Former Oregon Gov. Kate Brown named a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School

By Dirk VanderHart (OPB)
Jan. 30, 2023 8:52 p.m.

Brown will spend about a week at the school. Former U.S. Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler has also landed at Harvard, for a semester-long fellowship.

Outgoing Gov. Kate Brown greets people as she arrives for the inauguration of Tina Kotek as Oregon governor in Salem on Jan. 9, 2023.

Outgoing Gov. Kate Brown greets people as she arrives for the inauguration of Tina Kotek as Oregon governor in Salem on Jan. 9, 2023.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB

Kate Brown hasn’t yet announced professional plans now that she’s departed the Oregon governor’s mansion. But for a week or so this spring, Brown is Cambridge-bound.


The former governor has been tapped as a “visiting fellow” at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School. That means Brown is headed to the university campus this semester to offer its students a glimpse into what she learned over decades in state politics – and as a sometimes controversial and unpopular executive.


In announcing the appointment, noted earlier today by Oregon 360 Media, the Kennedy School touted Brown’s history of signing major legislation like the “motor voter” law that registers voters when they obtain or renew their driver’s license, and a $5.3 billion infrastructure package in 2017.

“After taking action during the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in one of the lowest case rates in the country, Governor Brown focused recovery efforts on addressing the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on communities of color,” says a biography of Brown on the Harvard website. It goes on to tout her efforts to diversify the state workforce and the makeup of judges in Oregon, and her decision to grant clemency to tens of thousands of people and clear the state’s death row.

As a fellow, Brown will receive what Harvard describes as a “modest stipend,” and her tenure will be exceedingly brief. Visiting fellows typically spend just a week in Cambridge, the university says, participating in at least three events a day and often leading “at least one 90-minute study group.”

Brown won’t be the only recently unemployed politico from the Portland region taking in the Harvard experience. Former U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who lost her reelection bid in Southwest Washington last year, has been tapped for a semester-long fellowship at the Institute of Politics.

Herrera Beutler lost a primary challenge after joining nine other House Republicans in voting to impeach former President Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection.

Herrera Beutler will teach Harvard students about “putting country over party and governing in a divided America,” the university says.


Related Stories

Kate Brown wears a suit and sits in an armchair in front of a wooden bookcase.

After leading Oregon through nonstop crises, Gov. Kate Brown leaves office with a complicated legacy

Brown’s supporters believe history will judge her kindly; that she’ll be remembered for offering a steady hand during a time of crisis. Someone who could collaborate and listen, a person that didn’t obsess about who would get the credit. The majority of Oregonians agree with Brown’s politics -- they just elected a person whose values most closely align with Brown as our next governor. But with the outgoing incumbent, perception and reality have not always aligned. Even when people seemingly agreed with Brown’s policies, her approval ratings tanked.