Lanhee Chen


Policy expert, Stanford University

Director of Domestic Studies, Public Policy Program, David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow, Stanford University Hoover Institution

Lanhee J. Chen, Ph.D. is the David and Diane Steffy Fellow in American Public Policy Studies at the Hoover Institution and Director of Domestic Policy Studies and Lecturer in the Public Policy Program at Stanford University.

A veteran of several high-profile political campaigns and himself a candidate for statewide office in California, Chen has worked in politics, government, business, and academia.

Chen was a candidate for California State Controller in 2022. He was the strongest-performing statewide Republican, earned more votes than any other Republican candidate in the country in the general election, and won endorsements from every major newspaper in the state.

Chen has advised numerous major campaigns, including four presidential efforts. In 2012, he was policy director of the Romney-Ryan campaign, and served as Governor Mitt Romney’s chief policy adviser, a senior strategist on the campaign, and the person responsible for developing the campaign’s domestic and foreign policy. During the 2014 and 2018 campaign cycles, Chen served as a Senior Adviser on Policy to the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).

In addition to his academic appointments, Chen is a Partner at the Brunswick Group, a global business advisory firm, and a member of the Board of Directors at El Camino Health in Northern California. He also advises and invests in early-stage companies and was an operating partner and strategic advisor at NewRoad Capital Partners, a private equity fund.

From 2014 to 2018, Chen served as a presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed member of the Social Security Advisory Board—an independent, bipartisan panel that advises the president, Congress, and the Commissioner of Social Security on matters related to the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income programs. He also served in the George W. Bush Administration as a senior official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Chen’s writings have appeared in a variety of outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, and he is a regular contributor at CNN Opinion. He has also provided political analysis and commentary on every major television network.

Chen was honored in 2015 as one of the POLITICO 50, a list of the “thinkers, doers, and visionaries transforming American politics.” He earned a similar honor in 2012 when he was named one of POLITICO’s “50 Politicos to Watch.”

In 2017, Chen was the William E. Simon Visiting Professor in the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University. At Stanford, he is also an affiliated faculty member of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies and was Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School. An eight-time winner of Harvard University’s Certificate of Distinction in Teaching, Chen’s scholarship has appeared or been cited in several of the nation’s top political science journals.

Previously, Chen practiced law at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and was the Winnie Neubauer Visiting Fellow in Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

Chen serves in a variety of leadership and advisory roles in nonprofit organizations. He is a Director of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP); Co-Chair of the Policy Advisory Board for Free the Facts, a policy education organization; a member of the Board of Directors of the Winston Health Policy Fellowship; a member of the external advisory committee for the AAMC Research and Action Institute; and a member of the Council of Scholars for the Better Medicare Alliance. He is also a member of the Committee of 100, an organization of prominent Chinese Americans.

Chen earned his Ph.D. and A.M. in political science from Harvard University, his J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School, and his A.B. magna cum laude in government from Harvard College. He is a member of the State Bar of California.

A native of Rowland Heights, California, he currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and children.

Areas of Expertise

  • Public Service
  • Education

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