On September 6, 2023, the CCCG hosted Harvard professor Danielle Allen for a President’s Forum lecture on her new book, Justice By Means of Democracy. Dr. Allen is James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University and Director of the Allen Lab for Democracy Renovation at Harvard Kennedy School's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. She is a professor of political philosophy, ethics, and public policy. She is also a seasoned nonprofit leader, democracy advocate, tech ethicist, distinguished author, and mom.
Danielle’s work to make the world better for young people has taken her from teaching college and leading a $60 million university division to driving change at the helm of a $6 billion foundation, writing as a national opinion columnist, advocating for cannabis legalization, public health policy, democracy renovation, civic education, and sound governance of and with new technology. During the height of COVID in 2020, Danielle’s leadership in rallying coalitions and building solutions resulted in the country’s first-ever Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience; her policies were adopted in federal legislation and a presidential executive order. She was the 2020 winner of the Library of Congress' Kluge Prize, which recognizes scholarly achievement in the disciplines not covered by the Nobel Prize. She received the Prize "for her internationally recognized scholarship in political theory and her commitment to improving democratic practice and civics education." She was a lead author on the Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy, a framework for securing excellence in history and civic education for all learners, K-12, released in 2021. During 2020 to 2022, Danielle ran for governor of Massachusetts, making history as the first Black woman ever to run for statewide office in Massachusetts.
A past chair of the Mellon Foundation and Pulitzer Prize Board, she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and American Philosophical Society. As a scholar, she currently concentrates on the GETTING-Plurality research network (focused on tech governance and AI ethics); the Democratic Knowledge Project and Justice, Health, and Democracy Impact Initiative, housed at the Safra Center; on the Allen Lab for Democracy Renovation, housed at Harvard’s Ash Center; and on the Our Common Purpose Commission at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Learning from the natural sciences, she has built a lab to extend the impact of work in the humanities and social sciences.
Her many books include the widely acclaimed Our Declaration: a reading of the Declaration of Independence in defense of equality; Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A.; Democracy in the Time of Coronavirus; and Justice by Means of Democracy. Her many edited volumes include From Voice to Influence: understanding citizenship in a digital age and A Political Economy of Justice. She writes a column on constitutional democracy for the Washington Post.
Outside the University, she is Founder and President of Partners In Democracy, where she continues to advocate for democracy reform to create greater voice and access in our democracy, and drive progress towards a new social contract that serves and includes us all. She also serves on the boards of the Cambridge Health Alliance, New America, FairVote, and the Democracy Fund. Danielle's personal website is available here.