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Leadership and Staff

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot Deputy Chair
Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education

SARA LAWRENCE-LIGHTFOOT is a Deputy Chair of the Board. She became a Director of Atlantic in 2005.

Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot, a renowned sociologist, is the Emily Hargroves Fisher Professor of Education at Harvard University where she has been on the faculty since 1972. Her work focuses on the ecology of learning, cultural processes and human development, and socialisation within families, communities and schools.

She has authored 10 books, including her most recent, Exit: The Endings That Set Us Free. Among her many honours, Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot received the prestigious MacArthur Prize Fellowship (1984) and Harvard’s George Ledlie Prize (1993) for research that makes the “most valuable contribution to science” and is to “the benefit of mankind.” In 2008, she became the Margaret Mead Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and was elected to the American Philosophical Society, the oldest U.S. learned society, dating back to 1743. In 2013, she became a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is also a Fellow of the National Academy of Education.

In 1998, she was named to the Emily Hargroves Fisher Chair at Harvard. Upon her retirement, it will become the Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot Chair, which will make her the first African-American woman in Harvard’s history with an endowed chair in her name. She also has an endowed named professorship at Swarthmore College. Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot is the recipient of 28 honorary doctorates from universities in the United States and Canada. She was featured on the 2006 public television documentary, African American Lives.

For 16 years, Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot was a Director of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and served as its Chair the last five years. She is a Director of Berklee College of Music, the WGBH Educational Foundation. She formerly served as a Director of The Boston Globe and Swarthmore College.

Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot did her undergraduate work at Swarthmore College and earned her doctorate in Sociology of Education from Harvard University.