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 served as executive director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society from 2002 to 2008.
Palfrey has published extensively on how young people learn 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: How Children Grow Up in a Digital Age, BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google, 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 is chair of the board of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and LRNG. He serves on the board of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, School Year Abroad, and Data + Society. He is a former board member and the founding chair of the Digital Public Library of America and has served on the board of the Mass2020 Foundation, the Ames Foundation, and Open Knowledge Commons, among others.
Palfrey joined the Harvard Law School faculty after practicing law at Ropes & Gray, in Boston. 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.