Nelson Cunningham

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Person.png Nelson Cunningham   TwitterRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(lawyer, deep state operative)
Nelson Cunningham.png
Alma materYale University, Stanford University
Member ofAtlantic Council, Council on Foreign Relations/Members, Kissinger Associates, McLarty Associates, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, Truman National Security Project/Board
Interests • Latin America
• Export–Import Bank of the United States
Well-connected Kissinger associate

Nelson Cunningham is an American attorney and a Democratic political advisor who served in the presidential administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and also advised Joe Biden.

He is a member of the Department of State’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy, a past member of the Secretary of State’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board, and past Chairman of the Export-Import Bank Advisory Committee.[1]

A member of Kissinger Associates, he is a co-founder of the Democratic Party's security think-tank Truman Project[2] and an active member of the equally deep state Atlantic Council.[1]

Early life and education

He spent much of his childhood in Latin America, where he lived in seven different countries throughout the region and became fluent in Spanish.[3] He attended Yale University (class of 1980) and Stanford Law School, where he edited the Stanford Law Review.[2][4]


After graduating from law school, Cunningham worked for Hale and Dorr, a private law firm in Boston.[5] In 1984 he was a staffer on the successful Senate campaign of John Kerry[1]. In 1988, he was hired by Rudolph Giuliani to serve as federal prosecutor in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.[6]

In 1994 and 1995,[7] he served as General Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee under then-chairman Joe Biden.[8] He served on the White House staff under President Bill Clinton as Special Advisor to the President for Western Hemisphere affairs and advised the John Kerry 2004 presidential campaign on foreign policy and trade issues. He was also a member of the ObamaBiden transition team after their electoral victory in 2008.[9]

In 1998, he co-founded Kissinger McLarty Associates (KMA), where he served as managing partner, a role he continues at McLarty Associates, one of the two successors to KMA. McLarty is a Washington, D.C.-based strategic advisory firm that advises companies on government and strategic issues around the world.

As of 2009, he serves on several boards, including the Institute of the Americas, the Business Council for International Understanding, the American Security Project, and the US-India Business Council. He also chairs the New Democratic Network's Latin America Policy Initiative and is a member of the Yale President's Council on International Activities and the United States Department of State's Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy.[4][2]

Additionally, Cunningham serves as President of the Board of the American Security Project, a think tank founded by then-Senator John Kerry in 2005; Vice Chair of the boards of the Business Council for International Understanding(BCIU) and of the Institute of the Americas; and is past Chair of NDN’s Latin America Policy Initiative. Nelson is also on the board of the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers(NAFSA). He is an active member of the boards of the Atlantic Council and the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, and is a member of the Yale President’s Council on International Activities, the Council of the Americas, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

After Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 United States presidential election, Cunningham has been mentioned as a possible appointee for a position within the Office of the United States Trade Representative.[10]


Events Participated in

Brussels Forum/201421 March 201424 March 2014Belgium
Yearly discreet get-together of huge amount of transatlantic politicians, media and military and corporations, under the auspices of the CIA-close German Marshall Fund. The theme in 2014 was A World in Transition
Brussels Forum/201520 March 201522 March 2015Germany
North Rhine-Westphalia
Yearly discreet get-together of huge amount of transatlantic politicians, media and military and corporations, under the auspices of the CIA-close German Marshall Fund. The 2015 main theme was (R)evolution.
WEF/Annual Meeting/200421 January 200425 January 2004World Economic Forum
2068 billionaires, CEOs and their politicians and "civil society" leaders met under the slogan Partnering for Prosperity and Security. "We have the people who matter," said World Economic Forum Co-Chief Executive Officer José María Figueres.
WEF/Annual Meeting/201126 January 201130 January 2011World Economic Forum
2229 guests in Davos
WEF/Annual Meeting/201323 January 201327 January 2013World Economic Forum
2500 mostly unelected leaders met to discuss "leading through adversity"
WEF/Annual Meeting/201717 January 201720 January 2017World Economic Forum
2951 known participants
WEF/Annual Meeting/201922 January 201925 January 2019World Economic Forum


  1. a b c
  2. a b c
  4. a b Managing Political Risk 2009 - Speaker Biographies, The Fletcher School, Tufts University, 2009. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
  5. Reputation, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (successor firm to Hale and Dorr). Retrieved 2010-08-27.
  8. The United States & Colombia: What comes next?, Center for American Progress; biographical note for a July 18, 2006 event. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
  9. Cunningham, Nelson, (Center for Responsive Politics), retrieved 2010-08-27, gives the dates 1995-98, and erroneously refers to the position as "Senate Executive Office of the President Committee" rather than "Executive Office of the President". Cunningham's own page on LinkedIn, retrieved 2010-08-27, says he served as "Special Advisor to the President, Office of Special Envoy for the Americas" in 1997–1998