Consultant Spotlight: Judy from Harvard Kennedy School for 33 years

Bio of Judy who worked at Harvard for 33 years

Judy joined The Art of Applying team after a 33-year career at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government where she served on the admissions committee for 25 years.

At Harvard Kennedy School, Judy directed the Office of Career Services for many years. In 1997 she became Registrar. At retirement, she was Associate Dean of Students, a position she held for several years.

As a member of the MPP, MPA2 and Mid-Career MPA admissions committee, she evaluated thousands of applications.

A graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Political Science, Judy received a M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology from Boston College.

In 1972, she co-founded the Boston Project for Careers, a nonprofit organization formed to develop opportunities for individuals who were seeking part-time professional positions, often after being at home with young children. The organization was one of the first to promote job-sharing in professional positions.

Judy is the author of numerous personal essays and travel articles in newspapers and magazines. Exploring transitions has been a theme throughout Judy’s career and she has taught workshops on that subject. A determined journal writer, she has been blogging twice-weekly at

She has two sons—HKS MPP, Class of 1997 “despite his mother being there” who is now The New York Times Frugal Traveler and Kellogg MBA 2000 who is CFO for a boys school.

Our Interview with Judy 

What schools did you attend for undergrad and grad school?

University of Michigan for undergrad and Boston College for grad school. 

Where did you grow up and where do you live now?

Grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, but have been in the greater Boston area for years and years.

 What was your career like before grad school and what is it like now?

Before attending graduate school, I was doing exactly what I loved doing, namely coaching and career planning and teaching groups of women how to think about their careers. But I was doing that on intuition and I thought that for credibility, I needed a graduate degree. Because I already had small children, I completed my degree part time. Best thing I ever did. The added credential allowed me to join Harvard’s Kennedy School and I never left. I advanced to the position of Associate Dean of Students, with heavy admissions responsibility–and that probably wouldn’t have happened without my master’s degree.

What influenced you to go to grad school?

I had co-founded a non-profit organization to promote professional part-time jobs for (mostly) women who were re-entering the workforce after taking time out to start a family, and found that although I was a “natural” counselor, I needed the credential of a graduate degree in counseling psychology.

What was the most challenging part of the application process for you?

OK, now I have to admit that I am probably TAOA’s most “senior” consultant.  That is, graduate school was different for my generation and is much more competitive now.  But having worked with graduate students at Harvard’s Kennedy School and serving on its admissions committee for thirty years, I have a good perspective on what competitive graduate schools are looking for in their applicants.

Tell us one of your favorite memories from graduate school.  

Nothing specific, I was just happy to be getting credentialed for what I was already doing.

How long have you been with TAOA and what led you to join the team?

I’ve been on TAOA’s consulting team for three years.  I have worked with awesome applicants who are very smart and highly motivated to succeed in their chosen careers.  I knew Kaneisha from her time at Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School and was delighted when she invited me to join TAOA.

Would you say you have any specialties when it comes to client work? If so, what are your specialties?  

Of course I know the Kennedy School extremely well, so if I have a specialty, that’s it.  But I enjoy helping people articulate their strengths and present a persuasive story to the graduate school(s) of their choice.

What are three things you would want The Art of Applying’s clients and subscribers to know about you?  

I love to write and have been published numerous articles as a freelancer, mostly about travel.  I still read newspapers that are real paper. I am a grandmother.

Judy Kugel with her family

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