David Gergen, a senior political
analyst for CNN, and a Professor of Public Service and Director of the Center
for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, will speak at the JUF
Medical Professionals & Educators Divisions dinner on Monday, May 19.
Gergen served as an advisor to four U.S. presidents of both parties: Richard
Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. He wrote about his
experiences in his New York Times bestseller, "Eyewitness to Power: The
Essence of Leadership. Nixon to Clinton." He has been active on numerous
non-profit boards, including the boards of Yale and Duke Universities. Among his
current boards are Teach for America, City Year, Schwab Foundation, the Aspen
Institute and the advisory board for the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
He also chairs the advisory board for the new School of Law at Elon University
and co-chairs the advisory board for Duke Engage.
A native of North
Carolina, Gergen is a member of the D.C. Bar, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, a
member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the U.S. executive
committee for the Trilateral Commission.
He is an honors graduate of Yale
and the Harvard Law School. He has been awarded 24 honorary degrees.
is currently at work on a new book about renewing America's political
In a 2009 interview, Stefanie Bregman, a staff writer
for JUF News, spoke to Gergen. Here's an excerpt from their
JUF News: Of all you've accomplished as a political
and presidential advisor, educator, journalist, author and public servant, what
have you found
David Gergen: It's an
enormous privilege for any citizen to serve a president in the White House and
so I've been wonderfully blessed in life by serving under four different
presidents. But some of my most rewarding moments go back to an earlier time in
my life, back into the 1960s. I grew up in North Carolina and I became a college
intern with Governor Terry Sanford, a very progressive, Kennedy-like figure in
North Carolina and they assigned me to work with David Coltrane, a fellow who
had been a long time segregationist and had changed his views and become very
strong pro-civil rights. I worked for him for three summers traveling the state
trying to keep racial peace but also trying to promote integration and jobs and
educational opportunities for African Americans. I look back upon that time as
one of the most satisfying in my public life.
How does your
experience as a public servant play into your role as a journalist?
There used to be a barrier between public service and journalism or working
in government and journalism and that barrier has come down. I don't consider
myself a journalist so much as I am a commentator. I do have biases and I'm not
there to just report the news-I'm trying to interpret and understand the flow of
What drew you to politics-did you always know you wanted
to work in public service?
I was drawn early on to be at the
scene as a participant of the big events of my generation-I've always wanted to
have a ringside seat and possibly be on the field for the big things that were
going shape our generation. Wanting to be there, wanting to make a difference if
I could, wanting to be a voice, trying to help shape how things turn out. I've
been very fortunate in life and people have been enormously kind to me along the