Abigail Thernstrom is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute in New York, a member of the Massachusetts Board of Education, and vice chair of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Government, Harvard University, in 1975. Her political affiliation is Independent.
Thernstrom and her husband, Harvard historian Stephan Thernstrom, are the co-authors of America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible (Simon & Schuster), which the New York Times Book Review, in its annual end-of-the-year issue, named as one of the notable books of 1997. They are currently working on a new book: Getting the Answers Right: The Racial Gap in Academic Achievement and How to Close It.
Abigail Thernstrom's 1987 work, Whose Votes Count? Affirmative Action and Minority Voting Rights (Harvard University Press) won four awards, including the American Bar Association's Certificate of Merit, and the Anisfield-Wolf prize for the best book on race and ethnicity. It was named the best policy studies book of that year by the Policy Studies Organization (an affiliate of the American Political Science Association), and won the Benchmark Book Award from the Center for Judicial Studies.
Her frequent media appearances have included Fox News Sunday, Good Morning America, the Jim Lehrer News Hour, Both Sides with Jesse Jackson, and Black Entertainment Television. For some years, she was a stringer for The Economist, and continues to write frequently for a variety of journals and newspapers, including , Commentary, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Public Interest.
Dr. Thernstrom serves on several boards, including the Center for Equal Opportunity and the Institute for Justice. From 1992 to 1997 she was a member of the Aspen Institute's Domestic Strategy Group.
President Clinton chose her as one of three authors to participate in his first "town meeting" on race in Akron, Ohio, on December 3, 1997, and she was part of a small group that met with the President again in the Oval Office on December 19th.