Nicholas Burns is Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project and Faculty Chair for the Programs on the Middle East and on India and South Asia. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
He is Director of the Aspen Strategy Group, Senior Counselor at the Cohen Group, Vice Chairman of the American Ditchley Foundation, and serves on the Board of Directors of Entegris, Inc. and the Advisory Board for Veracity Worldwide. Burns serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Center for a New American Security, the Atlantic Council, and is a member of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He also serves on the Panel of Senior Advisors at Chatham House: the Royal Institute of International Affairs and on the Board of the Associates of the Boston Public Library. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Order of Saint John, and Red Sox Nation.
Professor 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 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) and 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 and Mauritania.
Professor Burns has received twelve honorary degrees, the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from the Johns Hopkins University, and the Boston College Alumni Achievement Award. 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.