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Juliette  Kayyem

Juliette Kayyem

Harvard Faculty, CNN National Security Analyst, Former Assistant Secretary at DHS & Author

Biography

In government, academia, private sector and media, Juliette Kayyem is one of the nation's leading experts in homeland, national and cyber security. She has spent over 15 years managing complex policy initiatives  and organizing government responses to major crises in both state and federal government. Read More >

A nearly nightly analyst on CNN, Kayyem is able to describe and analyze complex international and domestic security issues in an accessible manner that engages audiences worldwide. At Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, she is the Belfer Senior Lecturer in International Security where she teaches in homeland security, terrorism and crisis management (the school's most popular course). In addition, she is a strategic security advisor to major companies on cybersecurity, risk management, mega-event planning, and infrastructure protection. 

Kayyem served as President Obama’s Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security where she handled crises and disaster response, while also serving as the Department's lead for major initiatives in cybersecurity planning, climate change adaptation and community resiliency. She is the recipient of many government honors, including the Distinguished Public Service Award, the Coast Guard’s highest medal awarded to a civilian. Before that, she was a member of the National Commission on Terrorism and served as the first homeland security advisor to the state of Massachusetts. 

A prolific writer — her columns appear regularly in the Washington Post and CNN.com — in 2013, she was named the Pulitzer Prize finalist for editorial columns focused on ending the Pentagon’s combat exclusion rule against women, a policy that was changed that year. She is also a weekly featured analyst on WGBH, Boston’s NPR station.  

Kayyem is the author of Security Mom: My Life Protecting the Home and Homeland, a lively and fast-paced personal account of marriage and motherhood set against the backdrop of a high-stakes career in national security. In recounting the milestones that have marked her unpredictable, daring, and ultimately relatable life, Kayyem reveals that homeland security is not simply about tragedy and terror; it is about parents and neighbors and what we can do together every day to keep each other strong and safe. 

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. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Taking Charge of Our Own Safety

What Resiliency Means

Speech Topics

After the "Boom": Building Resiliency in an Age of Mayhem

Emergency management planning is the responsibility of all leaders. The essential missions of disaster management are broken down as a template for all crises, with Kayyem providing lessons learned from years spent managing the nation’s most pressing disasters. Kayyem draws on her experiences handling such crises as the BP Oil Spill, the H1N1 Outbreak, among others, to deliver important lessons for the public and private sector alike.

Terrorism, Cyberattacks & Pandemics: Managing Risks in a Borderless World

Keep Calm and Carry On… right? Well, not exactly. The popular refrain intended to inspire steadfast stoicism belies the meticulous network of systems required to actually keep us secure. Somewhere between oblivious and frantic (“tune out or freak out”) stands the balanced attitude of diligent resiliency, where evidence-based strategies are tested and strengthened. Here, Kayyem discusses the tumultuous history of Homeland Security, the threats we now face, and the pursuit of a sensible approach to keeping our communities safe.

Masters of Disasters: Leadership Lessons in Crises

There’s no such thing as perfect security. The rhetoric that somehow we can stop all bad things from happening is not only inaccurate, it’s a dangerous framework for thinking about risk. Bad Things will happen, but corporations and communities can minimize the damage by creating conditions that favor the most positive outcome possible. Kayyem reveals the 5 Components of Resiliency, with real life lessons for leaders in all fields.

Climate Change as a National Security Threat

Cyberspace is an exceptionally difficult arena to secure, with growing threats to our critical infrastructure and more. But aside from the sophisticated technology and certain unique vulnerabilities, cybersecurity is ultimately about governance. As a result, our approach to cross-sector capabilities and readiness shouldn’t be shrouded in mystery. Kayyem discusses how to build resilient systems to prepare for and respond to connected environments and support restoration.

Women & National Security: Raising Children in a World with (Sometimes) Unhappy Endings

Homeland Security, long shrouded in jargon-heavy secrecy, is unpacked and de-mystified by the original Security Mom, Juliette Kayyem. And as it turns out, the principles of keeping our nation safe are not so different than those we employ every day to keep our families safe. Strong communities are the building blocks of strong nations, and Kayyem brings her years of experience at the top levels of government home to the kitchen table for a frank, funny, and relatable discussion of the role we all play in keeping the home – and the homeland – safe.

Kayyem is also available to speak about current events.