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Former Top Trump Official, Nine Others Named Institute of Politics Fellows

The Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School announced their spring class of fellows, which includes President Trump's former economic advisor Gary D. Cohn, Thursday.
The Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School announced their spring class of fellows, which includes President Trump's former economic advisor Gary D. Cohn, Thursday. By Carlos A. J. Rodriguez-Russo
By Jania J. Tumey, Crimson Staff Writer

President Donald Trump’s former chief economic advisor and nine other prominent political figures will join the Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics’ spring cohort of fellows, the IOP announced Thursday.

Gary D. Cohn, the former chief operating officer and president of Goldman Sachs who later served as director of the National Economic Council in the Trump Administration between January 2017 and March 2018, will join this semester's cohort, along with former Senator Heidi K. Heitkamp (D-ND) and former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew D. Gillum. The class also includes former United States representatives Barbara J. Comstock (R, VA-10) and Carlos L. Curbelo (R, FL-26), CNN Legal Analyst Michael Zeldin, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine M. Russell, and BGLTQ activist Aisha C. Moodie-Mills.

Former New Orleans Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu and former Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nuttera round out the group. They will return to the IOP as visiting fellows to continue their fall 2018 study group entitled Politics, Potholes and Public Service.

Katherine A. Krolicki '20, student co-chair of the Fellows and Study Group at the IOP, said Cohn’s bipartisan background brings an interesting perspective to the IOP Fellows Program.

“He’s a Democrat, and he worked in the Trump administration,” Krolicki said. “That ability to work for someone with the opposite ideals of you politically is something that we encourage in the IOP.”

Cohn is partnering with Heitkamp to lead a joint study group titled "The Real State of the Union." Study groups are weekly discussions organized and led by IOP Fellows.

Longtime friends Cohn and Heitkamp conceived their joint study group to explore the state of the economy from multiple perspectives, according to IOP spokesperson Kelsey A. Donohue.

“They believe that having perspectives from both the executive and legislative branches of government will provide a unique and enriching student experience,” Donohue wrote in an emailed statement.

Heitkamp joins the fellows program on the heels of an unsuccessful senatorial race last November. Former representatives Comstock and Curbelo also lost their races last year.

Gillum, who lost his Florida gubernatorial bid in November, said he is excited about spending time with students while on campus.

“This is a unique opportunity for myself and other fellows to spend time supporting the next generation of political leaders,” Gillum said. “Whether it’s in my study group or during office hours, I hope, in some small way, I help inspire these students to pursue their own careers in public service.”

Elijah C. DeVaughn Jr. ’21, who co-chairs the Fellows and Study Group with Krolicki, said Gillum stood out to him personally.

“He’s just an astounding fellow to have at the Institute of Politics, and someone who’s really exciting for me as an African-American male — I see myself in him,” DeVaughn said.

IOP Director Mark D. Gearan ’78 said he is looking forward to having fellows with experience in contemporary political issues at the IOP.

“I’m particularly excited about this cohort of fellows because I think they will engage in conversations with all of us in and around some of the central issues — electoral politics, the economy, LGBTQ and advocacy, voting rights, legal analysis, and climate change,” Gearan said.

DeVaughn said the class was selected with a vision of multiplicity — “of having people of not only different political proclivities, but also of different races, of different genders, of different kinds of expertise.”

The six resident fellows — Comstock, Curbelo, Gillum, Moodie-Mills, Russell, and Zeldin — will stay on campus for the full academic term. Cohn, Heitkamp, Landrieu, and Nutter will be visiting fellows and will have more condensed schedules.

— Staff writer Jania J. Tumey can be reached at

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