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IOP Executive Director Resigns to Work on Election

Her departure comes a week after news that the IOP's director will take a leave of absence to work for Clinton

By Nathaniel J. Hiatt, Crimson Staff Writer

Cathy A. McLaughlin will resign as executive director of the Institute of Politics to work on the presidential election, she announced in a public Facebook post Thursday—just one week after the IOP’s director said she would take a leave of absence to work for Hillary R. Clinton.

“For years, I have encouraged students to get out and get involved in the political process,” McLaughlin wrote in her post. “I have decided to take my own advice and spend the fall working on this historic presidential campaign.”

McLaughlin did not specify in her statement, which the IOP’s Student Advisory Council also sent to its members, whether she would work for a particular candidate. Neither McLaughlin nor Kennedy School of Government spokespeople could be immediately reached for comment.

Her departure comes just after the Clinton campaign announced that IOP Director Margaret A. “Maggie” Williams would help lead the Democratic nominee’s White House transition team, a position that led her to take a temporary leave of absence from the IOP starting in October. Some alumni have criticized Williams’s actions as jeopardizing the IOP’s nonpartisan reputation.

Unlike McLaughlin, Williams intends to return to the IOP at the end of the calendar year.

McLaughlin has served as the IOP’s executive director since 1994 and, before taking on her current role, worked in the Kennedy School’s communications and alumni offices. She previously worked on former Vice President’s Walter F. Mondale’s 1984 presidential campaign and former Massachusetts Governor Michael S. Dukakis’s 1988 bid.

“I will always be proud of the role I played in creating new initiatives at the IOP, while maintaining the core programming that has anchored it for so many years,” McLaughlin wrote in her statement.

She specifically cited the National Poll of Millennials, the Director’s Internship Program, and a consortium of colleges aimed at encouraging students to become involved in politics as ventures she undertook.

In an email to members of the Student Advisory Committee, Kathryn A. Bussey ’17, the group’s president, said that she and the executive board are “deeply thankful for the many years that [McLaughlin] has spent making the IOP better for our members, and we are excited for her to enter this next stage in her life.”

Bussey also wrote that “programming will continue as normal this fall,” which she also reaffirmed after news of Williams’s departure.

—Check for more updates

—Staff writer Nathaniel J. Hiatt can be reached at

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IOPHarvard Kennedy SchoolUniversityUniversity News2016 Election

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