About Us

James A. Leach

Chairman, National Governing Board of Common Cause*

Jim LeachJames A. Leach is the interim Director of the Institute of Politics of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is on leave from Princeton University, where he is the John L. Weinberg Visiting Professor of Public and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School.


Before joining the Princeton faculty, Leach served in the U.S. House from 1976 to 2007. He chaired the Banking and Financial Services Committee, the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. He was a leading advocate of legislation expanding support for AIDS treatment and prevention, international debt relief, banning Internet gambling and reforming the financial services industry. He is perhaps best known as the principal author of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley law, which is considered one of the seminal pieces of banking legislation of the 20th century, second in import only to the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.


Leach attended Princeton, the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins, and the London School of Economics. A former U.S Foreign Service officer, he served as a delegate to the Geneva Disarmament Conference and the U.N. General Assembly. In 1973, Leach resigned his commission in protest of the Saturday Night Massacre when Richard Nixon fired his Attorney General, Eliot Richardson, and the independent counsel investigating the Watergate break-in, Archibald Cox.


Leach serves on the board of several public companies and three non-profit organizations – the Century Foundation, the Kettering Foundation, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and formerly served as a trustee of Princeton University.


Leach holds eight honorary degrees and has received decorations from two foreign governments. He is the recipient of the Wayne Morse Integrity in Politics Award, the Woodrow Wilson Award from Johns Hopkins, the Adlai Stevenson Award from the United Nations Association, and the Edgar Wayburn Award from the Sierra Club.

*Note: Jim Leach is on voluntary leave from the Common Cause Board through the November 2008 election.  Martha Tierney currently serves as the interim chair of the board.