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Mark Gearan

Director of the Institute of Politics

Harvard Kennedy School

Cambridge, MA, USA

Mark D. Gearan
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Mark D. Gearan’s Biography

Mark Gearan is the Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Prior to leading the Institute of Politics, he served as President in Residence at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.

From 1999 to 2017, Mark was President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the longest-tenured President in the school’s history. In addition to his role as President, he was also a member of the Department of Political Science. During his tenure, he reinforced the Colleges’ commitment to academic rigor, global understanding, study abroad opportunities, and service-learning. Mark also served as Director of the Peace Corps, and under his leadership the program experienced a resurgence of interest. During the Clinton administration, he served as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications, as well as Deputy Chief of Staff. During the 1992 presidential campaign, he was Al Gore’s campaign manager, segueing to the position of Deputy Director of President-elect Clinton’s transition team.

A Board Member of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Mark’s other non-executive roles include Co-Chair of the National Advisory Board on Public Service at Harvard College and a previous role as a Member of the Presidential Advisory Group for the NCAA. Prior, he was Chair of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Annapolis Group, and the National Campus Compact. He has also served on the Boards of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and The Partnership for Public Service, and has been active on the advisory board of The Presidential Appointee Initiative.

Mark earned his B.A. in Government cum laude at Harvard University and his law degree at Georgetown University. He is the recipient of 12 honorary degrees.

Mark Gearan’s Newsfeed

More Young People Say They Will 'Definitely' Vote in Election Than in 2016, Poll Says

"Young Americans recognize that the issues that impact their day-to-day lives are on the ballot, from health care and mental health to racial and social justice," Mark Gearan, Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School, said in a statement. "The unprecedented interest in this election and the significant increase in early and mail-in ballots portend historic turnout."

Harvard Youth Poll: Election 2020

“More than 15 million young Americans have turned 18 since the last presidential election. The Gen-Z generation is facing a once in a lifetime experience of a global pandemic, economic instability, and racial reckoning,” said Mark Gearan, Director, Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School. “Young Americans are seeing first hand how their government impacts their day to day lives and they are ready to make their voice heard in this election.”

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Mark Gearan’s Background

Harvard Kennedy School
Director of the Institute of Politics
Feb 2018 - Present
Cambridge, MA, USA
Harvard Kennedy School’s mission is to improve public policy and public leadership across the U.S. and globally, so people can lead safer, freer and more prosperous lives.
Harvard Graduate School of Education
President in Residence
2017 - 2018
Cambridge, MA, USA
Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) believe studying and improving the enterprise of education are central to the health and future of society.
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Current Board Positions

Harvard College
Co-Chair, National Advisory Board on Public Service
Cambridge, MA, USA
Harvard College is the undergraduate liberal arts college of Harvard University. Founded in 1636, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world.

Previous Board Positions

Campus Compact
Chair of the Board of Directors
Boston, MA, USA
The National Campus Compact advance the public purposes of over 1,000 colleges & universities by deepening their ability to improve community life and to educate students for civic and social responsibility
Board Member
Washington, DC, USA
NAICU, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universitities, is the voice of America's independent colleges & universities and has represented private, non-profit higher education since 1976.
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RFK / Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
Board Member
New York, NY, USA
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, founded in 1968, is led by human rights activist and lawyer Kerry Kennedy and advocates for a more just and peaceful world. Working alongside local activists to ensure lasting positive change in governments and corporations, the RFK team includes leading attorneys, advocates, entrepreneurs and writers united by a commitment to social justice.


Fast Forum with Symone Sanders
Jun 2020
Cambridge, MA, USA
Symone Sanders reflects on her campaign experience and discusses her work advancing issues of equity, justice, and social transformation. The conversation is moderated by IOP Director Mark Gearan.
Fast Forum with George Stephanopoulos
Apr 2020
Cambridge, MA, USA
George Stephanopoulos joined IOP Director Mark D. Gearan for a conversation on the COVID-19 crisis, the role of media in coverage, and his experience testing positive for the disease.
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Academic Appointments

Harvard College
Interim Faculty Dean, Winthrop House
Jul 2019 - Present
Cambridge, MA, USA
The Faculty Dean position is one of leadership in a House community. It involves working closely with colleagues and students to mediate any issues that arise and to ensure a comfortable environment for all residents.

Mark Gearan’s Education

Harvard University
BA Government cum laude