Press Release - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Gen. Joseph Votel Joins Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center as Senior Fellow

| June 18, 2019

Cambridge, MA – Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has named General (ret.) Joseph L. Votel a non-resident Senior Fellow. Votel retired in March as Commander of the U.S. Central Command. During 39 years of service, he commanded special operations and conventional military forces at every level and led the 79-member coalition that successfully liberated Iraq and Syria from the Islamic State. At the Belfer Center, Votel will share with faculty, fellows, and students his extensive experience in leadership and public service and his insights on defense and security issues and challenges.  

“We are so pleased to welcome Joe to the Belfer Center,” said Belfer Center Director Ash Carter. “As SOCOM Commander, Joe brilliantly managed the 10,000 special operations forces deployed in more than 80 countries. Then as CENTCOM Commander, he oversaw the successful coalition campaign against ISIS. It is incredibly rare for someone to serve as commander of two different combatant commands, but Joe’s success in both roles is a testament to his unique abilities. I’m confident he’ll help inspire the next generation of service-centered, principled leaders here at the Kennedy School.”

“I am very pleased to join the Belfer Center,” Votel said.  “The Kennedy School is widely recognized for its values-based approach to government service and leadership development and I look forward to working with the faculty, fellows, and especially the students toward this continued endeavor."

Prior to his three years as Commander of the U.S. Central Command, Votel led the U.S. Special Operations Command and the Joint Special Operations Command. He previously served as the Deputy Commander of the Joint Special Operations as well as the Deputy Commander of CJTF-82 in Afghanistan.  He was the Commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment during initial operations in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003.  He was the initial Director of the Army and Joint IED Defeat Task Force during his tour in the Pentagon.

Votel’s service has been recognized with the Distinguished Military Leadership Award from the Atlantic Council, the U.S.-Arab Defense Leadership Award from the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, the Distinguished Service Award from the National Medal of Honor Society, the SGT James T. Regan Lifetime Achievement Award from the “Lead the Way” Foundation, and the Freedom Award from the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

A 1980 graduate of the United States Military Academy, Votel earned masters’ degrees from the U.S. Army Command and Staff College and the Army War College. He and his wife, Michele, reside in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. They have two grown sons, a daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter.

Contact: Sharon Wilke, Associate Director of Communications, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs: Sharon_Wilke@hks.harvard.edu | 617-495-9858.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:Gen. Joseph Votel Joins Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center as Senior Fellow.” Press Release, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, June 18, 2019.

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