John Palfrey assumed the role of Phillips Academy’s 15th Head of School on July 1, 2012. Prior to joining the Andover community, he was the Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School. He was also co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, where he served as executive director from 2002 to 2008.
Palfrey has published extensively on how young people are learning in a digital era, as well as the effect of new technologies on society at large. He is the author or co-author of several books, including Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives, Interop: The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems, Intellectual Property Strategy, and Access Denied: The Practice and Politics of Global Internet Filtering.
Outside of his work at Andover, Palfrey serves as a trustee of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and chairs the Steering Committee of the Digital Public Library of America. He has also served on the boards of the Mass2020 Foundation, the Ames Foundation, and Open Knowledge Commons, among others.
Palfrey joined the Harvard Law School faculty after practicing law at the Boston law firm Ropes & Gray. He was a visiting professor at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland during the 2007-2008 academic year. He also served as a special assistant at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton administration.
A teacher, author, and innovator, Palfrey has earned praise for his books and scholarly work, as well as his teaching. The Bok Center at Harvard recognized him in 2007 for Distinction in Teaching. In 2005, he earned a Dean’s Commendation for Excellence in Teaching from the Harvard Extension School.
Palfrey holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge, and an A.B. from Harvard College.