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David Thornburgh: Fels Institute
September 9, 2008 , Volume 55, No. 3


Thornburgh, David

David Thornburgh has been named executive director of the University of Pennsylvania Fels Institute of Government. 

In his former position as senior advisor to the Econsult Corporation, a Philadelphia-based regional economic consulting firm, Mr. Thornburgh has been a consultant to nonprofit and for-profit clients on strategic planning, policy and communications issues.

“I am delighted to announce David’s appointment. He comes to Fels with a distinguished record of leadership and entrepreneurship in regional economic development and civic affairs that has earned wide regard in the public and private sectors,” said Dr. Rebecca Bushnell, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Mr. Thornburgh succeeds Dr. Donald Kettl, who will return to full-time research and teaching in the department of political science at Penn and continue to serve on the Fels faculty and academic advisory committee.

Under Dr. Kettl’s leadership, Fels improved the performance of government and strengthened its curriculum for preparing future government leaders. In addition, Fels broadened its connections to the Institute’s alumni and developed new programs to improve the ability of government officials to meet challenges. The Institute trains current and future leaders for public service in government.

“With his deep and rich background in public finance, David Thornburgh stands in rich tradition of Fels and its 70 years of leadership for results. He’s ideally positioned to help the Institute take the next step in its history,” Dr. Kettl said.

In 2006-07 Mr. Thornburgh served as CEO of the Alliance for Regional Stewardship, a national best-practice network of public- and private-sector leaders committed to building globally competitive regions. He was executive director of the Pennsylvania Economy League in Philadelphia in 1994-2006 and served as director of the Wharton Small Business Development Center at Penn in 1988-1994. 

“Fels has built a tremendous legacy of educating effective leaders for public service,” Mr. Thornburgh said. “At at time when our economic, environmental and social challenges demand thoughtful and energetic leadership, I expect Fels will play an even greater role in shaping public policy and management at the regional, national and international levels.”

Mr. Thornburgh holds a BA from Haverford College and a master of public policy degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has studied entrepreneurship in Australia and New Zealand as an Eisenhower Fellow. He is a frequent commentator on public policy and regional development issues and has been recognized by Leadership Philadelphia as one of the 101 most trusted and respected civic “connectors” in the Philadelphia area.

Almanac - September 9, 2008, Volume 55, No. 3