Alan Khazei

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Alan Khazei
Born (1961-05-28) May 28, 1961 (age 57)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Alma mater Harvard College (B.A., 1983)
Harvard Law School (J.D., 1987)
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Vanessa Kirsch
Children 1 daughter
1 son
Website Official website

Alan Khazei (born May 28, 1961) is an American social entrepreneur. He is the founder and chief executive officer of Be the Change, Inc., a Boston-based group dedicated to building national coalitions of non-profit organizations and citizens to enact legislation on issues such as poverty and education. Previously, Khazei served as chief executive officer of City Year, an AmeriCorps national service program engaging 17- to 24-year-olds in a year of service in one of 23 U.S. cities and in Johannesburg, South Africa. Khazei co-founded City Year with Michael Brown, his friend and roommate at Harvard College and Harvard Law School.[1]

Khazei has led two unsuccessful campaigns for U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. He placed third in the Democratic primary in the 2010 special election, and withdrew from the primary in the 2012 election due to lack of funds and media attention.[2]

Early life and education

Alan Khazei is the son of an Iranian-American surgeon and an Italian-American nurse. He was born in Pittsburgh and grew up in the Boston area and in Bedford, New Hampshire. In 1979, he graduated from St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, where he was president of his graduating class. He graduated from Harvard College with honors in 1983[3] and in 1987 from Harvard Law School,[4] where he was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau.


City Year

In 1988 Khazei and his then–Harvard roommate Michael Brown founded City Year, a non-profit organization that offers 17- to 24-year-olds the opportunity to engage in 10 months of full-time community service. Khazei and Brown envisioned that a year of national service could become a commonplace bridge between high school and college.[5]

Under his leadership, CityYear grew to employ 1,000 corps members in 16 cities across America as well as in Johannesburg, South Africa. CityYear has created 15,000 jobs. Participants have performed more than 20 million hours of service and worked to tutor and mentor two million children.[6]

President Bill Clinton was inspired by visiting CityYear to found the Americorps program, and Khazei worked with President Clinton to establish Americorps. More than 575,000 Americorps members have contributed upwards of 700 million hours of public service. City Year, along with thousands of other non-profit organizations, is now a member of the Americorps network.[6]

President Barack Obama said of the CityYear program: "Who’s the next generation that is going to lead us and inspire us and build an America we can all be proud of? When I look out at all of the City Year corps members who have been giving so much of themselves for a cause that is so much larger than themselves, I think I have an answer to that question.”[7]

Save AmeriCorps campaign

In June 2003, AmeriCorps funding was cut by 80 percent. Khazei and other service leaders organized the "Save AmeriCorps" act, a grassroots campaign culminating in a 100 hour hearing in the Capitol. At this hearing, more than 700 AmeriCorps supporters testified.

This campaign led to half of the AmeriCorps funding being restored in 2003 and to all of the previous funding plus a $100 million increase appropriated for 2004. As a result of the increased funding, the AmeriCorps program was able to engage 25,000 more corps members.[6]


Khazei was recently recognized as one of NonProfit Times' 2008 "Executives of the Year" for his work in organizing ServiceNation, a summit event held in New York City on September 11, 2008 that featured then-presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain alongside over 700 other national service leaders.[8] At the summit, Obama and McCain together pledged to expand national service in an event that was broadcast on national television. Reaching an estimated 100 million Americans through its 200 non-profit member groups, ServiceNation played a leading role in the drafting and April 2009 enactment of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which authorizes the greatest expansion of national service in America since President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps.[9] The ServiceNation coalition continues to advocate legislation promoting national service, such as that proposed by Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and David Paterson of New York to created cabinet-level positions for service and volunteering.[10]

Khazei penned an article featured on The Huffington Post in April praising President Obama's signing of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, emphasizing the importance of "Big Citizenship over Big Government" and calling for a "New Patriotism" that looks to entrepreneurs and innovators in both the private and social sectors, forming new partnerships among government, the private sector, and the non-profit sector, all while taking advantage of modern technological advances that empower citizens and make government more effective and efficient.[11] Previously, Khazei had written an article for The Huffington Post on the importance of national service "not as a Democratic idea or a Republican idea... but as an American idea"[12] and another arguing for a renewed emphasis on ideas in political races to replace the current emphasis on fund-raising alone.[13]

Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act

Alan Khazei worked with Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act which will create 250,000 full and part-time service jobs.[14]

Other work

In 2003, Khazei helped organize the "Save AmeriCorps" campaign that testified before Congress for more than 100 straight hours and succeeded in persuading Congress to restore funding for the AmeriCorps program, of which Khazei's organization CityYear is a part.[10] He served from 1990 to 1992 as Vice-Chair of the Commission on National and Community Service upon appointment by President George H. W. Bush.[15]

Khazei has served on the Boards of City Year, Citizen Schools, the Harvard Alumni Association, the Mass Service Alliance, New Profit, Inc., Serve Next, Share Our Strength, and Teach For America. He has also served on the Advisory Boards of The Ad Council, America's Promise, the Leadership Council of Boston Medical Center, the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the Partnership for Public Service.[16]

Awards and recognitions

In 2006, US News and World Report named Khazei one of "America's 25 Best Leaders" and the Boston Globe Magazine named him as one of "11 Bostonians Changing the World". He is a recipient of the Reebok Human Rights Award, the Samuel S. Beard Jefferson Award for Public Service, the Caring Institute Award, the William Jefferson Clinton Award, the Jefferson Award for Public Service, and the Harvard Law School Association Outstanding Alumni Award. He has received honorary degrees from Clark University, Northeastern University, Suffolk University, and Mount Ida College.[9]

2010 United States Senate campaign

Khazei ran to fill the United States Senate seat left vacant by the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. He sought the Democratic Party's nomination for this seat in the Democratic primary on December 8, 2009. He came in third, behind Congressman Michael E. Capuano and winner Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Khazei's campaign was the only campaign among the candidates for the Democratic primary that accepted donations only from private citizens. The campaign did not accept donations from political action committees and lobbyists. Khazei came in third place in the primary, earning 13% of the vote.

Positions on key issues

Alan Khazei supports health care reform with a strong public option and measures to increase patient safety.[17] He also wants to lower medical costs through medical malpractice reform. He supports Roe v. Wade and believes in ensuring that women have full access to reproductive health care. However, he has stated that he would vote for a health care reform bill that includes the Stupak–Pitts Amendment, and would work later to change this amendment.[18]

Khazei supports an economic stimulus plan that he believes would create more than 100,000 jobs in the state of Massachusetts. The plan includes a 15% tax credit for hiring, support for small businesses, investment in clean energy technologies, support for the Kerry-Boxer clean energy legislation which will create 40,000 Massachusetts jobs, and full funding for the Kennedy Serve America Act.[19]

Khazei also believes in investing in clean energy solutions to stop climate change. He has proposed tripling the US's investment in clean energy research.[20]

Khazei believes that public education is "the civil rights issue of the 21st century." He calls for a pragmatic approach to improving education by strengthening programs proven to work, including public charter schools and higher salaries for teachers. He also wants to ensure that college is "affordable and accessible" for every student who wishes to attend.[21]

Khazei opposes increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan. In November, he gave a talk at Harvard University entitled "A New Approach to Afghanistan," in which he presented his recommendations for American policy in Afghanistan.[22]

He thinks that casino gambling should not be legalized in Massachusetts. He has stated that gambling costs taxpayers $3 due to increased bankruptcies for every $1 earned in revenues.[23]

Khazei said he would advocate to make progress in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict a central diplomatic priority, and supported a coordinated strategy with our allies to improve Israel’s relations with other Middle East states, thus enabling greater economic and political cooperation across the region.[24] He also believes the United States should continue to fully support Israel in combating terrorism and in ensuring the security of the state of Israel.[citation needed]

Khazei believes in full equality for members of the LBGTQ community. He supports repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, working for equal rights for same-sex couples, and passing a fully inclusive Employment Nondiscrimination Act that includes protection for gender identity expression[25]

Khazei believes that stem-cell research should receive federal funding.[26]

He opposes the death penalty.[27]

Senate endorsements

Khazei accumulated a number of high-profile endorsements during his campaign.

In November 2009, the Boston Globe endorsed Khazei for Senate, writing: "With high hopes, the Globe endorses Alan Khazei, the prime mover behind national-service policies, as Massachusetts’ best chance to produce another great senator."[28]

Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City, former Colorado Senator Gary Hart, and retired 4-star General Wesley Clark also endorsed Khazei's Senate bid.

