Staff

Dan Balz, Senior Fellow
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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.

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Cassidy Bissell
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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.

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Nanda Chitre - John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum Director
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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.

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Finance and Administrative Coordinator

As a staff assistant at the Institute of Politics, Kerri runs the front desk and reception area, handles requests for room reservations, helps with events, directs incoming phone calls, and assists the director, executive director, fellows, and guests. Kerri holds an undergraduate degree in travel and hotel management. Prior to joining the IOP, she worked in guest relations and catering sales departments at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge for 10 years. Kerri is an active volunteer with the Boston chapters of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and The Jimmy Fund.

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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.

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Augusta Durham
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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.

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Celina Hollmichel
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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.

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Abbie James
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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.

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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.
 

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IOP Director

Mark Gearan became the 19th director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School on March 1, 2018. A leading voice at the intersection of education and public service, Mark has held numerous leadership roles in American politics, government, and education.  

From 1999-2017, Mark served as the President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS), becoming the longest-serving president in HWS history. During his tenure, Mark oversaw an era of unprecedented growth that included doubling the Colleges’ endowment, a capital plan which raised $205 million to support facilities, endowment and annual giving, establishing 168 new endowed scholarships, and the completion of 80 significant capital projects. Following his time at HWS, Mark held an appointment as President-in-residence at HGSE for the 2017-2018 academic year.

In September 1995, President Bill Clinton appointed Mark as the 14th Director of the Peace Corps, after serving in senior positions in the Clinton White House. While Director, Mark oversaw the expansion of the Peace Corps program into South Africa, India, and Haiti as well as the establishment of the Crisis Corps, which would send former Peace Corps volunteers into crisis areas for six months or less to help during emergencies.

President Clinton said of Gearan: “One of the best personnel decisions I have made as President was to appoint Mark Gearan as the Director of the Peace Corps. I believe he has been one of the most successful Directors since President Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961. He has rejuvenated the Peace Corps, and demonstrated a deep commitment to its legacy of service and the women and men who serve as Peace Corps volunteers. He can be proud that the Peace Corps will soon have more volunteers serving overseas than at any time in a generation."

Mark has served in a variety of roles in American politics and government including White House Communications Director, White House Deputy Chief of Staff, Vice Presidential Campaign Manager for Clinton/Gore ’92, Executive Director of the Democratic Governor’s Association, Headquarters Press Secretary for Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis’s 1988 presidential campaign, Chief of Staff for U.S. Representative Berkley Bedell of Iowa, and a reporter for the Fitchburg, Massachusetts Sentinel and Enterprise.

Mark’s first taste of politics came as an IOP intern in the Washington, DC office of Massachusetts’s Congressman Robert Drinan, S.J.

He is the Vice Chair for National and Public Service of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service; and is a past chair of the Board of Directors of both National Campus Compact and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Mark also sits on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Standing Committee for Public Service.

Born in Gardner, Massachusetts, Mark attended Gardner High School. He earned an A.B. in government cum laude at Harvard University in 1978 and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1991. He is the recipient of 13 honorary degrees. Mark is married to Mary Herlihy Gearan and they have two daughters, Madeleine, Harvard ‘15 and Kathleen, HWS ’21.

Follow Mark on Twitter at @MarkDGearan

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Executive Director

Setti D. Warren is the executive director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. Prior to this role, he served as the 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. 

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