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Daniel R. Porterfield

President and CEO, The Aspen Institute

Daniel R. Porterfield, Ph.D., has served as President and CEO of the Aspen Institute since June 2018. He was selected by the Institute’s Board of Trustees because of his intellectual depth, commitment to inclusivity and diversity, and ability to lead a complex, mission-driven organization to create impact and make a difference in the world. His career embodies the ideals of values-based leadership upon which the Aspen Institute was founded.

Prior to leading the Aspen Institute, Dan served for seven years as the President of Franklin & Marshall College (F&M), a leading national liberal arts college founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1787. Under his leadership, F&M set records for applications, fundraising, and fellowships; developed cutting edge new centers for student wellness,

career services, and faculty excellence; set records for applications, fundraising, and fellowships; developed cutting edge new centers for student wellness, career services, and faculty excellence; constructed a new athletics stadium; and embarked upon the process of building a groundbreaking new visual arts center. Perhaps most important, Dan led F&M in the development of the Next Generation Initiative talent strategy, through which the College strengthened its academic excellence and competitiveness by tripling its percentage of incoming low-income students and more than doubling its percentage of domestic students of color.


For this work, Dan and F&M received national recognition and visibility, including high-profile coverage in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, on the PBS NewsHour, and at several summits of college and educational leaders held at the White House. The Next Generation Initiative also helped to galvanize the creation of a national project of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, the American Talent Initiative (ATI). Funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the ATI has a national goal of enrolling 50,000 more high-achieving low-income students in leading institutions by 2025. Dan has been recognized as a visionary leader and advocate for expanding educational opportunity and improving the human condition by the KIPP Foundation, the “I Have A Dream” Foundation, the Posse Foundation, and the Kaplan Educational Foundation. He was named a White House Champion of Change in 2016.


Prior to his appointment at F&M, Porterfield served as Senior Vice President for Strategic Development for his alma mater, Georgetown University. In this role, he led Georgetown’s institutional positioning, strategy formation, communications, government relations, community relations, and intercollegiate athletics, and spearheaded the University’s relationship with DC Public Schools and founded a number of Georgetown programs for immigrant children, DC students, and at-risk youth. He was also an award-winning professor of English. Before coming to Georgetown in 1997, Porterfield served for four years as a senior aide to then-US Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala. He earned B.A. degrees from Georgetown and Oxford—where he was a Rhodes Scholar—and his Ph.D. from The City University of New York Graduate Center, where he was awarded a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities.

A native of Baltimore, Dan and his wife, attorney Karen A. Herrling, have three children.

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