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Alice Stewart, CNN Political Commentator and Harvard Institute of Politics Board Member, Dies at 58

CNN commentator Alice Stewart, left, moderates a conversation with CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta in 2019. Stewart died early Saturday morning. She was 58.
CNN commentator Alice Stewart, left, moderates a conversation with CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta in 2019. Stewart died early Saturday morning. She was 58. By Kai R. McNamee
By William C. Mao and Dhruv T. Patel, Crimson Staff Writers

Alice Stewart, a Republican political adviser and CNN commentator who was best known at Harvard for her dedication to undergraduate students as a member of the Institute of Politics Senior Advisory Committee, died early Saturday morning. She was 58.

Law enforcement officers said Stewart’s body was found outdoors in Virginia’s Bellevue neighborhood and that they believed a medical emergency had caused her death, according to CNN.

Stewart, who was an Emmy Award winning journalist, joined the IOP’s SAC in 2021, after previously serving as an IOP resident fellow for two semesters.

Stewart was born on March 11, 1966, in Atlanta and graduated from the University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism.

Harvard Kennedy School Dean Douglas W. Elmendorf, IOP Director Setti D. Warren, and IOP SAC Chair Michael Nutter wrote in a joint statement that Stewart was “a loyal supporter and a wonderful guiding influence.”

“As a member of the committee, she was always engaged and enthusiastic, and she provided consistently valuable advice to strengthen the IOP in serving Harvard College students interested in politics and public service,” they wrote.

IOP President Pratyush Mallick ’25 said in an interview that Stewart’s death was “incredibly saddening” and praised her longtime commitment for the IOP and its student members.

“Above all, she was incredibly welcoming and ready to help students at any kind of moment's notice,” Mallick said. “Her loss is incredibly saddening.”

Stewart started her career as a local reporter in Georgia, before serving as the communications director for the Republican presidential campaigns of former Arkansas Governor Mike D. Huckabee, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), former Senator Rick J. Santorum, and former Rep. Michele M. Bachmann.

Mallick said Stewart helped invite many GOP members to IOP events and said that the organization had hoped she could help introduce more Republican voices to the IOP’s programming in the future.

“She was a huge asset for us in making sure that Republican members of Congress were aware and willing to come to the kinds of programming and events that we did,” Mallick said.

IOP Treasurer Saba Mehrzad ’25 recalled how Stewart worked hard to not let her obligations as an commentator for CNN divert her attention from IOP students.

When Stewart once received a request to do a TV hit during a scheduled talk with the IOP’s Women’s Initiative and Leadership Group, she did not cancel the event. Instead, Mehrzad said, Stewart gave advice to students who signed up for the event, before she allowed them to watch on as she taped for a live segment on CNN.

“I just remember, first of all, how cool it was to watch someone be on TV live from the same room,” Mehrzad said. “That’s the biggest thing that still sticks out to me — her willingness to incorporate the IOP and incorporate students as much as she possibly could.”

Several former leaders of the IOP praised Stewart’s continual mentorship, even after their involvement with the IOP had concluded.

Victor E. Flores ’23-’25 and Nadia R. Douglas ’23-’24, who previously served together as the co-chairs of the IOP Fellows and Study Group Program in 2021, wrote in a joint statement that “her influence and dedication” shaped their own paths at Harvard.

“While we differed politically, her willingness to engage in difficult conversations served to inspire us and our fellow liaisons to continue our advocacy across political lines,” the two wrote.

Several current and former IOP students described Stewart as someone who quickly became a personal mentor.

IOP Vice President Ethan C. Kelly ’25 said Stewart was “somebody I’ve looked to for advice and for guidance.”

“I’m in a state of shock and also just sadness,” Kelly said.

Carine M. Hajjar ’21, who served in IOP leadership while Stewart was a fellow, said their relationship lasted after her graduation from Harvard..

“She was always there to answer a text, or to give me advice on a job idea or any type of prospect, and has really been cheering me on,” Hajjar said.

“She’s been one of my greatest mentors,” Hajjar said.

—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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IOPPoliticsHarvard Kennedy SchoolObituary