began his appointment as Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy on July 1, 2016. He also serves as the chair of the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty.  

Ellwood joined the Harvard Kennedy School faculty in 1980 and served two separate terms as the School's Academic Dean.

In 1993, he was named Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) where he served as co-chair of President Clinton's Working Group on Welfare Reform, Family Support and Independence. At HHS, Ellwood played a key role in the Administration's development and implementation of critical social policy.

Recognized as one of the nation's leading scholars on poverty and welfare, Ellwood's work has been credited with significantly influencing public policy in the United States and abroad. A labor economist who also specializes in economic mobility, social policy, low pay and unemployment, and family change, his recent work leading the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, consists of 24 leading voices representing academia, practice, the faith community, philanthropy, and the private sector, whose mission is to consider what it would take to dramatically increase mobility from poverty.

Ellwood is the author of numerous books and articles, including Welfare Realities: From Rhetoric to Reform, co-authored with Mary Jo Bane. His book, Poor Support: Poverty in the American Family, was selected by the New York Times Book Review as one of the notable books of 1988 and by the Policy Studies Organization as the outstanding book of the year.

Ellwood was the recipient of the David N. Kershaw Award, given by the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management to outstanding individuals under the age of 40 who have made a distinguished contribution to the field of public policy. He also received the Morris and Edna Zale Award for Outstanding Distinction in Scholarship and Public Service from Stanford University.

Ellwood is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a Senior Research Affiliate of the National Poverty Center at University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. He serves on the Board of Directors of Abt Associates, the Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation, and is the incoming chair of the Board of Directors for the Schoodic Institute in Maine.

A native of Minnesota, Ellwood graduated from Harvard in 1975 and earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University in 1981.

Ellwood has been married for more than 35 years to his wife Marilyn. They love hiking, sea kayaking, and most outdoor activities. They have two daughters, Malinda and Andrea.




Phone: 617-495-1121
Assistant: Edward Walker


Social Policy
Fairness & Justice
Education, Training & Labor
Poverty, Inequality & Opportunity

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