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The Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program enhances leadership effectiveness and political acumen, informs human development policy and investment priorities, and develops planning and execution capacity among Ministers. The Program combines ministerial-level support with customized technical facilitation and capacity development shaped by the policy goals and specific needs of participating Ministers.

The flagship component of the Ministerial Program is the yearly Ministerial Forums at Harvard University where Ministers have a unique opportunity to step back from their daily duties, reflect on and re-evaluate their priorities in an environment of constructive challenge and peer interaction, and map their legacy contribution to advancing human development and economic progress in their country.


Each year a select number of serving finance, economic planning, education, health, and other Ministers with human development-related responsibilities from Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America is invited to the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Forums at Harvard University.

The Forums are practically focused and discussion-based, informed by case studies and the experience of former and long-serving Ministers from around the world. The curriculum concentrates on five main topics:

  • Transformative leadership and political strategy
  • Strategic human development priority setting and investment choices
  • Increased budget effectiveness and system efficiency to improve human development outcomes
  • Cross-sectoral collaboration to enhance sustainable economic advancement
  • Effective organization and management of policy implementation
Her Excellency Cristina Duarte, the UN Special Advisory for Africa and the Former Minister of Finance and Administration for Cape Verde, provides remarks during a panel discussion at the 2022 Harvard Ministerial Roundtable in Addis Ababa.
The Hon. Matthew Prempeh, Minister of Energy and former Minister of Education of Ghana, in the right of the picture participates in working group during the 2018 Roundtable taking place in Johannesburg. H.E. Jakaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania, in the left of the picture listens to Minister Prempeh’s remarks.
The Rt. Hon. Luisa Diogo, former Prime Minister of Mozambique, in the left of the picture and Her Excellency Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi, in the right of the picture welcome Ethiopian President, Her Excellency Sahle-Work Zewde, in the middle of the picture to the 2022 Roundtable meeting in Addis Ababa. The three women converse while walking down a corridor to the meeting, accompanied by a group of Ministers and security personnel.
Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia, answers questions during a discussion at the 2021 Harvard Ministerial Forum for Sectoral Ministers.

Pre- & Post- Harvard

Before coming to Harvard, Ministers are introduced to key concepts of political leadership, priority setting, and policy delivery, as well as guided in prioritizing policy and personal goals for their legacy in office. The pre-Harvard engagement aims to help prepare Ministers to get the best value from their time at Harvard.

Following the Forum, Ministers have access to a menu of technical support opportunities intended to support the implementation of Ministers’ legacy goals. This support is a combination of virtual and in-country engagement.

Participating Ministers have access to a Human Development Dashboard developed and kept current by the Harvard Ministerial Program to provide country-specific data tracking progress on key human development indicators.


The Virtual Implementation Platform (VIP) combines cutting-edge online learning modules, customized technical support, and virtual mentoring designed to support senior Ministry leadership in implementation planning and managing Ministers’ legacy goals.


The Program offers Ministers selective policy research support by graduate-level Harvard students as requested. An additional policy research opportunity is made possible by the Tessa Jowell Fellowship awarded annually to a Harvard Doctoral Student for research supporting Ministers participating in the Ministerial Program.

Peer Networking

In addition to peer networking during the Forum, the Program regularly convenes the Harvard Ministerial Roundtable, a unique opportunity for serving Ministers who are alumni of the Harvard Ministerial Program to share lessons and insights from their experience, and to explore fresh approaches to making a difference in tackling major social, economic, and political challenges in their country.


Since its inception, 274 Ministers from 70 countries have participated in the Program.