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Professor of the Practice Emeritus

Kenneth S. Apfel is Professor of the Practice Emeritus at the University of
Maryland in College Park. He joined the faculty of the University of Maryland
School of Public Policy in 2006, where he served as the Academic Director of the
School’s Management, Finance and Leadership Program until his retirement. His
primary teaching and research interests are in public leadership and
management as well as in social policy, with a particular focus on health care
and retirement issues. He is currently engaged with the school’s executive
education and training programs for US and international public leaders.

Before joining the School of Public Policy, Apfel held the Sid Richardson
Chair in Public Affairs at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, the University of Texas
at Austin. While at the University of Texas, he established the Center on Health
and Social Policy and co-edited and contributed to a three book series on the
future of retirement and health security in the US.

Apfel has received several teaching awards since joining academia in
2001, including the Teacher of the Year Award from the graduate students at the
University of Texas and the Excellence in Teaching Award from the graduate
students at the University of Maryland.

Apfel currently serves as the Chair of the Board at the Center on Budget
and Policy Priorities in Washington DC. He served as Board Chair of the Visiting
Committee at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government from 2016 to
2022. From 2008 to 2010, Apfel served as Board Chair for the National
Academy of Social Insurance, and from 2009 to 2011 as Board Chair of the
National Academy of Public Administration. He served from 2011-17 on the
Maryland Health Exchange Board, the entity responsible for the implementation
of health reform in Maryland. Until 2020, he was the President of the Unitarian
Universalist Church of Annapolis.

Apfel spent the Spring 2014 semester as a Fulbright scholar in India at the
National Council for Applied Economic Research, researching India’s public
health insurance and pension policies.

Prior to his academic appointment in 2001, Apfel served as the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) from 1997 until 2001.
He was the first Senate-confirmed Commissioner of Social Security after SSA
became an Independent Agency and Congress authorized the new Cabinet-level

As Commissioner, Apfel brought a lifetime of leadership and public service
experience to a position that has frequently been described as having one of the
most complex and challenging public management challenges in the federal
government. During his tenure as Commissioner, Apfel was deeply involved in efforts to strengthen the long-term solvency of Social Security. He significantly
strengthened the policy, planning and public education activities at the Social
Security Administration. He also played a leadership role in efforts to strengthen
the childhood disability programs, to expand retirement planning services, to
enable persons with disabilities to return to work and to enable Americans to
apply for Social Security benefits online. In addition, he served from 1997-1999
as a member of the President’s Management Council.

Prior to SSA, Apfel was at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in
the Executive Office of the President, where he served since 1995 as the
Associate Director for Human Resource Programs. His responsibilities included
budget, policy and management review of all the human resource agencies of
the Federal government, including the SSA, the Departments of Labor and
Education and parts of the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human
Services. In this capacity, he was centrally involved in efforts to reform welfare
and to strengthen federal education and training programs.

Prior to his appointment at OMB, Apfel served as Assistant Secretary for
Management and Budget at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(HHS). He was nominated by President Clinton in March 1993 and was
subsequently confirmed by the U.S. Senate. In this capacity, Apfel served as the
senior budget official and chief financial officer for HHS. He formulated and
executed the third largest budget in the world – at the time a $700 billion budget
for a department staffed nationwide by 125,000 people. He served as a member
of the President’s working group on welfare reform and the Secretary’s task force
on Head Start.

Prior to his HHS appointment, Apfel worked for two decades in the areas
of social and budget policy. From 1989-1993, he served as legislative director to
Senator Bill Bradley, overseeing the formulation and development of all aspects
of congressional policy making. During 1982-1989, he was Senator Bradley’s
chief staff person for Federal social and budget policy, with a particular focus on
the Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and welfare programs under the
jurisdiction of the Senate Finance Committee.

From 1980-1982, Apfel served as committee staff for human resource
programs for the US Senate Budget Committee. From 1978-1980, he served a
Presidential Management Fellowship at the U. S. Department of Labor. He was
a college administrator from 1973-1976 at Newbury College in Massachusetts,
coordinating a grant from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to
provide outreach and remediation to veterans.

Apfel received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1970; a master’s degree in education, Northeastern University, Boston, 1973; and a master’s degree in public affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas, 1978. In 2016, he completed Harvard University’s executive training program on The Art and Practice of
Leadership Development

He is happily married to Caroline Hadley and they have two married sons
and four grandchildren.

Areas of Interest
  • Public management & leadership; retirement policy; healthcare policy