Skip to content

The Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy is named in honor of Michael and Kitty Dukakis’ legacy of public service to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Michael S. Dukakis
Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Northeastern University
Governor of Massachusetts (1975-1979, 1983-1991)
1988 Democratic Nominee for President of the United States

Michael Stanley Dukakis was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on November 3, 1933. His parents, Panos and Euterpe (Boukis) Dukakis both emigrated from Greece to the mill cities of Lowell and Haverhill, Massachusetts before marrying and settling in the town of Brookline, just outside Boston. Dukakis graduated from Brookline High School (1951), Swarthmore College (1955), and Harvard Law School (1960). He served for two years in the United States Army, sixteen months of which he spent with the support group to the United Nations delegation of the Military Armistice Commission in Munsan, Korea.

Dukakis began his political career as an elected Town Meeting Member in the town of Brookline. He was elected chairman of his town’s Democratic organization in 1960 and won a seat in the Massachusetts Legislature in 1962. He served four terms as a legislator, winning reelection by an increasing margin each time he ran. In 1970 he was the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s nominee for Lieutenant Governor and the running mate of Boston Mayor Kevin White in the year’s gubernatorial race which they lost to Republicans Frank Sargent and Donald Dwight.

Dukakis won his party’s nomination for Governor in 1974 and beat Sargent decisively in November of that year. He inherited a record deficit and record high unemployment and is generally credited with digging Massachusetts out of one of its worst financial and economic crises in history. But the effort took its toll, and Dukakis was defeated in the Democratic primary in 1978 by Edward King. Dukakis came back to defeat King in 1982 and was reelected to an unprecedented third four-year term in 1986 by one of the largest margins in history. In 1986, his colleagues in the National Governors’ Association voted him the most effective governor in the nation.

Dukakis won the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States in 1988 but was defeated by George Bush. Soon thereafter, he announced that he would not be a candidate for reelection as governor. After leaving office in January 1991, Dukakis and his wife, Kitty, spent three months at the University of Hawaii where Dukakis was a visiting professor in the Department of Political Science and the School of Public Health. While at the University of Hawaii, he taught courses in political leadership and health policy and led a series of public forums on the reform of the nation’s health-care system. There has been increasing public interest in Hawaii’s first-in-the-nation universal health insurance system and the lessons that can be learned from it as the nation debates the future of health care in America.

Since June 1991, Dukakis has been a Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University and Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy at UCLA. His research has focused on national health care policy reform and the lessons that national policy makers can learn from state reform efforts. Recently, he and former U.S. Senator Paul Simon authored a book entitled How to Get Into Politics-and Why which is designed to encourage young people to think seriously about politics and public service as a career.

Dukakis was nominated by President Clinton for a five-year term as a member of the Board of Directors of Amtrak, The National Railroad Passenger Corporation on May 21, 1998 and was confirmed by the Senate on June 25, 1998. He served a full five-year term on the Amtrak Board as Vice-Chairman.

Mike and Kitty Dukakis have three children: John, Andrea, and Kara, and are the proud grandparents of seven grandchildren.

Katharine (Kitty) D. Dukakis
First Lady of Massachusetts (1975-1979, 1983-1991)

Kitty Dukakis’ concerns for women’s rights, human rights, the arts, the environment, her community and family are mirrored in the numerous activities and organizations that have characterized both her public and private life.

Appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, she then became a founding member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She now serves as a member of its Committee on Conscience.

Ms. Dukakis has worked extensively on issues related to the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, and contemporary human rights issues. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Refugee Policy Group and Refugees International. In 1985, she participated in a fact-finding tour of refugee camps in Thailand, and established the Refugees International/Cambodian Crisis Fund to bring about humanitarian changes in the processing of Southeast Asians with families in the United States. She also organized a Task Force on Cambodian Children. In 1981 Ms. Dukakis organized a mission to Thailand where she worked for the release of 250 unaccompanied orphaned Cambodian minors, most of whom settled in Massachusetts.

From 1985 to 1989 she was the Director of the Program on Public Space Partnerships, a joint program between the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. The program developed demonstration projects and research models for the design, management, and funding of public spaces. Ms. Dukakis was greatly influenced by her parents’ appreciation of the arts. Her late father, Harry Ellis Dickson, was a first violinist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 49 years, associate conductor of the Boston Pops, director of the Youth Concerts at Symphony Hall and conductor emeritus of the Boston Classical Orchestra. Ms. Dukakis taught modern dance for many years at the Dittmer School of Dance in State College in Pennsylvania, Lesley College and the Brookline Arts Center.

Ms. Dukakis now serves on the advisory board of Mapendo International, a humanitarian organization that rescues and protects at risk and forgotten refugees in Africa. She also serves on the board of the New England Center for Children, a school for autistic children in Southborough, MA and is the namesake of the Kitty Dukakis Treatment Center for Women, which is part of the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital. She is also the author of two books: Now You Know, the story of her battle with addiction and depression and Shock: The Healing Power of Electroconvulsive Therapy, co-authored with Larry Tye, which describes how ECT proved to be the one treatment that dealt effectively with her reoccurring cycles of depression.

Ms. Dukakis attended Pennsylvania State University and received a B.A. in Education from Lesley College. She also received an M.S. in Broadcast and Film, Boston University School of Communications, and a Master’s of Social Work from the Boston University School of Social Work. She and her husband, Michael S. Dukakis, former Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and currently Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Northeastern University, live in Brookline, Massachusetts. They have three children, John, Andrea and Kara, and seven grandchildren.