De Blasio, Red Sox Lover, Heads to Harvard
Bill de Blasio, the former mayor of New York City who made no secret of being a fan of the Boston Red Sox, will become a visiting teaching fellow at Harvard University in the fall.
Mr. de Blasio, who flirted with running for governor and then for Congress, said his new position would allow him to pass on the lessons he had learned in creating universal prekindergarten and dealing with a deadly pandemic as mayor of the country’s most populous city.
The former mayor will be a visiting fellow at both the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. During his time as a fellow, Mr. de Blasio will focus on issues such as early childhood education and leading through a pandemic, which the former mayor considers the “bookends” of his eight years in office.
At the School of Public Health, Mr. de Blasio will teach an eight-week class on leadership focused on navigating major public health challenges. As a part of both fellowships, the mayor will meet with students one on one for mentoring and will serve as a seminar speaker.
Other fellows at the public health school will include former Mayor Kim Janey of Boston. Among those joining Mr. de Blasio at the politics institute will be Stefan Lofven, a former prime minister of Sweden, and Matthew Mead, a former governor of Wyoming.
“It’s exciting to spend time with really talented young people who are looking forward to going into public service,” Mr. de Blasio said in an interview. “I hope I can inspire them, but also give them some real life understanding of what’s ahead and how to be effective.”
The mayor, who grew up in Massachusetts, will remain a New Yorker, continuing to live in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope.
Mr. de Blasio created universal prekindergarten soon after he was elected, and it is regarded as his signature accomplishment. During the last year of his tenure, Mr. de Blasio presided over the city as it became the center of the coronavirus pandemic.
“He was mayor of New York City, and within that comes the incredible complexities of policy across the board, whether it’s health, housing or education,” said Setti D. Warren, the interim director of the Institute of Politics.
Mr. Warren, a former mayor of Newton, Mass., said that he and Mr. de Blasio were friends who had gotten to know each other better when they were serving as mayors of their respective cities.
Since the mid-19th century, no mayor of New York City has been able to win higher office.
Christina Greer, a political scientist at Fordham University, said Mr. de Blasio’s new role showed that he was still focused on being a national figure, a criticism that followed the mayor as he campaigned in South Carolina, Nevada, Iowa and New Hampshire during a failed run for president during his second term.
“Where does a New York City mayor go after they’re done?” Ms. Greer said. “They have the greatest job in the world, but it also seems for many to be a dead-end job at the same time.”
Mr. de Blasio left office with low poll numbers but made it clear that he wanted to continue in electoral politics. He signaled for months that he might run for governor after Andrew Cuomo resigned from that office in November following a report from the New York State attorney general that found that Mr. Cuomo had sexually harassed several women. The mayor decided not to run after Gov. Kathy Hochul drew strong fund-raising and poll numbers.
Mr. de Blasio also considered entering the race for a congressional seat that would have combined parts of Staten Island and Park Slope but decided against it after the district was invalidated by the courts. Subsequently redrawn districts created a new congressional seat that stretched from Manhattan to Park Slope, and Mr. de Blasio jumped in this spring.
The mayor was spotted campaigning outside schools in shorts and sneakers, presumably reminding parents and potential voters about his accomplishments around early childhood education. But with the polls once again showing no strong desire for Mr. de Blasio’s candidacy, he once again dropped out.
After each withdrawal, Mr. de Blasio appeared to become more reflective about his time as mayor. One criticism was that he often hadn’t seemed to enjoy being mayor.
During his withdrawal from the congressional race, Mr. de Blasio said that he had made “mistakes” in how he approached the job.
It’s a lesson that Mr. de Blasio said he hoped to pass on to future leaders.
“I mistook policy for popularity,” Mr. de Blasio said in the interview. “But in truth, to be an even better leader, you do need to think about the optics and the tone differently than I often did.”