Ambassador Nicholas Burns is Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Atlantic Council, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress and the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. In summer 2008, he was a Visiting Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington D.C.
Ambassador Burns served in the United States Foreign Service for twenty-seven years until his retirement in April 2008. He was Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 2005 to 2008, the nation’s highest-ranking career diplomat. In this position, he led negotiations on Iran, India, Kosovo and many other issues and oversaw U.S. diplomatic efforts in each region of the world. Prior to that, he was United States Ambassador to NATO from 2001 to 2005 and Ambassador to Greece from 1997 to 2001. During his career in the State Department, Ambassador Burns was State Department Spokesman for Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher (1995-1997). He also served for five years (1990-1995) at the White House during the collapse of the Soviet Union where he was Special Assistant to the President for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia Affairs and a member of the National Security Council staff.
Ambassador Burns also served in the American Consulate General in Jerusalem in 1985-87 when he coordinated U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinian people in the West Bank, and at the American Embassies in Egypt and Mauritania. He has received honorary doctorates from ten American universities, the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award (from Condoleezza Rice), the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from the Johns Hopkins University and the Boston College Alumni Achievement Award.
He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Order of Saint John and Red Sox Nation.
Ambassador Burns has a BA in History from Boston College (1978) where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He has an MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (1980). He also earned the Certificat Pratique de Langue Francaise at the Sorbonne in 1977.