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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

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



September 25, 2015

"Hajj Stampede: How to Stay Safe in Mass Gatherings"


By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy

"Along with preparation comes some situational awareness. When you arrive at your event, take a look around for exits and the routes that make the most sense for you. Are stairs an issue for your toddler and her stroller? Does your spouse have trouble with poorly lit hallways? Remember that you may not be able to take advantage of the main exit if things start to get bad. Take these things into account before disaster strikes."



September 23, 2015

"On Islam and Tolerance (With Sam Harris & Maajid Nawaz)"

Media Feature

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz

Behind every security issue — national or international — are cultural, economic and social factors that need to be considered when tackling the problem. In the case of global terrorism, a better understanding and more open dialog about the religion of Islam itself is vital.



September 21, 2015

"How Do You Protect the Pope?"


By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy

"The designation of this event as a national special security event, which sets the Secret Service as lead agency, underscores just how careful officials are being. Such a designation provides bodies and resources to support local jurisdictions, and elevates military assets to support planning."



Joshua Sherurcij Photo

September 11, 2015

"Why GTMO Remains Open"

Media Feature

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Matt Olsen and Amy Jeffress

This week, Security Mom host Juliette Kayyem sat down with Matt Olsen, former Head of the Guantanamo Review Task Force, and Amy Jeffress, who worked in the Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder, about why Gitmo remains open.



Creative Commons

September 1, 2015

"The TSA (And All Its Baggage)"

Media Feature

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy and Peter Neffenger

On this week's episode of "Security Mom," Juliette Kayyem sits down with Peter Neffenger, the new administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).



August 28, 2015

"Should Media Show On-air Killings?"


By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy

"As news organizations have determined in their decisions not to air ISIS beheading films, they become a tool for the murderous, rather than just a fact finder, if they choose to air such violence."



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.

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.