The Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard Kennedy School is dedicated to excellence in leadership education and research. It is equally committed to bridging the gap between leadership theory and practice.

CPL serves people in government, nonprofits, and business through:

  • Courses, seminars, workshops, and executive programs for prospective leaders in the U.S. and abroad;
  • Financial support for scholars and practitioners, which includes research grants, doctoral fellowships, and programs for visiting scholars and leaders in residence;
  • Publications and international conferences;
  • Public events at the Kennedy School, including conversations about leadership with some of the world’s foremost scholars and practitioners.


At the heart of CPL’s mission is the enhancement of leadership teaching and research. By creating opportunities for reflection and discovery for students, scholars, and practitioners from different disciplines, sectors, cultures, and nations, CPL promotes a dynamic exchange of ideas.

As vital as this work is, CPL realizes that equipping people to handle the complexities of modern leadership requires more than traditional academic coursework. To be effective, a leader must combine the tools of strategic, financial, and policy analysis with self-understanding and an appreciation for the way their behavior influences others in the organization.

That’s why CPL has committed itself to providing cutting-edge training in leadership development. The better understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses that these workshops provide will extend the impact of the “hard skills” students have honed in the classroom.

Sources of support

CPL was established in 2000 through a generous grant from the Wexner Foundation. Leslie and Abigail Wexner, through their foundation, remain the principal benefactors of the Center, providing its core funding. Additional funds for the Center come through a variety of sources, including: Mortimer Zuckerman Fellows at Harvard University, the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Leadership Fund, the Gleitsman Program in Leadership for Social Change, Coca-Cola, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Defense, the Gorbachev Foundation, and the Magna Foundation.