Staff

Dan Balz
he/him/his
Senior Fellow

Dan Balz is chief correspondent at The Washington Post. He joined The Post in 1978 and has been involved in political coverage as a reporter or editor throughout his career. Before coming to The Post, he worked at National Journal magazine as a reporter and an editor and at the Philadelphia Inquirer. At The Post, he has reported on ten presidential campaigns. The first political convention he covered was the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968. He is the author of several books, including two bestsellers. He was born in Freeport, Ill., and served in the U.S. Army. He is married to Nancy Johnson Balz.

Cassidy Bissell
she/her/hers
Fellows and Study Groups Coordinator

Cassidy oversees planning and execution of the Fellows and Study Groups Program at the Institute of Politics. Prior to Harvard Kennedy School, Cassidy worked for political campaigns, nonprofits, and in community organizing. Born and raised on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Cassidy attended Boston University and graduated with dual degrees in political science and communications.

 Nanda Chitre
she/her/hers
Director of the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum

Nanda Chitre joined the Institute of Politics as director of the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum in 2020. Nanda has more than twenty years of experience working in the executive branch of the U.S. government, in national public policy and political campaigns, and as a consultant to foreign governments. She has also worked as a strategic advisor in the nonprofit sector, on film and television projects, and as a visiting university lecturer.

In both the Clinton and Obama administrations, Nanda was an on-the-record spokesperson. In the Obama administration, she served as the acting director of public affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice and as a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of State. At the White House, she was deputy assistant to the president and deputy press secretary to President Clinton. Previously, she was the assistant spokesperson for the State Department and the media coordinator for Secretary of State Warren Christopher’s overseas missions. In the nonprofit sector, she worked at the Center for American Progress, and she provided strategic communications planning advice to emerging democracies in Eastern Europe and Southern and East Africa through the National Democratic Institute. Nanda’s professional experience also includes work on the award-winning NBC series “The West Wing.” Most recently, Nanda designed and taught government communications courses at Tufts University. She received her B.A. in international relations and history from Tufts University and a J.D. from American University in Washington, D.C.

Kerri Collins
she/her/hers
Finance and Administrative Coordinator

Kerri first joined the Institute of Politics as a receptionist and staff assistant in October 1999, coming to the Kennedy School with over ten years of experience in hospitality management with Interstate Hotel properties. As finance and administrative coordinator, Kerri works closely with the IOP finance manager, program leads, fellows, and students on day-to-day finance tasks including invoice payments, billing, reconciliation, and reporting. Kerri also onboards new members of staff and works closely with the JFK Jr. Forum on event management. Kerri is born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

John Della Volpe
he/him/his
Director of Polling

John Della Volpe is the director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, and the author of Fight: How Gen Z is Channeling Their Fear and Passion to Save America (St. Martin's Press, January 2022). The Washington Post referred to John as one of the world’s leading authorities on global sentiment, opinion, and influence, especially among young Americans and in the age of digital and social media. While John's research focus at the IOP is exclusively young Americans, he often collaborates with other HKS centers including the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. In 2008, John received an Eisenhower Fellowship for which he traveled extensively throughout China, Hong Kong, and Korea (including a supervised day in North Korea) studying Millennials; in 2011, he was appointed to the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission on Media. John is also founder of SocialSphere, a Cambridge based public opinion and analytics company. He serves on the Board of Trustees of iCatholic Media, the Ad Club of Boston, and is a member of the Global Alumni Council for Eisenhower Fellowships. John appears regularly on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and his insights on the Millennial generation are found in national media outlets in the U.S. and abroad, including the Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

Augusta Durham
she/her/hers
Events and Outreach Coordinator

Augusta Durham joined the Institute of Politics in January 2022. She is originally from Virginia and graduated from the University of Virginia in 2019 where she double majored in women, gender and sexuality, global development studies, and minored in African American studies. Prior to joining Harvard Kennedy School, Augusta worked as a finance associate on the Sara Gideon for Maine political campaign. She has also been involved with several non-profits that work to eradicate power-based violence.

Celina Hollmichel
she/her/hers
Administrative Coordinator

Celina joined the Institute of Politics in July 2022. She is originally from Germany and graduated from Harvard College in 2022 with a joint degree in government and East Asian studies. Prior to joining Harvard Kennedy School, Celina worked as a student advisor for the Office of International Education at Harvard. She has also been involved with the European Youth Parliament and held various leadership roles in the international student society at Harvard College. As administrative coordinator at the IOP, Celina assists the executive team and provides logistical support for the daily workings of the Institute.

