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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



November 23, 2015

"When Should Terror Force a City to Shut Down?"


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

"...[E]very city is inherently vulnerable. What makes them vital — their very openness — also puts residents at risk. For public safety officials, what to do about threats in a city is a constant balance between the risk and the reward. And it is in this context that the decision for an indeterminate lockdown must be considered."



Creative Commons

November 18, 2015

"After Paris—Am I Safe?"

Media Feature

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

"It's been a week of unrest, of massive investigation, of more bombings in Syria. I'd be silly to say 'this is how it is.' Things are changing too fast, but the universal question that  you hear today will remain the same. Not just because of what happened in Paris, but because it's a question we have been asking ourselves since 9/11: Am I safe?"




November 15, 2015

With attacks, ISIS now a global worry

Magazine or Newspaper Article, Harvard Gazette

By Nicholas Burns, Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations, Harvard Kennedy School and Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

In this interview with the Harvard Gazette, Nicholas Burns and Juliette Kayyem offer their respective views on the immediate lessons to be drawn from the brutal terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13.

Professor Burns says that this attack demonstrates clearly that the Islamic State has the reach and capacity to carry out complex, lethal terrorist operations well beyond its own region. In response, the U.S. and its Arab, Turkish and European partners must shift from seeking to contain ISIS to defeating it. That will require stronger and more assertive U.S. leadership than we have seen to date.  While the U.S. should not commit ground combat troops to this effort, we are the only country that has the influence and capacity to lead a broad international coalition to defeat ISIS at its base in northern Syria as well as in Iraq.

Professor Burns suggests how we might start to build such a coalition in this interview.



Creative Commons

November 14, 2015

"Lesson One: Terror Is Not About Lone Wolves"


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

"Social media can be used as a tool for good and bad: Over the last few years, counterterrorism officials have warned about the use of social media to radicalize adherents. But throughout the events in Paris, citizens used social media — Twitter, in particular — to help warn others, describe events as they unfolded and guide first responders' actions...."



November 9, 2015

"Russian Plane Crash: Waiting for That 0.1%"


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

"We know now from numerous reports that Western intelligence officials picked up post-crash 'chatter' by ISIS that it was responsible for the flight explosion. In most instances, such boasting means almost nothing standing alone....But this chatter seemed different, different enough for nations to act on it without actually concluding — with certainty — that a terrorist attack had indeed occurred."




October 31, 2015

"Ashley's War: Women in the Military"

Media Feature

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School and Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

The question of whether women should serve in the front lines of combat is one that's also been in the front lines of the news of late. As we await a final decision on the role of women in war by Secretary Ash Carter, Security Mom host Juliette Kayyem sits down with author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, the author of Ashley's War, which is about Ashley White, one of the first women to be killed in combat in Afghanistan.



October 23, 2015

"Why U.S. Really Needs Ambassador to Mexico"


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

"According to reports, presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez have held up veteran State Department official Roberta Jacobson's nomination because of her support and role in the United States' détente with Cuba."



Creative Commons

October 20, 2015

"The Real Way George W. Bush Didn't Keep Us Safe"


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

"Supporters of George W. Bush will say that critics need to move on and stop blaming him. Nothing could be further from the truth. The limitations of our power today, Arab unrest, the rise of ISIS, the Syrian civil war, the re-emergence of the Taliban and, of course, a vulnerable homeland all begin with the original sin of Iraq."



October 9, 2015

"Decrypting Encryption"

Media Feature

By Juliette Kayyem, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School and Susan Landau

We hear about encryption, Edward Snowden, the NSA all the time. But how did we get to the point where the government can track us — and where will it go in the future? Host Juliette Kayyem speaks to Susan Landau, former Google employee and current professor of social science and policy studies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.



September 25, 2015

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


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

"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."

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.