Belfer Center Home > People > Juliette Kayyem

« Back to International Security

Juliette Kayyem

Mailing address

Littauer 327
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Mailbox 53
Cambridge, MA, 02138

Juliette Kayyem

Lecturer in Public Policy

Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Telephone: 617-384-7325
Fax: 617-495-8963



In government, the academy, private sector and journalism, Juliette Kayyem has served as a national leader in America’s homeland security efforts.

Kayyem is founder of one of the few female-owned security businesses and provides strategic advice to a range of companies in technology, risk management, mega-event planning and venture capital. As a faculty member at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, she teaches new leaders in emergency management and national security and has authored several books on homeland security.

Kayyem has spent over 15 years managing complex policy initiatives and organizing government responses to major crises in both state and federal government. Most recently, she was President Obama’s Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security. There she played a pivotal role in major operations including handling of the H1N1 pandemic and the BP Oil Spill response, as well as organizing major policy efforts in immigration reform and community resiliency.  Before that, she was Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s homeland security advisor where she guided regional planning, the state’s first interoperability plan, and oversaw the National Guard. She has also served as a member of the National Commission on Terrorism, a legal advisor to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, and a trial attorney and counselor in the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department. She is the recipient of many government honors, including the Distinguished Public Service Award, the Coast Guard’s highest medal awarded to a civilian.

A journalist and commentator, she has a weekly  segment on Boston’s public radio station WGBH.  For nearly eight days straight, she provided non-stop analysis during the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings for CNN, where she continues to serve as a security analyst. In 2013, she was named the Pulitzer Prize finalist for her hard-charging editorial columns in the Boston Globe focused on ending the Pentagon’s combat exclusion rule against women, a policy that was changed that year.

She is a board member of Mass Inc., the Boston 2024 Olympic Committee, the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations. Described as a “rising star” of the Democratic party, in 2014 Kayyem was a candidate for Governor of Massachusetts. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and the mother of three children, she is married to First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge David Barron. Her memoir –The Education of a Security Mom – will be published by Simon and Shuster in 2015.



By Date



FEMA Photo

August 24, 2015

"Thad Allen on Hurricane Katrina, 10 Years Later"

Media Feature

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy and Thad Allen

On this week's episode of "Security Mom," Juliette Kayyem sits down with Thad Allen, then the Chief of Staff for the U.S. Coast Guard, to hear about his experience in New Orleans, 10 years after the tragic incidents of Hurricane Katrina. Allen had been sent to New Orleans to try to fix the botched recovery efforts of the national government.



August 23, 2015

"What Do the Train Attack Heroes Teach Us?"


By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy

"...[W]hile there is no question that greater security is needed for urban train travel, most modes of transportation are going to be inherently vulnerable. This is not to forgive the shocking realization that a heavily armed man got onto a major train line completely undetected. But as we build stronger transportation defenses, it is unlikely a single solution will emerge. There will have to be layered security in the hopes that, together, the risk can be minimized."



August 11, 2015

"California Killing Not about 'Sanctuary Cities'"


By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy

"These cities and states -- whatever label you give them -- determined that the only practical way to stop aggressive immigration rules was to provide a haven and to buttress effective local law enforcement. Indeed, what drove these communities was the documented reality that most sanctuary cities have less violent crime, that members of immigrant communities are often the victims of crimes and often too afraid to work with law enforcement to implicate those in their midst, for fear of being deported."



August 11, 2015

"How Classified Emails are Classified"

Media Feature

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy

On this week's episode of "Security Mom," Juliette Kayyem takes a look at how classified information works.



July 28, 2015

"Staying Safe In A Summer Of Shark Sightings"

Media Feature

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy

"...[I]f you see a shark — evacuate the water if you can and don't harass it. And lastly — remember that the likelihood of encountering a shark on your next beach outing is low."



July 17, 2015

"Chattanooga Shootings: Why Were Our Soldiers So Vulnerable?"


By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy

"Our laws are based around the notion that the military is not an armed entity on U.S. soil unless in times of insurrection or when civic institutions are unable to address a crisis. Every state and city has police for that function, and failing that, would then turn to the National Guard troops, first under the direction of the state's governor."



July 13, 2015

"22M Americans Affected By Latest Data Breach: Why It Matters To You"

Media Feature

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy

"As someone who has personally undergone the rigorous clearance process, I can tell you that the information these documents hold goes far beyond my Social Security number or the threat of credit card fraud. The government demands extensive information from potential employees — information that is deeply personal, ranging from individual medical history to the whereabouts and livelihoods of distant cousins."



July 6, 2015

"Why July 4 Terror Precautions Were Necessary"


By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy

"In an age of lone-wolf attackers, it is even rarer to be able to intercept any communication that would tell law enforcement who — of the thousands of people who toy with ISIS online — is going to attack and when."



June 23, 2015

"The Art of Staying Safe In Summer Crowds"

Media Feature

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy and Paul Wertheimer

Ahead of the Fourth of July holiday (and so many other summer gatherings) host Juliette Kayyem tracked down "the marshall of the mosh pit" Paul Wertheimer to learn more about what to fear in crowds, and how we can protect ourselves. Wertheimer is the founder and head of Crowd Management Strategies, a Los Angeles-based international crowd safety consulting service with a specialty in concert and festival safety issues.



June 8, 2015

"Inside the Minds of ISIS Members"

Media Feature

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy and Jessica Stern, Former Lecturer in Public Policy; Former Faculty Affiliate, International Security Program

On this week's episode of "Security Mom," Juliette Kayyem sits down with Dr. Jessica Stern. She's spent a career in government and academia as a thought leader, advisor and author of books that look at the world of terror, including her most recent book ISIS.

Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.