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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




October 24, 2016

"Why the Opioid Crisis is an Issue of Homeland Security"

Op-Ed, The Huffington Post

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

"Our homeland defenses are focused on risk planning — terrorism is a threat, but so are hurricanes and tornados, oil spills and border controls, and public health risks like Zika and, clearly, synthetic drugs. Our nation's security is about calculating risks to all-hazards and supporting those who are trained to protect our citizens. Simply put, the drug epidemic is challenging our overall response capacity and we haven't closed the gaps in our postal system that brings the drugs here."



October 17, 2016

"The Rise of the All-hazard Moms"


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

"...'[S]ecurity moms' are no longer just about ISIS or al Qaeda. In my field, we use the term 'all-hazards' to reflect how America's security apparatus has changed since the terror attacks of 9/11 — and how it needs to think about every type of risk, whether it be from ISIS, climate change, cyberattacks or gun violence. Now, it seems, security moms are taking a similarly broad view of security: To them, it is about protecting their homes and children, whatever the threat. They have, in short, embraced an all-hazards approach to their own security.



October 13, 2016

'Women are Leaving the Party That Once Promised Them Safety'

Op-Ed, Politico

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

"Working women like me have long laughed off or even forgotten those slights and inappropriate behavior—until last Friday's video reminded me of all those times when forging a career in a predominantly male field, and having three kids, wasn't without its abuses."



Creative Commons

August 23, 2016

"Debate on Whether to Show Up for Flood Misses the Point"


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

"...[T]he truth is that showing up is the easy part. Making government work when people need it is the real challenge."



August 12, 2016

"Terrorism Only Works on Nations That Aren't Ready for It"

Op-Ed, The Atlantic

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

"At the moment the explosions went off at the Boston Marathon, the first responders had no idea if it was the result of two brothers with a bomb or an overheated generator. It didn't matter. Plans in place to protect American citizens had to be viable for national-security threats, natural disasters, or any other mayhem."




July 20, 2016

"How Our Disaster Relief System Forces Foolish Decisions"

Op-Ed, Boston Globe Magazine

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

"The system favors negligent behavior because it provides no incentive to change and no penalties for making the same mistakes over and over. Not only is this a waste of taxpayer money, it is also fundamentally inconsistent with the goal of building a resilient society that must have the capacity to learn from the past."



June 15, 2016

"Why Do We Downplay This Terror Issue?"


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

"If I told you that some dangerous new device was being used by ideologues to kill tens of thousands of Americans, we would naturally move to regulate that device — and access to it. But change that one word — device — to weapon, throw in an absolutist notion of the Second Amendment, and mix it with a lot of lobbying by the National Rifle Association, and the debate changes. Automatically."



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."

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.