While she never give an official endorsement of Khazei (likely due to the sensitivity of the Kennedy name in the Senate election), Caroline Kennedy came out in support of Khazei's bid, attending some of his fundraisers and claiming he would make an "amazing" Senator.[29]

2012 United States Senate campaign

On April 26, 2011, Khazei announced that he would be a candidate in the 2012 U.S. Senate election to represent Massachusetts, in an effort to unseat Republican Senator Scott Brown.[30]

In response to the entry on September 15 of Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren into the Senate campaign, Khazei issued a direct challenge to the other Democratic candidates — and specifically to Warren — to forego campaign funds from corporate lobbyists and all Political Action Committees. He pledged to do so himself. The Boston Globe's Noah Bierman reported that Khazei was leading the field of Democratic candidates in campaign funds as of the previous reporting period (June 30, 2011) with a reported total of $920,000, but that Senator Brown had a dramatic lead over all of the Democrats, having amassed about $9.6 million in campaign funds as of June.[31]

He signaled on October 26, 2011 that he planned to withdraw from the race, citing a lack of funds and media attention in the wake of Elizabeth Warren's entry into the race.[2]

Personal life

Khazei is married to Vanessa Kirsch, a social entrepreneur and graduate of Tufts University who has established several philanthropic organizations, most recently New Profit Inc., a group that provides grants to innovative social projects.[10] The couple live in Brookline, Massachusetts, with their two children, and belong to St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Brookline.[32]

He is also the cousin of Boston TV news anchor, Kim Khazei.[33]


  1. "City Year". City Year. Archived from the original on 27 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Abraham, Yvonne (October 26, 2011). "Alan Khazei pulls out of Senate race". The Boston Globe. 
  3. "Bio: Alan Khazei", (archived 2008)
  4. "Social Justice - Alan Khazei and Vanessa Kirsch". 2007-12-19. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  5. "Social Justice - Alan Khazei and Vanessa Kirsch". 2007-12-19. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Alan Khazei for Massachusetts". 2011-06-04. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  8. "TheNonProfitTimes". 2011-06-15. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 [1][dead link]
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Perry, Suzanne (2009-05-07). "Being the Change - News - The Chronicle of Philanthropy- Connecting the nonprofit world with news, jobs, and ideas". Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  11. "Alan Khazei: A New Patriotism". 2009-04-21. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  12. "Alan Khazei: The Service Solution". 2008-09-28. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  13. "Alan Khazei: Enough with the "Money Primary" Let's Move on to the Big Ideas Primary". 2007-04-07. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  14. "Alan Khazei for Massachusetts". 2011-06-04. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  15. City Year. "Alan Khazei". Echoing Green. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  16. "Alan Khazei for Massachusetts". 2011-06-04. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  17. "Alan Khazei for Massachusetts". 2011-06-04. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  18. "Alan Khazei for Massachusetts". 2011-06-04. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  19. "Alan Khazei for Massachusetts". 2011-06-04. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  20. "Alan Khazei for Massachusetts". 2011-06-04. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  21. "Alan Khazei for Massachusetts". 2011-06-04. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  22. "Alan Khazei for Massachusetts". 2011-06-04. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  23. "Alan Khazei for Massachusetts". 2011-06-04. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  24. "Alan Khazei for Massachusetts". 2011-06-04. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  25. "Alan Khazei for Massachusetts". 2011-06-04. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  26. "Alan Khazei for Massachusetts". 2011-06-04. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  27. "Alan Khazei for Massachusetts". 2011-06-04. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  28. "For Democrats - Alan Khazei for Senate". The Boston Globe. November 29, 2009. 
  29. Smith, Ben (2009-12-04). "Caroline Kennedy: Khazei win would be 'amazing' - Ben Smith". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2011-06-27. 
  30. Bierman, Noah (April 26, 2011). "Khazei seeking 2012 Democratic Senate nomination". The Boston Globe. 
  31. Bierman, Noah. "Khazei challenges Warren to reject lobbyist, PAC money in Senate fight". Boston Globe. Retrieved 26 October 2011. [dead link]
  32. Beam, Alex (November 24, 2009). "My dinner with Alan". The Boston Globe. 
  33. Heslam, Jessica, "Candidates' media kin honor 'firewall'", The Boston Herald, December 3, 2009

External links