Joan Abrahamson is president of the Jefferson Institute and the Jonas Salk Foundation, both located in Los Angeles, California, and has long been active in organizations advocating human rights, literacy, and the arts. She has a doctorate in education from Harvard University (1977) and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley (1980). In the 1980s, Abrahamson served as associate counsel and assistant chief of staff to Vice President George H. W. Bush. In 1985, she was named a MacArthur Fellow; she has been a board member of the National Geographic Society, the California Institute for the Arts, and UNICEF. She is the president of the Jefferson Institute, a public policy institute dedicated to innovative approaches to current policy issues, such as the future of cities.