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

Margaret Williams Named Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Arctic Initiative

| Sep. 25, 2023

Margaret Williams holding baby polar bear

Margaret Williams while accompanying a team of U.S. polar bear researchers on the Beaufort Sea during her tenure at World Wildlife Fund. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Williams)

Cambridge, MA – The Arctic Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs is pleased to announce the appointment of Margaret Williams as a Senior Fellow. Williams will support and expand the Initiative’s portfolio of work on marine governance and sustainable ocean management. 

“Margaret Williams has built an extraordinary career of innovation and leadership on the critical issues of marine stewardship, conservation, and international cooperation in the Arctic. We are absolutely delighted that she’s joining the Arctic Initiative at the Belfer Center,” said Arctic Initiative Co-Director John Holdren.

Williams has worked for over 30 years on conservation issues in Russia and Alaska. She joins the Arctic Initiative from the World Wildlife Fund (U.S.), where she established and served as the Managing Director of the Arctic Field Program, a biodiversity conservation program in marine and coastal ecosystems spanning U.S.-Russian-Canadian boundaries. 

While in residence at Harvard Kennedy School, Williams will investigate historical mechanisms for effective U.S.-Russian collaboration on conservation and marine stewardship, with the aim of identifying opportunities to rekindle dialogue and cooperation between the two countries, particularly in the Bering Strait region. She seeks to improve mutual understanding in both Russia and the United States of the growing impacts of climate change and maritime shipping on the region’s ecosystems, species, economies, and cultures.

“I’m excited to continue working on critical Arctic issues with a team of amazing people at the Arctic Initiative,” said Williams. “I hope to shine a spotlight on what’s at stake in the Bering Strait region if lines of communication between the United States and Russia are lost, and – if the political situation allows – to find ways to re-engage with Russian scientists, conservationists, and policy experts during these crazy, unprecedented times.”

In addition to her more than two decades of leadership at WWF, Williams served as a Member of the Polar Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences from 2018-2022. She is also a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Her commentary and analysis have been featured in major news outlets such as The Washington Post, PBS NewsHour, The New York Times, and Time

She holds a Master of Environmental Studies (MES) from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a BA in American Studies from Smith College.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Hanlon, Elizabeth. “Margaret Williams Named Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Arctic Initiative.” News, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, September 25, 2023.

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