Rafael Carbonell became the Taubman Center executive director in August 2017, where he works to advance its mission to support public sector leaders in improving the governance of states, counties, metropolitan regions, and cities. His work at Harvard Kennedy School has included helping to launch and run an Autonomous Vehicles Policy Initiative to assist cities in developing policy recommendations for AVs, creating and teaching an Economic Development Seminar for students, and expanding experiential learning opportunities for students, such as Transition Term helping newly elected governors and mayors and their transition teams take office.
Rafael is a passionate mentor, advisor, and connector for students looking to be the next generation of public servants in state and local government. In May 2019, he received the “Sue Williamson Spirit Award,” which the student body awards to the staff member who most positively contributes to their HKS experience.
Rafael previously served as deputy director of the City of Boston’s Office of Business Development for seven years under two mayors. While there, he oversaw an $11M annual budget for the City’s business technical assistance programs and services, implemented a new small business innovation initiative, and led the development of the City’s first-ever small business strategic plan, which was unveiled by Mayor Marty Walsh in 2016.
Prior to that, Rafael was executive vice president in launching and running Thrive, the first regional economic development enterprise for the eight-county Madison, Wisconsin region. Rafael also previously served as director of regional economic development for the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, and as director of marketing and business development for Livra.com, a technology startup he helped launch in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is now one of Latin America’s largest online market research platforms.
Rafael holds a BS in marketing from Boston College, was a Ford Foundation Regional Sustainable Development Fellow, and is fluent in Spanish. He currently volunteers as a coach for Cambridge Youth Soccer and serves on the Board of Governors of The Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. Rafael grew up in a small-business household in Vermont, and lives with his wife, two children, and Wheaten Terrier in Cambridge.