January 7, 2011 - Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson Named Director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics


For Immediate Release: January 7, 2011
Media Contacts: Doug Gavel, 617-495-1115

Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson Named Director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics

Cambridge, MA. – Trey Grayson, who is completing his second term as Secretary of State in Kentucky, has been named Director of the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard University, it was announced today. Grayson will assume his post on January 31.

Grayson has garnered praise as one of the nation’s top new political leaders and a “rising star.” He was first elected as Kentucky’s Secretary of State in 2003 and then re-elected by a wide margin in 2007. He is prohibited by state term limits from running for a third term. Grayson launched a bid for the open U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky in 2010, but was defeated in the Republican primary election.

During his time in office, Grayson established nationally acclaimed programs in elections, civic education, business services, and government innovation. Among other successes, Grayson enhanced Kentucky’s election laws through the passage of several legislative packages; led a multi-agency effort to improve civics education in the classroom; reduced office operating expenses by 15 percent; and developed an award-winning website with dozens of new online election and business services.

Prior to serving in public office Grayson was a practicing attorney in Kentucky and Ohio.

Grayson earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard College in 1994, serving as the vice chair of the IOP Student Advisory Committee. He earned a law degree and an MBA from the University of Kentucky in 1998.

Grayson is past president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, where he co-chaired the presidential primaries sub-committee for several years and became nationally recognized as an expert on presidential primary reform.  He also served as a delegate at the Republican National Convention in 2004 and 2008, and was a member of the 2008 party platform committee. Grayson currently serves as a member of the IOP Senior Advisory Committee. 

“Trey Grayson is a very accomplished and distinguished public servant with an impressive track record in elective office,” said David T. Ellwood, dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government. “His knowledge and experience on the state and national levels will provide the Institute with fresh and vigorous leadership at a time when many young people are becoming engaged with politics for the first time.” 

“Trey Grayson is exactly the right person to lead the IOP as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of my father’s Presidency,” said Caroline Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation President and IOP Senior Advisory Committee Interim Chair. “He is an inspirational young leader committed to civic engagement, bipartisan cooperation and civil debate. I look forward to working with him to inspire the next generation to answer President Kennedy’s call to service.”

“The IOP has been an overwhelming success in its mission to expose students to the world of politics as a supplement to their academic experience, and to inspire them to public service,” said Harvard President Drew Faust.  “I am confident that Trey Grayson will continue to strengthen the IOP as a locus of engagement for undergraduates and a path-breaking model for the University.”

“I am excited and humbled to be selected as Director. The IOP played a pivotal role in developing my interest and approach to politics and public service,” said Grayson. “I look forward to working with the staff, students, and my Kennedy School colleagues to inspire a new generation of undergraduates to pursue public service like I did.  Given the current state of politics, the IOP’s unique and unparalleled mission is needed now more than ever.”

As director, Grayson will be charged with setting the strategic vision and budgetary priorities for the long-term direction and affairs of the Institute. He will also oversee the myriad activities of the Institute, which include: a resident fellows program for individuals from active political life; student programs such as internships in public service, research awards and special projects; educational seminars for elected officials; conferences designed to bring together academic, political and governmental leaders; and a year-long series of lectures in the John F. Kennedy Jr Forum.

Grayson will succeed former U.S. Senator John C. Culver (D-IA), who has served as interim director since July 2010.

“We are grateful for Senator Culver’s leadership and dedicated service to the Kennedy School and the IOP,” said Ellwood. “His wisdom and energy helped guide the Institute during a very busy and exciting semester.” Sen. Culver, who served as chairman of the Senior Advisory Committee for 14 years, will remain active on the Committee as Chairman Emeritus.

The IOP Director Search Committee was chaired by Caroline Kennedy and included Mary Jo Bane, academic dean of the Harvard Kennedy School; Sarah A. Bianchi
Investment Advisor, Eton Park Capital Management, former National Policy Director for the John Kerry Presidential Campaign, and IOP Senior Advisory Committee member; Elaine L. Chao, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and IOP Senior Advisory Committee member; Kenneth M. Duberstein, chairman and CEO, The Duberstein Group, Inc., former chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan, and IOP Senior Advisory Committee member; Archon Fung, Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Citizenship at Harvard Kennedy School; Anthony A. Williams, William H. Bloomberg Lecturer in Public Management at Harvard Kennedy School and former Mayor of the District of Columbia; and Maggie A. Williams, Partner, Griffin Williams LLC, former chief of staff to Hillary Clinton, and IOP Senior Advisory Committee member.


Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, 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.