The White House is a small and very frenetic place packed with people who have no time to read, David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN, told a group of HSPH students on Feb. 15. An adviser to four U.S. presidents, Gergen gave his insider’s view of policymaking under pressure as part of the ongoing leadership series, “Decision-making: Voices from the Field.” Gergen discussed differences in the decision-making styles of recent presidents, and delved into the process behind the health care reform law. Professor Robert Blendon moderated.

Gergen got his start in public life as a speech writer in the Nixon White House. He went on to serve in the communications department for Gerald Ford, as director of communications for Ronald Reagan, and as an adviser to Bill Clinton and to the 1980 George H.W. Bush presidential campaign. Currently, he is a professor of public service and the director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. In 2000, he published the best-selling book, Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clinton.

“Decision-making: Voices from the Field” aims to enhance students’ decision-making knowledge and to generate new ideas that can provide solutions and strategies to challenging global and domestic health problems.