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Juliette  Kayyem

Juliette Kayyem

Former Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security


Juliette Kayyem currently serves as the Robert and Renee Belfer Lecturer in International Security at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where she is Faculty Director of the Homeland Security Project. She is the founder of Kayyem Solutions, LLC, providing strategic consulting to Fortune 500 companies and start-ups in technology, risk management, mega-event planning and cybersecurity, as well as the CEO of Zemcar, a lifestyle company focused on connecting busy parents with qualified drivers to solve their family’s transportation needs. She is also an on-air national security analyst for CNN. Read More >

Kayyem spent her government service 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; she also organized major policy efforts in immigration reform and community resiliency. Before that, she was Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s homeland security advisor, guiding regional planning and the Commonwealth’s first interoperability plan, and overseeing the National Guard. She has served as a member of the National Commission on Terrorism, a legal advisor to US Attorney General Janet Reno, and a trial attorney and counselor in the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department.

Kayyem formerly hosted a podcast entitled The SCIF for WGBH, Boston’s local NPR station, and her newest book, Security Mom: My Life Protecting the Home and the Homeland, was published in 2016.

She is the recipient of many government honors including the Distinguished Public Service Award, the Coast Guard’s highest medal awarded to a civilian. 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.

Juliette is a board member of MassINC, Americans for Securing All Packages, and the Red Cross of MA. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Global Cyber Alliance, the Trilateral Commission and formerly served on the DHS Secretary’s Homeland Security Advisory Committee.

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

Promoting Resiliency: 5 Best Practices for Corporations, Leaders & Communities

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.

Assume the ‘Boom’: What Every Business Leader Needs to Know about Preparing for a Crisis (Lessons from Disaster Management)

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.

Protecting Networks: Cybersecurity in an Age of Mayhem

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.

America in the World: Our National Security in an Age of Threats

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.

Lessons from a Security Mom: An Unclassified Guide to Protecting Your Home & The Homeland

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.