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Juliette Kayyem

Mailing address

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

Juliette Kayyem

Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

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 the Harvard Kennedy School, 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



May 25, 2016

"Homeland Security's Goldilocks Problem"

Media Feature

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

HKS Lecturer Juliette Kayyem, a national security expert and author of "Security Mom," digs into the "Goldilocks" problem of security in the United States, analyzing whether the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is worth the cost and hassle to air travelers; providing historical context to US approaches to safety and security; and explaining why national security is shaping up to become the central theme in the 2016 presidential general election, and what that means for the candidates.



May 20, 2016

"Long Lines and Disasters: The TSA in a Time of Troubles"

Magazine or Newspaper Article, The American Prospect

By Gabrielle Gurley and Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

"The way TSA and certainly security experts like me think about security is that we talk about layered security: That is, what you want is enough layers. None of them are perfect; everyone is willing to admit that. You might secure some doors and not others. But you put enough layers in those access points for violence to become a little bit more difficult."



May 19, 2016

"EgyptAir Downing: What We Don't Know is Vital"


By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

"While some have called for the private sector to take over TSA, such a change wouldn't solve the intrinsic structural burden encountered in a world where millions of people are flying each day. And imagine changing course, and the burdens that would accrue, in the midst of another potential terror attack."



April 28, 2016

"5 Years After Bin Laden"

Media Feature

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School and Peter Bergen

Bin Laden's death was important but in no way the death of the radical, violent ideology he espoused. Marking this five year anniversary I sat down with Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt and United States Of Jihad, in the most recent Security Mom Podcast to explore what happens when a man dies — but his ideas live on.



Creative Commons

April 6, 2016

"How Candidates Can Capture the 'Security Moms'"


By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

"Clinton, Sanders and down-ballot Democrats have the capacity to win the Security Moms away from Republicans by embracing them and acknowledging that the Democratic Party's approach to security — maintaining international alliances, criticizing the scapegoating of Muslim communities and supporting first responders — is successful."



April 2016

Security Mom: An Unclassified Guide to Protecting Our Homeland and Your Home


By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

In Juliette Kayyem's insider's look at American emergency and disaster management, Juliette distills years of professional experience into smart, manageable guidelines for keeping your family safe in an unpredictable world. From stocking up on coloring books to stashing duplicate copies of valuable papers out of state, Juliette's wisdom does more than just prepare us to survive in an age of mayhem—it empowers us to thrive. Her message, the result of years working where tragedy has thrived, is ultimately positive: starting in our homes, each of us—every mom, dad, aunt, uncle, yes every citizen—has the capacity to build a more resilient nation.



March 28, 2016

"'It Makes No Sense To Build a 10 ft. Wall on a 10,000 ft. Mountain'—Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson On Trump's Wall"

Media Feature

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School and Jeh Johnson

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson joins Juliette Kayyem on the Security Mom podcast to talk about his journey to public service, his undercover operation as a TSA agent, his thoughts on Trump's wall and GOP immigration policies, plus transparency for the DHS moving forward.



March 28, 2016

"No, America Isn't 100 Percent Safe from Terrorism. And That's a Good Thing"

Op-Ed, The Washington Post

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

"In the immediate years after 9/11, the security establishment sold a vision of an America that never existed, a vision based on some notion that the country had been invulnerable and risk-free before the terrorists struck. The shock of such a massive attack on civilians in the homeland caused much of the public to experience collective amnesia, as if our nation had never before navigated perils, including ones more dangerous than al-Qaeda."



Creative Commons

March 22, 2016

"Why Keeping Us Safe from Terrorism is So Hard"


By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

"The reality is that there are just too many soft targets in Europe and the United States to ensure complete security. It is the way our system of freedom has been built. Sadly, as the attacks Tuesday showed, that is also why it is so vulnerable."



March 22, 2016

"Is Your Child's School Prepared for an Emergency? 9 Questions to Ask"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe Magazine

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

"My self-help attitude, I am told, can at times seem slightly militant. I think that unfair. Rather, it grows from a notion that citizens should take some responsibility for their safety, especially those who have the resources to act responsibly."

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.