Alumni Spotlight: Chris Corcoran '07

Current Student President Jesse Shelburne '18 and former President Chris Corcoran '07

We love reconnecting with our IOP alumni! We turned the spotlight on our former students to find out where they are now, what inspires them to work in public service, and their advice for current students. Want to share your alumni story with us? Email our alumni coordinator.

Chris Corcoran
Graduating Class: '07, Student President
Current job: Most recently I worked as Senior Advisor to Lexington, KY Mayor Jim Gray. Now I'm back at Harvard as a JD / MBA 2021 candidate.
Location: Boston, MA

What do you remember as your favorite or most interesting IOP experience?

Serving as a liaison to Tom Newcomb (Spring 2005 IOP Fellow), a retired intelligence officer and FISA court attorney, was incredible. Tom's stories illustrated how dynamic, intellectual, and also valuable government service could be. Tom spent time getting to know all of his students, and the IOP could not have asked for a greater gentleman as a Fellow, I was privileged to get to know Tom.

What advice would you share with current IOP students?

Early in your career, the most important criteria in selecting a job is choosing your boss. I've had some brilliant, inspiring bosses that served as mentors in my career, helping to steer me to the right path, and continuing to support me to this day. You'll make your greatest contributions in an organization that values your service.

What was your first job out of college?

I worked as an Associate at the management consulting firm Katzenbach Partners. While my first two jobs were not in public service, they provided me with the professional and analytical skills that I would use to help drive innovative teams in municipal government. In addition, Opower (my second employer) demonstrated the amazing potential of private companies to make real differences in public policy, by using behavioral science and energy analytics to help to significantly reduce electricity consumption in hundreds of thousands of households, thereby abated fossil fuel emissions.  

What is the best part of your current job?

Though I'm currently a student (again), in the past five years, I worked as the Deputy Director of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Office of Data Analytics in New York, and then as a Senior Advisor to Jim Gray, the Mayor of Lexington, KY. I loved my time in municipal government, the government that is closest to the day-to-day life of its citizens. From roads and infrastructure to social support to economic development, Mayor's Offices help to respond to citizen concerns and set cities on growth paths for the future.

What motivated you to work in the public sector?

I've been privileged in my life to have some incredible opportunities, from attending Harvard College to studying at the IOP to working for some dynamic, interesting private companies. I recognize that I've been lucky, and I wanted to use my education and professional skills to improve the lives of others. Even though President Kennedy served more than 50 years ago, his call to government service continues to inspire my generation.

Chris moderated our 2006 Forum with Stephen Colbert. Watch the conversation here.