President, Jefferson Institute; Los Angeles, California
Dr. Joan Abrahamson is President of the Jefferson Institute, a public policy institute that brings creative thinking to practical problems. The Institute identifies innovative approaches to current policy problems and works to implement these solutions.
Prior to her work with the Jefferson Institute, Dr. Abrahamson was Assistant Chief of Staff to Vice President George Bush. As a White House Fellow, she served as Special Assistant and Associate Counsel to Vice Presidents Walter Mondale and George Bush. Prior to this, she worked for the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva and for UNESCO’s Division of Human Rights and Peace in Paris. She planned and implemented the Vienna International Congress on the Teaching of Human Rights and the International Symposium on the Political Participation of Women.
Dr. Abrahamson is the President of the Jonas Salk Foundation. She also is the Founding Chair of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. She served on the Commission of Fine Arts in Washington, D.C. and has been a consultant to many organizations, including the Harvard University Center for Urban Affairs, the Rockefeller Commission on the Arts and Education in America, the National Endowment for the Arts, the United Nations University, the Executive Office of the President and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. She serves on the boards of National Geographic Society, California Institute for the Arts, and the American Architectural Foundation, among others.
Dr. Abrahamson earned a BA from Yale University, MA from Stanford University, a doctorate in Learning Environments from Harvard University and a JD from the University of California at Berkeley. She also served as a law clerk for the Supreme Court of California. In June 1985, Dr. Abrahamson was named a MacArthur Prize Fellow. She is married to Professor Jonathan D. Aronson and they have two sons, Adam and Zachary.