HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL takes on the most important public issues of the day—issues that affect communities and countries around the world. 

In the following pages, you can read about our efforts to address the existential challenge of climate change. We feature our faculty’s analysis of the many technical, political, and policy issues surrounding a global shift to clean energy, and we share our efforts to be greener on campus. Several of our alumni stories also address climate and the environment—from Jane Gilbert MPA 1994, who is apparently the world’s first chief heat officer in local government, to Julie Wormser MC/MPA 2008, who helps to protect the Mystic River watershed here in Massachusetts.

Beyond work on climate, clean energy, and the environment, we feature a range of stories about people of the Kennedy School who are changing the world for the better. One of these remarkable people is Athol Williams MC/MPA 2013. A poet, engineer, entrepreneur, and ethicist, he grew up in a township in apartheid-era South Africa, where he saw children in impoverished communities struggle to achieve literacy. He and his wife started an organization to provide books to children. He is also a whistleblower, speaking up against corruption he saw in his country. Another Kennedy School graduate whose work helps young people get ahead is Debra-Ellen Glickstein MC/MPA 2014. She created an organization to make a college education more affordable for all schoolchildren in New York. I hope you find Athol’s and Debra-Ellen’s stories—and the others in this issue of the magazine—as stirring as I did.

Let me close by noting that this is my last Dean’s Letter in HKS Magazine. I will step down as dean at the end of this academic year and become a regular member of the faculty. I look forward to focusing again on economic policy—but I also will miss being dean. It has been an honor to serve such a talented and dedicated community of policymakers, public leaders, and changemakers. I am grateful for all the ways you contribute to making our societies safer, freer, fairer, and more sustainably prosperous.


With my best wishes,

Dean Doug Elmendorf
Don K. Price Professor of Public Policy


Banner Image: Dean Doug Elmendorf at the final Dean’s Discussion of the fall semester that explored the impact of AI. Photo by Jessica Scranton