Earlier this week, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick ’82 announced the appointment of a fellow Harvard Law graduate, Juliette Kayyem, as the state’s undersecretary of homeland defense. Kayyem is a member of the class of 1995, as well as a 1991 graduate of Harvard College. She will be the first person to serve as Massachusetts’ homeland security adviser, a position newly-created by the Patrick administration. She will take office on January 22.
Kayyem, a public policy lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government since 2001 and the former executive director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, is a leading expert on terrorism and, since the 9/11 attacks, has commented frequently in the national media.
After graduating from HLS, Kayyem worked as a trial attorney in the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and later served on the National Commission on Terrorism. After Patrick’s election in 2006, she became a member of his new administration’s working group on public safety and security transition.
Speaking about her new position, Kayyem told reporters, “This is not an easy job; conceptually, it’s huge.” Among her top priorities, she said, will be involving businesses, colleges and universities in security planning, as well as making national and state-level security “more accessible to the public.”
The daughter of a Lebanese-American and a Lebanese immigrant, Kayyem is the only Arab-American to hold a state-level homeland security position, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She is also one of the only women to serve in such a role. “It’s a tremendous opportunity,” she said.