Timothy O'Brien Photo
Lecturer in Public Policy

Tim O’Brien is a Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School where he teaches Exercising Leadership and Developing People in degree programs and chairs the Leadership for the 21st Century and Art & Practice of Leadership Development executive programs. Tim designs and delivers leadership development programs for government, business, and non-profit organizations across the globe. His research interests focus on the complex challenges people hope to address, the understanding they bring, and the meaning-making they need to address those challenges. This lens on leadership development emphasizes self, group, and organizational awareness over content and discrete skills. How to develop and cultivate that self-awareness is the primary concern of Tim’s research. His teaching methods are experiential, collaborative, and reflective in nature and help participants develop the insight, inquiry, and purpose they need to meet the demands of the challenges they face. 

Before his appointment at HKS, Tim was a leadership consultant for INSEAD Business School’s Management Acceleration Program and faculty for the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Programs in Professional Education. Tim graduated from New York University and earned his Ed.D. in Human Development and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He earned his 100-ton captain's license directing sail-training programs aboard traditionally-rigged wooden schooners in the Atlantic and Caribbean. 

Executive Education Programs

Transparent Engagement 

Harvard Kennedy School is proud of its energetic involvement in the world. To better understand how to solve public problems by improving policy and leadership, we engage directly with policymakers, public leaders, governments, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses whose activities affect those problems. However, we recognize that such engagement can raise questions about perceived and potential conflicts of interest, so we disclose publicly the key professional activities of our faculty outside the Kennedy School. The activities disclosed below are for the most recent reporting period, as defined by University policy. Some may be paid, some may be unpaid, and others may be in exchange for expense reimbursement only.

Outside Professional Activities For Timothy O'Brien

Organization Relationship
Center for Leadership Poland Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
City of Boston Mayor's Office Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
KONU Employment
KONU Executive employment
Leadership Centre for Local Government Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Consulting
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation
United Nations Global Executive Leadership Initiative Consulting



Education, Training & Labor
Public Leadership & Management

HKS Affiliations

Mailing Address

Harvard Kennedy School
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138