June 5, 2014 - Maggie Williams Named Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School

Embargoed For Release: 1 pm ET June 5, 2014
Media Contacts: Doug Gavel, 617-495-1115

Maggie Williams Named Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School

Cambridge, MA. – Maggie Williams, who has served in a variety of high-profile governmental, political and managerial leadership positions during more than 30 years in public service, has been named Director of the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), it was announced today. Williams will begin at the IOP this summer.  

“The IOP was created to inspire students to enter public service and politics—pursuits to which Maggie Williams has devoted most of her professional life,” said David T. Ellwood, Dean of HKS.  “She has used her academic training and her decades of political experience to help public and private leaders manage difficult challenges and effect change. We are excited to welcome her to Harvard Kennedy School.”

“Maggie’s political wisdom and her long record of mentoring and supporting young leaders—not only in politics but in many career fields—and the example she sets in fostering and sustaining relationships across the political spectrum make her the right leader for the IOP today,” said Ken Duberstein, chair of the IOP Senior Advisory Committee and former chief-of-staff to President Ronald Reagan.  “I look forward to working with her to help inspire the next generation of young Americans to answer the call to public service.”

Duberstein, along with Ellwood, HKS Academic Dean and Professor of Public Policy Iris Bohnet, and Elaine L. Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush and IOP Senior Advisory Committee member, comprised the IOP director selection committee.

Williams served in the administration of President William J. Clinton as assistant to the president and chief-of-staff to First Lady Hillary R. Clinton, and  also managed then-Senator Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential primary campaign in its final months. 

“President Kennedy said that the future of any nation could be measured by the prospects of its youth. The Institute of Politics was created to help ensure that our country would continue to flourish, led by generations of smart and caring leaders,” said Williams.  “It is an honor to be a part of the IOP community and to participate in the work of growing our nation’s leaders.”

During her distinguished career, Williams has also served as director of communications for the Children’s Defense Fund, media relations manager for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and chief-of-staff to President Clinton at the Clinton Foundation. She is currently a partner in Griffin Williams Critical Point Management, an organizational and communications consulting firm she co-founded with Dr. Patrick Griffin in 2005.

Williams holds an M.A. in communication philosophy from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in political science from Trinity College in Washington, D.C., where she received an honorary doctorate in 2009.

She is very familiar with the Kennedy School, having served as a Fellow at the Institute of Politics in 2005 and as a Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership in 2006.  In recent years Williams has also served on the IOP's Senior Advisory Committee.

As IOP director, Williams will succeed Trey Grayson, who has served in the role since January 2011. Grayson will be returning to his native Kentucky.

“We are grateful for Trey's dedicated service to the Kennedy School and the IOP over the past three and a half years,” said Ellwood. “His leadership helped move the Institute forward in areas of technology and new programming, advancing its mission of engaging young people in politics.”


The Institute of Politics, located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, was established in 1966 as a memorial to President Kennedy. The IOP’s mission is to unite and engage students, particularly undergraduates, with academics, politicians, activists, and policymakers on a non-partisan basis to inspire them to consider careers in politics and public service. The Institute strives to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the academic world and the world of politics and public affairs. More information is available online at www.iop.harvard.edu.