Former secretary of housing and urban development Julián Castro named Klinsky Professor of Practice for Leadership and Progress

Will teach course on leadership in urban America

Portrait of a man wearing a white shirt with arms crossedJulián Castro ’00, former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and 2020 presidential candidate, will teach a course this fall at Harvard Law School on the challenges and opportunities of urban communities and how cities are changing because of the pandemic.

Castro will teach “From Crisis to Opportunity: Leadership in Post-Pandemic Urban America,” as the Steven and Maureen Klinsky Professorship of Practice for Leadership and Progress, drawing on his experience as a city councilman and three-term mayor of San Antonio, which ranks among the top 10 largest cities in the U.S.

Castro began preparing for a political career while still a student at Harvard Law. With his identical twin brother, Joaquin Castro ’00, who currently serves in the U.S. House of Representatives from the state of Texas, he laid the groundwork for running in San Antonio’s 2001 city council election during their third and final year at law school.

In 2001, Julian was elected as a San Antonio city council member, and, in 2009, he successfully ran for mayor of San Antonio, a position he held for three terms.

He gained national attention in 2012 when he was the first Hispanic to deliver the keynote address at a Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In 2014, President Barack Obama ’91 appointed him as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, where he served until 2017.

Castro published his memoir, “An Unlikely Journey: Waking Up from My American Dream,” in 2018.

“Secretary Castro has been a thoughtful and impactful public servant at both the local and federal levels, and we are delighted that he will share with our students the deep insights and experience he has gained relating to cities and housing in the twenty-first century,” said John F. Manning ’85, the Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. “I’m thrilled to welcome him back to HLS.”

“There’s no better place to engage students in thoughtful conversations about issues of law and public policy than Harvard Law School,” said Castro. “My studies at HLS sparked my interest in entering public service and provided me with an invaluable framework for thinking through issues as an urban policy maker. Today’s HLS students will shape their own local communities in myriad ways. I look forward to sparking that same passion in them.”

Castro earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications from Stanford in 1996.  After graduating from Harvard Law in 2000, he worked for the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld before launching a private practice, with his brother Joaquin, in 2005.

In addition to teaching his fall course, in the spring of 2023, Castro will deliver a lecture on the future of cities, to mark his appointment as the Klinsky Professor of Practice.

The Steven and Maureen Klinsky Professorship of Practice for Leadership and Progress, endowed by Steven Klinsky J.D. ’81 M.B.A. ’79, and his wife, Maureen Klinsky in 2013, was the first endowed professorship of practice established at Harvard Law School. The professorship is designed to bring visiting leaders from a wide range of fields beyond law to campus to teach and bring inspiration and broad perspective to the law school and Harvard University.

Previous Klinsky Professors of Practice include Julius Genachowski ’91, who served as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 2009 to 2013; attorney Kenneth Feinberg; former U.S. Representative Jane Harman ’69; entrepreneur, attorney and activist Chris Kelly ’97; and Mandy DeFilippo ’00, current Harvard Law Lecturer on Law and managing director and global head of risk management for Morgan Stanley’s Fixed Income Division.


On Thursday, March 24, the JFK Jr. Forum at Harvard Kennedy School will host Julián Castro for a discussion on his historic run for president, the state of politics today, and the future of the progressive movement. For more information visit the event listing on the HKS Institute of Politics website.