|Gergen at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in 2013|
|Counselor to the President|
May 23, 1993 – 1994
|Director of Communications|
January 21, 1981 – January 15, 1983
|Special Counsel to the President|
|Director of Speechwriting and Research|
|Born||David Richmond Gergen
May 9, 1942
Durham, North Carolina
|Alma mater||Yale University (1963)
Harvard Law School (1967)
|Occupation||political commentator, professor, former presidential advisor|
David Richmond Gergen (born May 9, 1942) is an American political commentator and former presidential advisor who served during the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. He is currently a Senior Political Analyst for CNN, a Professor of Public Service at the Harvard Kennedy School, and works actively to prepare the next generation of leaders.
Gergen joined the Nixon White House in 1971, as a staff assistant on the speech writing team, becoming Director of Speechwriting two years later. He served as Director of Communications for Ford and Reagan, and as a senior advisor to Clinton and Secretary of State Warren Christopher.
Gergen is currently a Professor of Public Service at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Director of its Center for Public Leadership. He is the author of the New York Times Best Seller, Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton, which was published in 2000. He is the former Editor-at-Large of U.S. News and World Report, and is a contributor to CNN.com and Parade Magazine. Twice Gergen has been a member of election coverage teams that won Peabody awards—in 1988 with McNeil-Lehrer, and in 2008 with CNN.
Gergen is known as an objective political voice, having worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations. He graduated with honors from Yale and Harvard Law School, and has been awarded 24 honorary degrees.
David Gergen was born in Durham, North Carolina, to Aubigne Munger (née Lermond) and John Jay Gergen, the former Chair of the Mathematics Department at Duke University. He is the youngest of four children, and one of his brothers, Kenneth J. Gergen, is a psychologist and professor at Swarthmore College.
For three summers, Gergen was an intern in the office of Governor Terry Sanford, where he be-came deeply involved in civil rights efforts. Gergen has called this work his “most satisfying experience in public service.”
Gergen earned his bachelor’s degree from Yale University in 1963 and was a member of Manuscript Society. At Yale, he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News, whose staff at the time included Senator Joe Lieberman, Stephen Bingham, Bob Kaiser, and Paul Steiger. Gergen received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1967, and married Anne Elizabeth Gergen, a native of London, England, the same year.
Gergen served in the U.S. Navy for three-and-a-half years and was stationed on a ship home-ported in Japan. Gergen writes in his book of his time as a damage control officer on a repair ship, the USS Ajax: “Learning to control damage, it turned out, was the best possible preparation for my coming years in the White House” (25).
Gergen began his political career in 1971 when he went to work for Richard Nixon as a staff assistant in the speech-writing office headed by Ray Price—a group that included Pat Buchanan, Ben Stein, and William Safire. Two years later, he rose to Director of Speechwriting.
In 1974, Gergen took a brief hiatus from the White House to write speeches for Treasury Secretary William E. Simon. Gergen writes in his book, “For me it was a great trade—the Treasury team taught me all about free markets and fiscal discipline.” (113). Gergen returned to the White House in 1975 as Director of Communications for President Gerald Ford. In 1980, Gergen was an advisor to the George H.W. Bush presidential campaign, and went on the join the Reagan White House in 1981. Beginning as a staff director, he eventually became Director of Communications. In 1993, Gergen returned to the White House, serving as Counselor to President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Warren Christopher.
Career in journalism
Gergen is a Senior Political Analyst for CNN and often appears on Anderson Cooper 360 and The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. He has been a frequent guest on NPR and CBS’ Face the Nation. Gergen writes for CNN and Parade Magazine, and has been published in an array of other publications including The New York Times and Newsweek. Twice he has been a member of election coverage teams that won Peabody awards—in 1988 with MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour, and in 2008 with CNN.
Following his years in public service, Gergen worked as a political journalist, commentator, and editor. After leaving the White House in 1977, he worked as a freelance writer and, in 1978, as the first managing editor of Public Opinion, a magazine published by the American Enterprise Institute. From 1985 to 1986, he worked as an editor at U.S. News & World Report, where he became editor-at-large following his service in the Clinton administration. There he worked with publisher Mort Zuckerman to achieve record gains in circulation and advertising.
