My fellowship at Harvard's Institute of Politics

Barack Obama is an exceptional candidate – but he would not have defeated an establishment candidate like Hillary Clinton without the help of the internet. The 2008 election cycle has already been a historic milestone for the role the internet is taking in political campaigns, and we have yet to really move into the general election — I’m sure there are some surprises and innovations ahead.

Which is all a prelude to saying how delighted I am to be teaching at Harvard’s Institute of Politics next fall as one of their Resident Fellows. I’m looking forward to a front-row seat on the political cycle with a bunch of smart Harvard students as my co-conspirators. We might even have to get in on the action, and some innovating ourselves. I’m also excited by the prospect of getting to know the other fellows, all of whom are exceptionally accomplished. Of course I’m having some of that “I wouldn’t want to be a part of any club that would have me as a member” syndrome…

Since the press release announcing my appointment is only available as a PDF, I’ve taken the liberty of republishing it in it’s entirety below. And don’t worry — my work at EchoDitto, NewsJunk, and a fistful of other projects like ProxyDemocracy will continue.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Esten Perez JUNE 16, 2008 (617) 496-4009


Cambridge, MA – Harvard University’s Institute of Politics today designated six Resident Fellows to join the Harvard Kennedy School community for the fall semester. Resident Fellows interact with students, participate in the intellectual life of the community and pursue individual studies and writing projects.

“This extraordinary group of Fellows range from one of the preeminent governors in America, to the highest ranking woman in the Central Intelligence Agency, to one of the most respected diplomats in the Muslim world, to America’s foremost expert on internet politics, to a talented presidential media consultant, to a gifted young journalist and television analyst,” IOP Director and former U.S. Representative (R-IA) Jim Leach said.

The following Resident Fellows will join the Institute for the fall semester and lead weekly, not-for-credit study groups on a range of topics:

  • Alex Castellanos, founding partner, National Media, Inc.; served as senior strategist for Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and as a creative member to Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign;
  • Jennifer Donahue, political director, New Hampshire Institute of Politics; on-air political analyst and contributor to broadcast networks during past three New Hampshire presidential primaries;
  • Mary Margaret Graham, former deputy director of national intelligence for collection, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and retired senior CIA officer;
  • Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom (2003-08) and ambassador to the U.S. (1994-97, 1999-2002); a diplomat, journalist and academic, considered one of the most accomplished women professionals in the Muslim world;
  • Nicco Mele, founder and president, “EchoDitto;” former internet operations director, Vermont governor Howard Dean’s presidential campaign;
  • Tom Vilsack, governor of Iowa (1999-2007); former Democratic candidate for President of the United States; former chair, Democratic Governors Association; former executive committee member, National Governors Association; and co- chair of U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

“The Harvard community, particularly undergraduates active in Institute of Politics programming, will benefit from the opportunity to engage with this group of extraordinary leaders who have such vast experience in international as well as domestic politics,” Leach continued.

The Fellows program is central to the Institute’s dual commitment to encourage student interest in public life and to increase interaction between the academic and political communities.

Harvard University’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at Harvard Kennedy School, was established in 1966 as a memorial to President Kennedy. The IOP’s mission is to unite and engage students, particularly undergraduates, with academics, politicians, activists, and policymakers on a non-partisan basis and to stimulate and nurture their interest in public service and leadership. The Institute strives to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the academic world and the world of politics and public affairs. More information is available online at

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