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Former Obama appointee will lead JFK Library

Alan Price will take over as director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston on Nov. 13.Tom Fitzsimmons/John F. Kennedy Library Foundation

A former Obama administration appointee with close ties to Harvard has been tapped to lead the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

Alan Price, who also briefly led Earlham College in Indiana, will take over as director of the library on Nov. 13, its foundation said in a statement.

“It is such an inspirational place with such an inspirational message, at a time when I think people need that,” Price said in a telephone interview.

He said he looked forward to pursuing community partnerships between the library and surrounding institutions to “continue to promote the legacy of John F. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy.”


He fills a leadership vacuum. The library, following a period of staff turmoil, hasn’t had a permanent director for three years.

Former US ambassador Caroline Kennedy, Kennedy’s daughter and the honorary president of the foundation, gave Price, a Harvard Law School graduate who directed the Global Leadership Institute at Harvard Business School, a ringing endorsement on Thursday.

“We are thrilled that Alan Price has been chosen to be the new director of the Kennedy Library,” she said in the statement. “His experience and leadership will bring new energy and vision to this important role. We look forward to working with him to build on the Library and Foundation’s efforts to make President Kennedy’s life and work accessible to new generations.”

Former President Obama appointed Price to serve as associate director of management at the Peace Corps and acting chief of staff for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, according to the release.

The National Archives and Records Administration announced Price’s appointment on Thursday, the statement said.

“With Mr. Price’s commitment to public service and community partnerships, he will strengthen the Kennedy Library and the National Archives both in Boston and beyond,” said David S. Ferriero, archivist of the United States, in the release. “Additionally, his education at and past Presidency of Earlham College make him a good fit for the educational mission of our Presidential Libraries.”


Price led Earlham, located in Richmond, Ind., for the past year, according to the statement.

“He led the expansion of partnerships between the college and local community organizations and established a new strategic vision to modernize and expand the Joseph Moore Museum (of natural history),” the release said.

The JFK Library, a vast repository of historical materials and exhibits on Kennedy’s life and legacy, has weathered controversy in recent years.

The Globe reported in September 2015 that more than one-third of the library’s staff had quit or been terminated over the prior year and a half amid internal conflict over modernization efforts.

Thomas J. Putnam resigned as director that year, and the Globe reported in November 2017 that the institution remained without a permanent replacement for the job, which pays between $124,406 and $172,100.

On Thursday, Price, 55, praised library employees for persevering during rough times.

“It’s a great tribute to the staff, to their quality and their dedication to service, to carry on the mission of the museum without an appointed director for nearly three years now,” Price said, adding that he anticipates “rebuilding relationships with staff” and increasing morale to help the library continue with its mission.

He and his family, he said, are thrilled to return to the Boston area, which they previously called home for 20 years. Price even made a bold sports prediction.


“We think it’s perfectly fitting that the Red Sox should win the World Series again, and we have every expectation that the Patriots will find their way to another Super Bowl victory,” he said.

Mark Shanahan of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.