Gergen’s career in television began in 1985 when he joined the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour for Friday night discussions of politics, where he remained a regular commentator for five years.
Career in academia
Gergen taught at Duke University from 1995 to 1999, and joined the Harvard University faculty in 1999. He is currently a Professor of Public Service at the Harvard Kennedy School where he teaches courses on leadership, public service, and U.S. politics. During election years, he co-teaches a course called “Contemporary Issues in American Elections” with Elaine Kamarck.
At Harvard Kennedy School, he is the Director of the Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership, which seeks to enhance leadership teaching and research. The Center helps to provide scholarships to 50-60 fellows a year, preparing them to serve as leaders for the common good.
Gergen is the author of the New York Times bestseller book Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton, published in 2000. The book is an account of his time in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton administrations. Gergen argues that, as the twenty-first century begins, our success as a country will depend heavily upon the success of a new generation in power. Drawing upon his many experiences in the White House, he offers seven vital elements that future leaders must possess: inner mastery; a central, compelling purpose rooted in moral values; a capacity to persuade; an ability to work within the system; a sure, quick start; strong, prudent advisors; and a passion that inspires others to carry on the mission.
He is working on a new book about renewing America’s political culture.
Gergen has been married since 1967 to Anne Elizabeth Gergen, who is a family therapist. They live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and have two children and five grandchildren. Son Christopher is a social entrepreneur in North Carolina as well as an author and a member of the Duke University faculty. Daughter Katherine is a family doctor, working with the under-served population at the Boston Medical Center.
Awards and memberships
Gergen has been active on many non-profit boards, and has served on the boards of Yale and Duke Universities. Among his current boards are Teach for America, City Year, Schwab Foundation, the Aspen Institute and the advisory board for the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He also chairs the advisory board for the new School of Law at Elon University and co-chairs the advisory board for Duke Engage. He is a member of the D.C. Bar, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the North American executive committee for the Trilateral Commission. Gergen has been awarded 25 honorary degrees.
- Aspen Institute
- Boston Museum Project
- Campaign Against Teen Pregnancy
- Center for Global Development
- Center for the Study of the Presidency
- City Year
- Duke University (former)
- The Mission Continues
- Morehouse College Leadership Institute
- Schwab Foundation for Social Enterprise,
- World Economic Forum
- Teach for America
- World Resources Institute
- Yale Corporation (former)
- Chair, National Advisory Board, Elon University School of Law
- Co-Chair, National Advisory Board, Duke Engage
- Co-Chair, Inclusive America Project, Aspen Institute
- Member, Advisory Board, Harvard Graduate School of Education
- Member, North American Executive Committee, Trilateral Commission
- Former Chair, National Selection Committee for Innovations in American Government
- Former Co-chair, National Selection Committee, Top American Leaders (co-sponsored by The Washington Post and Center for Public Leadership)
- Former Chair, Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery Peck Presidential Awards (for service to the U.S. presidency)
- Member, Selection committees for Fast Company's Social Capitalist Awards (best social entrepreneurs, U.S.)
- Judge, Civic Venture Purpose Prize Awards (citizens over 60 creating social change)
- Judge, Gleitsman Awards
- David Gergen, Master of The Game, October 31, 1993, New York Times
- "CNN.com International". CNN. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
- Gergen, David. Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership Nixon to Clinton. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.
- HKS Faculty Biography
- David Gergen Biography
- Commercial, City (November 5, 1967). "3 Nieces Serve As Bridesmaids Of Anne Wilson". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
- Swarthmore College Faculty Page
- The Center for Public Leadership
- "David Gergen Biography". davidgergen.com. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: David Gergen|
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- Works by or about David Gergen in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- David Gergen speaks to Jane Wales at the World Affairs Council of Northern California, October 10, 2006, video commentary on the Bush Administration.
- Transcript: Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees, February 7, 2008, CNN.
- David Gergen speaks to Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report about President Barack Obama's 2010 State Of The Union Speech
- Gergen Says He "Disrespects" Alex Jones