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Gunther Peck, associate professor of public policy and history, will take over as director of the Hart Leadership Program July 1. His appointment comes as Alma Blount, who has served as director since 2001, will be retiring from her position.

“I am honored to be the incoming director of the Hart Leadership Program,” said Peck. “Under the dynamic leadership of Alma Blount, the Hart program has become not only the gem of the Sanford School’s highly popular undergraduate major, but a nationally recognized model for leadership pedagogy.”

Gunther Peck
Gunther Peck​​​​

Peck received his Ph.D. in history from Yale University and has taught at Duke since 2003. His research focuses on human trafficking, its relationship to racial ideology, humanitarian intervention, and immigration policy. He teaches courses in both public policy and history. Peck has been a faculty affiliate of HLP and has been passionate about leadership pedagogy.

“Officially Gunther Peck joined the Hart Leadership Program as a faculty affiliate in 2017, when he began participating in our Research Service Learning Pathway,” said Blount. “But unofficially Gunther has been connected to HLP for years.  His office is right across from ours, and we have had many impassioned conversations about leadership pedagogy and political engagement through the years. He will bring a whole new level of energy, commitment, and inspiration to our program, and it is exciting for us to welcome him as the new director.”

In her role as Director of HLP, Blount helped shape the vision, purpose, and structure of the program. Known for her innovation in pedagogy, she helped create a model that has been replicated in a number of sites around the world.

Blount began teaching at Duke in 2001 and did her graduate work at Harvard. Before coming to Duke, she managed international programs for faith-based human rights organizations around the world, but also worked intensively in the U.S. with migrant farm workers in eastern North Carolina. Even more locally, she was an original staff member for The Independent Weekly newspaper in Durham where she covered the state as photo editor and chief photographer.

Alma Blount
Alma Blount

“She has been quite remarkable as Director and has had a deep influence on the lives of students and colleagues,” said Dean Kelly Brownell. “I am sad to announce her retirement, as Alma has been such a great colleague, but will be happy to celebrate all she has accomplished.”

The Hart Leadership Program was founded in 1986 with a gift from Milledge A. Hart III and his family to help nurture leadership abilities in students with a special focus on leadership for public life. For more than 30 years, it has combined classroom and experiential learning in ways that have helped generations of students understand their sense of purpose, explore their strengths and weaknesses, and develop the ability to lead in the face of the world’s major challenges.