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‘Off and Running’: HKS Prof. Halla Logadottir Announces Campaign for President of Iceland

Harvard Kennedy School lecturer Halla Logadottir is running to become the next president of Iceland.
Harvard Kennedy School lecturer Halla Logadottir is running to become the next president of Iceland. By Addison Y. Liu
By William C. Mao and Dhruv T. Patel, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard Kennedy School lecturer Halla H. Logadottir, who co-founded the HKS Arctic Initiative, is running to become the next president of Iceland ahead of the country’s June 1 election.

Logadottir has been climbing in the polls in recent weeks. Logadottir has doubled her support since announcing her campaign on April 7, according to the latest survey by pollster Prósent. As of April 15, Logadottir — who leads Iceland’s National Energy Authority — is the fourth most popular candidate with 12.1 percent of the vote.

“The true potential of the President’s role is really to empower Icelanders across communities and sectors, and enhance our voice globally,” Logadottir wrote in a statement to The Crimson.

At the Kennedy School, Logadottir co-founded the Belfer Center’s Arctic Initiative, a program which seeks to design solutions to the rapid climate change observed in the Arctic. In 2021, however, she stepped down from leading the initiative full-time to start a five-year term as Iceland’s Director General of the National Energy Authority — the first woman to serve in the role in the country’s history.

Logadottir now teaches a course at HKS on issues affecting the Arctic.

But before joining the faculty, Logadottir also studied at the Kennedy School through its mid-career program, receiving her master’s in public administration in 2017.

Logadottir said she has “a lot of gratitude” for her connection to HKS and that her time at the school has helped expose her to a broad range of knowledge and experiences.

“It’s truly incredible how the knowledge and global networks I have been exposed to at HKS have helped to seek solutions in different roles,” she wrote in the statement.

“I always encourage HKS students to make the most of their time as you are planting seeds that can truly impact lives down the road,” she added.

According to her campaign’s website, as president, Logadottir pledges to focus on energy and environmental issues, gender equality, and “increasing opportunities for all, both at home and abroad.”

“Growing up in Iceland I realized that small nations can make a lasting difference on the world stage,” she wrote in a statement.

Logadottir specifically applauded Iceland’s position at “the forefront of tackling the energy challenge by making strides in natural resource management and innovation in climate-technologies.”

She also praised her country’s “commitment to peace, participatory governance, and gender equality,” saying it had been lauded by leaders worldwide and came from Iceland’s “hard work and collaborative mentality.”

Several HKS affiliates praised Logadottir’s work at the Kennedy School and supported her campaign.

“When I first met Halla in 2017 and started to work with her and our colleague, Henry Lee, to create the Arctic Initiative at the Kennedy School, I quickly began telling people that this woman would be the President of Iceland someday,” said John Holdren, an HKS environmental policy professor and a former science adviser to President Barack Obama. “Well, she’s off and running!”

Nate Graham, a course assistant for Logadottir’s course on the Arctic, said he was “excited” to learn about Logadottir’s campaign based on his experience taking her Arctic class and then working with her on the teaching team.

“I see her as a leader that works extremely hard, knows how to inspire people and bring them together, and has a deep passion for her country that she is eager to share,” Graham added.

Icelanders will head to the polls on June 1.

—Staff writer William C. Mao can be reached at Follow him on X @williamcmao.

—Staff writer Dhruv T. Patel can be reached at Follow him on X @dhruvtkpatel.

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