Kenneth S. Apfel, who holds the Sid Richardson Chair in Public Affairs, joined the faculty of the LBJ School of Public Affairs in January 2001. His major teaching and research interests are in the areas of social policy and public leadership and management, with a particular focus on aging, health care, and retirement issues.
Prior to his academic appointment, Apfel served as Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) from 1997 until his term ended in January 2001. He was the first Senate-confirmed Commissioner of Social Security after SSA became an independent agency and the new Cabinet-level position was authorized by Congress.
During his tenure as Commissioner, Apfel significantly strengthened the policy, planning and public education activities at the Social Security Administration. He also played a leadership role in efforts to strengthen childhood disability programs and to enable persons with disabilities to return to work. In addition, he served from 1997 to 1999 as a member of the President's Management Council.
Before becoming Social Security Commissioner, Apfel worked in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the Executive Office of the President, where he served from 1995 to 1997 as the Associate Director for Human Resources. Prior to that appointment he served as Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Before he joined the Clinton Administration, Apfel worked for two decades in the area of social policy. From 1989 to 1993, he served as legislative director to Senator Bill Bradley, overseeing the formulation and development of all aspects of congressional policymaking. During 1982-1989, he was Senator Bradley's chief staff person for federal social and budget policy, with a particular focus on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and welfare programs under the jurisdiction of the Senate Finance Committee.
Between 1980 and 1982, Apfel was committee staff for human resource programs for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee. From 1978 to 1980, he held a Presidential Management Internship at the U.S. Department of Labor. He was a college administrator from 1973 to 1976 at Newbury College in Massachusetts.
Apfel received his bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1970; a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling from Northeastern University in 1973; and a master's degree in public affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs in 1978. He is an elected Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, the National Academy of Social Insurance, and the Council for Excellence in Government.