Abbie James
she/her/hers
Director of Student Programs

Abbie has directed student programs at the Institute of Politics since January 2022. Abbie first joined the IOP in 2015, working first as a staff assistant to the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum and then as fellowships and study groups coordinator. Prior to joining the IOP, Abbie worked as New Hampshire Scheduler for Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). A native of Needham, MA, she is a graduate of Saint Anselm College and holds a degree in politics.

Sawyer Maher
he/him/his
Fellows Program and Internships and Career Services Program Assistant
Sawyer joined the Institute of Politics in September 2021. He is originally from New York and graduated from Boston College in 2019 with a degree in political science. Prior to joining Harvard Kennedy School, Sawyer worked on numerous political campaigns including the 2020 presidential campaign of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). He has also been involved with multiple programs assisting new U.S. residents preparing to become citizens. As a staff assistant to the Fellows Program and Internships and Career Services team, Sawyer provides logistical support for the fellows during their time at the IOP and helps implement the various programs related to ICS.
 
Lauren Miller
she/her/hers
Director of Communications

Lauren joined the Institute of Politics as communications director in August 2021. For nearly a decade, Lauren served as senior advisor and digital director to Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on her Senate campaigns and in her Capitol Hill office, building her digital program from scratch, overseeing much of her broader communications and outreach work, and helping her become one of the strongest voices in the Democratic Party.

Lauren also served as a senior director at Bully Pulpit Interactive, where she most notably led BPI’s work on Labor Secretary Marty Walsh’s first mayoral campaign in Boston and served as the campaign’s digital director. Prior to joining the 2012 Warren campaign, Lauren was a senior strategist, director of online communications, and one of the earliest employees at Blue State Digital, the groundbreaking BarackObama.com technology and consulting firm. A proud Californian, Lauren received a B.A. in political science from UCLA.

Cathey Park
she/her/hers
Conferences and Special Projects Manager

Cathey Park joined the Institute of Politics in 2004 and currently manages the Conferences and Special Projects portfolio. She oversees all signature IOP seminars, including Newly Elected Mayors, Newly Elected Members of Congress, and the Presidential Campaign Managers Conference. Cathey works collaboratively with students on a wide variety of special projects and events. She also partners with the John F. Kennedy Library on the New Frontiers Award. Cathey has been involved with many IOP programs, including Fellows and Study Groups, Women’s Initiative in Leadership (WIL), and most recently the JFK Jr. Forum. Before joining the IOP, Cathey worked for former Harvard Kennedy School Dean Joseph S. Nye, Jr. Cathey was born in Seoul, South Korea, raised in Portland, Oregon, and received her B.A. in political science from Boston University.

Kimberly Peeples
she/her/hers
Finance Manager

Kimberly joined the Institute of Politics as finance manager in August 2021. Kimberly comes to the Kennedy School with over thirteen years of research administration financial background. Prior to this role, she served as senior financial officer at the Computer Science Artificial Intelligence Lab, one of the largest labs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

As finance manager, Kimberly will oversee all financial management of the organization while supporting the strategic mission of the Center, which includes managing IOP program budgets and other functional operations. Kimberly attended Fisher College and was born and raised in the Boston area.

James Rasaiah
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Digital Content Specialist

James joined the Institute of Politics as a digital content specialist in September 2021. His portfolio includes managing the Institute's newsletters, web assets, and social media channels, in addition to publishing original multimedia content that supports the IOP's mission and broader communications strategy. James joins the IOP having previously managed the democratic governance program at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

Outside of Harvard University, James has contributed to the digital operations of a number of political campaigns at the local, state, and national level. A native of the United Kingdom, he holds a master's degree in post-war recovery studies from the University of York, a bachelor's degree in international relations from the University of Birmingham, and has previously worked in Thailand, Kosovo, and Iraq conducting field research pertaining to conflict, internal displacement, and governance.

Setti Warren
he/him/his
Interim Director

Setti D. Warren is the interim director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. Prior to this role, he served as executive director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. He previously served as mayor of Newton, Massachusetts from 2010 to 2018 and was the first African American to be a popularly elected mayor in Massachusetts. Warren has had an extensive career in public service, serving as special assistant in the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs for President Bill Clinton; as New England director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and as deputy state director for Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA). Prior to running for mayor, Warren completed a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq as a naval intelligence specialist. He served on the advisory board of the United States Conference of Mayors, chairing the organization's community housing and development committee, and is currently a life member of The Council on Foreign Relations. Warren received his B.A. from Boston College and J.D. from Suffolk University Law School.

Office hours with the interim director take place every Wednesday from 12:00-2:00 PM, and Friday from 1:00-3:00 PM. Students interested in booking office hours with Setti can do so by contacting Celina Hollmichel at chollmichel@hks.harvard.edu.