Harvard Alum To Run For Senate

Co-founder of City Year will seek the late-Kennedy's seat in January.

Prominent social entrepreneur and former Institute of Politics fellow Alan A. Khazei ’83 will announce his candidacy for the Senate at a rally on Boston Common tomorrow, entering a contentious race for the seat formerly held by the late Edward M. Kennedy ’54-’56.

Khazei will vie against Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, State Congressman Michael E. Capuano, and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen G. Pagliuca for the Democratic nomination in the January 19 special election.
Both Khazei and Pagliuca also hold graduate degrees from Harvard.

Khazei is a member of the Harvard Law School class of 1987 and Pagliuca is a 1982 graduate of Harvard Business School.

Khazei, a longtime advocate for public service, said he will use the rally as a chance to lay out his vision of governance, which involves promoting citizen initiative, creating public-private partnerships, and increasing government efficiency.

“Even after the election of Barack Obama, Congress fell back into the old debate of ‘We need to bring back FDR’ versus ‘We need to bring back Ronald Reagan,’” Khazei said in an interview. “I think both are wrong. It’s the 21st century now­—we need a new approach. We need big citizenship instead of big government.”

Khazei added that he decided to run after spending his entire life in the nonprofit sector.

He launched his public service career in 1987 when he co-founded City Year, a program designed to place 17- to 24-year-olds in yearlong service projects.
The program quickly flourished, and President Bill Clinton used it as a model when he created AmeriCorps, a national service organization, in 1993.

City Year also brought Khazei together with Senator Kennedy, who was a longtime advocate for the program and who served as its first-ever corps graduation speaker.

Khazei called the Senator “an extraordinary mentor and a great friend,” and said it was Kennedy’s example that first made him consider entering politics.
Nafees A. Syed ’10, who served as one of Khazei’s liaisons during his fellowship, said she was happy to learn that he would be seeking the Senate seat.

“During his time here, he showed himself to be a really honest, caring person—not just on a personal level, but also in his aspirations for what America should be,” Syed said.

Harvard supporter Sam B. Novey ’11 said he decided to work on the Khazei campaign because he was inspired by Khazei’s lifelong work.

More than thirty other Harvard students have publicly declared support for Khazei, according to Novey.

“We’re out there getting signatures, recruiting volunteers, and getting people to help out in their communities,” Novey said.

—Staff writer Evan T. R. Rosenman can be reached at


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