The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Eric Lesser (he/him)

Visiting Lecturer in Public Policy Eric Lesser
Visiting Lecturer in Public Policy

Eric Lesser is a senior counsel at WilmerHale, a leading global law firm. Previously, Lesser was a four-term member of the Massachusetts State Senate, an Obama White House aide, and a Democratic candidate for Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor.

As a state senator in Massachusetts, Lesser chaired the Committee on Economic Development & Emerging Technologies, co-authoring four major economic development packages over three legislative sessions. He led Senate negotiations for legislation authorizing more than $627 million in aid for families and small businesses in response to COVID-19, and for historic zoning reform to alleviate the housing crisis. He also co-authored and led negotiations for new laws regarding life sciences, sports wagering, intellectual property, student loans, and transportation infrastructure, in particular championing connecting western and eastern Massachusetts by passenger rail.

Lesser also held a variety of additional leadership positions in the legislature, including Chair of the Senate Committee on Ethics, co-chair of the Massachusetts Commission on the Future of Work, and co-chair of the Manufacturing Caucus, the Gateway Cities Caucus, and the Public Libraries Caucus. He was also vice chair of both the Transportation Committee and Judiciary Committee. Recognized nationally for his expertise in economic policy and transit and rail policy, he recently served on the Transition Committee for Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey and Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, focusing on transportation issues.

At the White House, Lesser was special assistant to Senior Advisor David Axelrod, one of President Obama’s closest and most trusted aides. Lesser assisted in developing and executing strategy around the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd/Frank Wall Street Reform Act, and the federal response to the Great Recession and the Global Financial Crisis. He also served as director of strategic planning for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, where he was the principal communications, political, and legislative adviser to Council Chair Austan Goolsbee, a key economic adviser and member of the president’s cabinet. Mr. Lesser began his career as one of the original members of Obama’s presidential campaign, traveling extensively with then-Senator Obama and his senior staff through both the primary and general elections.

Mr. Lesser is the founder of a workshop series on running for office, hosted by Harvard’s Institute of Politics and Center for Public Leadership, and a lecturer in Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He also worked for seven seasons as a consultant to the hit HBO series VEEP.

Mr. Lesser is a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a founding member of the national advisory board of the Student Borrower Protection Center. Previously, he was the recipient of a Rodel Fellowship in Public Leadership at the Aspen Institute, national co-chair of the Future of Work Initiative for The NewDEAL, and an inaugural fellow of the Massachusetts Civic Action Project. Lesser lives in Longmeadow, MA with his wife, three young children, and family dog Charlie.