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Juliette  Kayyem

Juliette Kayyem

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


Professor Juliette Kayyem is currently the faculty chair of the Homeland Security and Security and Global Health Projects at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. She also serves as a national security analyst for CNN where she has been described as CNN’s “go to” for disasters. A frequent contributor to The Atlantic, she has a weekly security segment on NPR’s Boston station WGBH. Her most recent book, The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters, was described in a New Yorker profile of her as an “engagingly urgent blueprint for rethinking our approach to disaster preparedness and response.” Read More >

In government, she most recently served as President Obama’s Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security. Previously, she was Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s Homeland Security Advisor. She is the recipient of many government honors, including the Distinguished Public Service Award, the Coast Guard’s highest medal awarded to a civilian.

Professor Kayyem is the author or editor of six books including the best-selling book Security Mom in 2016, a memoir that explores the intersection, and commonalities, of her life in homeland security and her life as a mother. In 2013, she was named the Pulitzer Prize finalist for 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 won the Telly Award in 2021 for “excellence in a digital series” for her online documentaries on climate change with MyRadar.com.

She is a frequent speaker and advisor to major corporations and associations on national and homeland security, planning for a crisis, cybersecurity and resiliency efforts. From 2020-2022, she served as faculty for a joint effort with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Harvard University to train mayors and city leaders for pandemic planning. She is a Senior Advisor to Teneo, the global consulting firm, and also serves as a security advisor and consultant to several Fortune 500 companies and startups. She was named Inc. Magazine’s top 100 Female Founders in 2019 and received the Lifetime Achievement Pinnacle Award from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce in 2023.

A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and the mother of three children, she is married to First Circuit Court of Appeals Chief 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.