Ash Institute

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The Roy and Lila Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation was formed in 2003 and "fosters excellence in government around the world in order to generate and strengthen democracy. Through its research, publications, curriculum support, global network, and awards program, the Ash Institute explores critical issues in democratic practice and effective governance. By engaging a broad, global community in which knowledge is shared, by generating and supporting research and curriculum materials, and by highlighting exemplary government programs, the Institute serves as a catalyst for successfully addressing many of the world's most pressing concerns and, in turn, improving the lives of its citizens." [1]

"The Ash Institute owes its origin to the visions of two people. Susan Berresford of the Ford Foundation argued that among the millions of people engaged in governance activities there were many who were, although unnoticed, striving to improve the performance and effectiveness of the government. To counter the declining faith in government, it was necessary to spotlight, celebrate and replicate a numerous innovative government programs in the US and worldwide. As a result John F. Kennedy School of Government, with a grant from the Ford Foundation, launched the Innovations in American Government Awards in 1985. Over the years the Awards program has been a considerable success and has sparked the diffusion and replication of many creative programs have now been widely adopted. Subsequent studies have confirmed that broad dissemination of ‘best practices' was substantially more productive than leaving each government department and agency to undertake its own innovation and reform. A significant endowment gift from Ford in 2001 allowed the Program to extend its global partnerships and scope and to institutionalize its work.

"The second impetus came from Roy L. Ash, who served as a cabinet member in two U.S. Government administrations. He argued that while considerable scholarly attention was being applied to the questions of governance in the government, in 'think tanks' and in the academic institutions, most of the work related to the specific public policy and current programmatic issues. His concept called for an application of concentrated and focused scholarly attention to the very nature of democracy—its societal value, its historic lessons, its applicability in diverse world circumstances, its continual evolution to fit the needs of changing times, and its opportunities, vulnerabilities and challenges for the future and its applicability to both the U.S. and to other democracies of the world." [2]

Part of Harvard Universities John F. Kennedy School of Government.


Visiting Fellows

Affiliated Faculty


Faculty Advisory Committee


International Advisory Committee

  • Sergio Aguayo - Center for International Studies, El Colegio de Mexico
  • Ledivina Carino - University Professor, National College of Public Administration and Governance, University of the Philippines
  • Michael Edwards - Director, Governance and Civil Society, Ford Foundation
  • John Gaventa - Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
  • Barbara Hogan - Member of Parliament, African National Congress, South Africa
  • Rhoda Kadalie - Executive Director, Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust, South Africa
  • Michael Lipsky - Visiting Professor of Public Policy, Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Senior Program Director, Demos, New York, NY
  • Mohammed Khalfan Bin Khirbash - Minister of State for Finance and Industry, United Arab Emirates
  • Rehman Sobhan - Chair, Centre for Policy Dialogue, Bangladesh
  • Peter Spink - Executive Director, Gestão Publica e Cidadanía, Fundacão Getuio Vargas, Brazil
  • Jiemian Yang - Vice President, Shanghai Institute of International Studies