Leonard J. Marcus, PhD

National Preparedness Leadership Initiative
Harvard University

Program for Health Care Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Lecturer on Public Health Practice
Department of Health Policy and Management
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Dr. Marcus is founding Director of the Program for Health Care Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Marcus’ research, scholarship and applied practice examine the advancement of health care and public health negotiation, conflict resolution and leader development. 


Dr. Marcus is lead author of Renegotiating Health Care: Resolving Conflict to Build Collaboration (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1995 and in its Second Edition, 2011). The book was co-recipient of the Center for Public Resources Institute for Dispute Resolution “Book Prize Award for Excellence in Alternative Dispute Resolution.” It also won the Book of the Year award from the Journal of the American Nursing Association. Lenny is co-author of Mediating Bioethical Disputes: A Practical Guide (New York: United Hospital Fund, 1994). 


Dr. Marcus is also lead author of the book, You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When It Matters Most (New York: PublicAffairs Press, In paperback, March 2021). Shortly after 9/11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked Lenny and the Kennedy School’s David Gergen to establish the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) at Harvard University. The purpose: to study critical homeland security and emergency management leadership challenges facing the country and then to develop leadership strategies, analysis and methodologies to meet new contingencies. Dr. Marcus and his co-authors are given rare access to senior national leaders during crucible times of emergency: Hurricane Katrina, Deep Water Horizon, Boston Marathon bombings, H1N1, Ebola, Hurricane Sandy and others. The book presents findings of that research along with original and innovative problem solving strategies – including Meta-Leadership, Swarm Leadership and the Walk in the Woods – adopted by government, corporate and non-profit leaders around the world. 


Through the COVID-19 crisis, Dr. Marcus has been actively working with government and business leaders, and teaching leaders around the world. Shortly after the national emergency was declared and FEMA was placed in the lead of the U.S. response, Lenny met each evening with FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor to discuss and advise on the work and leadership of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. In July 2020, Dr. Marcus established the Aviation Public Health Initiative at Harvard, sponsored by Airlines for America and involving major aircraft manufacturers, domestic airlines, airports and government agencies. The project’s intent is to assess and reduce risks of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the aviation system. 


Over his twenty-seven years at Harvard, Dr. Marcus’s work has also focused on leadership and the implications of conflict in health and other settings. He has mediated, consulted, and trained nationally and internationally, including a number of projects to facilitate the consolidation and merger of health system networks. An enthusiastic teacher, speaker and storyteller, he is recipient of the 2017 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health "Excellence in Teaching Award for Executive and Continuing Professional Education."  


Lenny’s work has been applied extensively to complex organizational transformation, stakeholder negotiation and conflict resolution. His breadth of analysis and capacity to translate complex problems into workable solutions has allowed him to engage a wide range of leaders and constituencies. Among his many post-9/11 activities, he has lectured on crisis leadership for senior leaders at the White House during the Bush, Obama, Trump and soon, the Biden administrations. 


Dr. Marcus received his Ph.D. in 1983 from the Heller School at Brandeis University, studying policy and organizations.