Ambassador Nicholas Burns is on public service leave from the Harvard Kennedy School as of December 21, 2021 to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the People's Republic of China.
Ambassador Nicholas Burns is the Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is the founder and Faculty Chair of the Future of Diplomacy Project and Faculty Chair of the Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, is a Faculty Affiliate of the Middle East Initiative, and is a Faculty Associate at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.
Burns is Executive Director of the Aspen Strategy Group and Aspen Security Forum, Senior Counselor at the Cohen Group, and serves on the Board of Directors of Entegris, Inc. He is Chairman of the Board of Our Generation Speaks, which seeks to bring together young Palestinians and Israelis in common purpose. He is Chairman of the American Ditchley Foundation and serves on the Board of Trustees of Boston College. He also serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including Special Olympics International, the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, Refugees International, The Trilateral Commission, the Richard C. Lounsbery Foundation, the Atlantic Council, America Abroad Media, the Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, the Boston Committee on Foreign Relations, the Gennadius Library, the NATO Cyber Center of Excellence, and the Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions Television Advisory Board. He serves on the Panel of Senior Advisors at Chatham House: the Royal Institute of International Affairs. He is a member of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He is a life-long member of Red Sox Nation.
Professor Burns served in the United States government for twenty-seven years. As a career Foreign Service Officer, he was Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 2005 to 2008; the State Department’s third-ranking official when he led negotiations on the U.S.–India Civil Nuclear Agreement; a long-term military assistance agreement with Israel; and was the lead U.S. negotiator on Iran’s nuclear program. He was U.S. Ambassador to NATO (2001-2005), Ambassador to Greece (1997-2001) and State Department Spokesman (1995-1997). He worked for five years (1990–1995) on the National Security Council at the White House where he was Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia Affairs and Special Assistant to President Clinton and Director for Soviet Affairs in the Administration of President George H.W. Bush. Burns also served in the American Consulate General in Jerusalem (1985-1987) where he coordinated U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinian people in the West Bank and before that, at the American embassies in Egypt (1983-1985) and Mauritania (1980 as an intern). He was a member of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board from 2014-2017.
Professor Burns has received fifteen honorary degrees, the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, the 2017 Ignatian Award from Boston College, 2016 New Englander of the Year from the New England Council, the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from the Johns Hopkins University, the Boston College Alumni Achievement Award, and the Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award from Tufts University. He has a BA in History from Boston College (1978), an MA in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (1980), and earned the Certificat Pratique de Langue Francaise at the University of Paris-Sorbonne (1977). He was a Visiting Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in summer 2008.
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Harvard Kennedy School is proud of its energetic involvement in the world. To better understand how to solve public problems by improving policy and leadership, we engage directly with policymakers, public leaders, governments, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses whose activities affect those problems. However, we recognize that such engagement can raise questions about perceived and potential conflicts of interest, so we disclose publicly the key professional activities of our faculty outside the Kennedy School. The activities disclosed below are for the most recent reporting period, as defined by University policy. Some may be paid, some may be unpaid, and others may be in exchange for expense reimbursement only.
Outside Professional Activities For Nicholas Burns
|Boston College||Fiduciary board membership|
|Council on Foreign Relations||Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation|
|Credit Suisse||Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation|
|Duke University||Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation|
|Entegris, Inc.||Fiduciary board membership|
|Eurobank||Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation|
|Gatehouse Advisory Partners||Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation|
|George Washington University||Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation|
|Hamilton Hall||Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation|
|Leading Authorities||Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation|
|Naval War College||Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation|
|Our Generation Speaks||Fiduciary board membership|
|Palm Beach Country Club||Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation|
|Richard Lounsbery Foundation||Fiduciary board membership|
|The American Ditchley Foundation||Fiduciary board membership|
|The Atlantic||Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation|
|The Cohen Group||Consulting|
|Tiger 21 LLC||Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation|
|U.S. Department of State||Employment|
|VBQ Limited||Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation|
|Washington Speakers Bureau||Speaking engagement, invited lecture, or presentation|