Clay Pell

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Clay Pell
Personal details
Born Herbert Claiborne Pell IV
(1981-11-17) November 17, 1981 (age 35)
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.[1]
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Michelle Kwan (2013–2017)
Alma mater Harvard University (A.B.)
Georgetown University (J.D.)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Coast Guard Reserve
Rank Lieutenant Commander
Unit United States Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England

Herbert Claiborne "Clay" Pell IV (born November 17, 1981) is an American lawyer, military officer, and politician. He is a lieutenant commander and judge advocate in the United States Coast Guard Reserve, and served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for International and Foreign Language Education in the United States Department of Education. He is the grandson of the late Senator Claiborne Pell. Pell ran an unsuccessful campaign for the 2014 Democratic Party nomination for Governor of Rhode Island, which he lost to Rhode Island State Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

Early life and education[edit]

Pell was born to Herbert C. Pell III and Eugenia Stillman Diehl Pell on November 17, 1981, in Tucson, Arizona.[2] Pell is the grandson of the Senator Claiborne Pell and Nuala Pell (the granddaughter of A&P grocery chain founder George Huntington Hartford).[3]

Pell attended The Thacher School and graduated in 2000. He also attended School Year Abroad's schools in Zaragoza, Spain (1999) and Beijing, China (2001).[4] He graduated from Harvard College in 2005 with high honors and a bachelor's degree in Social Studies. Pell went on to graduate from Georgetown University Law Center with a J.D.[5][6] Pell has received a Citation in Modern Standard Arabic. He graduated first in his class from the Coast Guard Direct Commission Officer School.[7]


Pell is a lieutenant commander and judge advocate in the United States Coast Guard Reserve.[8] Pell served as Director for Strategic Planning on the National Security Staff,[5] and was a White House Fellow from 2011 to 2012.[6]

In 2013, Pell served for six months as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of International and Foreign Language Education at the United States Department of Education.[6][9] His support for language education and cultural proficiency was recognized by the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages which presented him with its Advocacy Award in 2014—an award Pell's grandfather received in 1988.[10] On January 27, 2014, Pell confirmed he would run for Governor of Rhode Island in the 2014 election.[11] His wife, Michelle Kwan, appeared in TV ads on his behalf to garner support among female voters before the September 9th, 2014 primary.[12] Pell placed third in the Democratic primary, which was won by Gina Raimondo.

Personal life[edit]

In January 2013, Pell married five-time World champion and two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan. The two first met in April 2011.[13] On March 29, 2017, Pell announced in a statement that he had filed for divorce from Kwan.[14]

Pell is a Christian.[1] He speaks English, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic.[5][15]


  1. ^ a b Fitzpatrick, Edward (December 14, 2013). "Edward Fitzpatrick: In governor’s race, would Clay Pell be David or Goliath?". Providence Journal. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Herbert Pell - Ida Lewis Yacht Club -". ZoomInfo. Retrieved January 21, 2016. 
  3. ^ G. Wayne Miller. "Nuala Pell, 89, was an advocate for the arts and humanities". Retrieved January 21, 2016. 
  4. ^ "The Thacher School ~ Pell-Mell: House of Stone to White House". September 22, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "Clay Pell moves from White House post to U.S. Dept. Ed. | Breaking News | | The Providence Journal". May 7, 2013. Retrieved October 17, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c Clay Pell confirms he may seek Democratic nomination for RI governor in 2014 Archived October 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "2011-2012 Class of White House Fellows". The White House. Archived from the original on 2015-02-16. Retrieved 2014-01-27. 
  8. ^ Steinberg, Jacques. "A Personal Perspective on Obama's Pell Grant Infusion". 
  9. ^ Lee, Karen (January 19, 2013). "Democratic Party chairman: Clay Pell, late senator's grandson, weighing run for R.I. governor | Breaking News |". The Providence Journal. Retrieved October 17, 2013. 
  10. ^ "The James W. Dodge Foreign Language Advocate Award". Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Archived from the original on August 21, 2014. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Clay Pell, Husband of Michelle Kwan, to Run for Rhode Island Gov.". The Associated Press. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  12. ^ Shepard, Steven. "Kwan Leaps into R.I. Gov Race". Politico. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Michelle Kwan Is Engaged". People. September 11, 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Clay Pell files for divorce from Michelle Kwan". Providence Journal. March 29, 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2017. 
  15. ^ "Language Magazine Interview with Clay Pell - Language Magazine". Language Magazine. Retrieved January 21, 2016. 

External links[edit]