1997: Harvard, Women, and Public Policy

Political scientist Joseph Nye, dean of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, invited me to move to Cambridge and create the Women and Public Policy Program. After a decade, I became the Eleanor Roosevelt Lecturer in Public Policy, and a senior fellow at the Center for Public Leadership, directed by David Gergen. Harvard opened worlds of opportunity. I relocated our family foundation to Cambridge; we expanded into new fields, from advancing women in politics to supporting social movement leaders. Charles created an orchestra, with musicians drawn from the deep well of talent in that musical mecca.

Annual colloquium

Since 1999, our Inclusive Security program has convened more than 800 women leaders from around the globe. Each year, these experts from different spheres – government and activists alike — come together to exchange their experiences promoting peace and security in war zones, connecting with policymakers, mid-career students, and each other.

Cambridge Conversations

Over two decades, our home has hosted more than 300 thought-provoking speakers. These off-the-record salons have made the house on Brattle Street a center of political change and a hotbed of social movements. The first such gatherings were in the early 19th century, conceived by William James, father of American psychology and friend of Sarah Bull, who built the residence. The topic of her first guest was women’s suffrage, more than 25 years before American women got the vote!

I’ve been honored to host many luminous presenters, including:

Heads of State or Government

Kjell Magne Bondevik, Norway
Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway
Bill Clinton, USA
Vigdis Finnbogadóttir, Iceland
Paul Kagame, Rwanda
Mary Robinson, Ireland

Other Political Leaders

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Kirsten Gillibrand
Jennifer Granholm
Nancy Pelosi

Military Leaders

Wes Clark
Jack Galvin


Atul Gewande
Nick Kristof
Elizabeth Neuffer

UN Ambassadors

Samantha Power
Bill Richardson

Nobel Laureate

Shireen Abadi


Yo-Yo Ma
Young people across Boston

Social Movement Leaders

David Flink
Ai-Jen Poo
Paul Rieckhoff
Eric Schwartz

Film Makers

Abigail Disney
Siddharth Kara

Worlds Apart book cover by Swanee Hunt

Worlds Apart (2011)

I wrote Worlds Apart: Bosnian Lessons for Global Security to demonstrate the dangerous gulf between those making policy and those affected by it in any conflict.

This Was Not Our War cover by Swanee Hunt

This Was Not Our War (2004)

Subtitled Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace, this book (which received a PEN/New England award for non-fiction) explores the Bosnian conflict through the words of 26 women I interviewed over the course of seven years.

woa_00_white-veil-in-carWindow on Afghanistan (2002)

A record – in photographs and words — of my 1998 trip to Afghanistan during Taliban rule. Supported by the UN High Commission on Refugees, I spent six days in Kabul and the remote countryside, as well as an Afghan refugee camp just across the border in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Read more about Swanee’s academic leadership.
At the Kennedy School, we’ve sponsored research, convened policy makers and practitioners, and shaped the experience of thousands of graduate students who passed through… en route to changing the world. Some take my courses in Inclusive Security, thinking through how they’ll bring women into formal and informal peace processes when they are themselves the policymakers in charge… I haven’t come across many of the communists that Dad warned were running Harvard.S.H.