William J. Burns is president of the Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, the oldest international affairs think tank in the
United States. Burns retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2014 after
a 33-year diplomatic career. He holds the highest rank in the Foreign
Service, career ambassador, and is only the second serving career
diplomat in history to become deputy secretary of state.
Prior to his tenure as deputy secretary, Burns served from 2008 to
2011 as under secretary for political affairs. He was ambassador to
Russia from 2005 to 2008, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern
affairs from 2001 to 2005, and ambassador to Jordan from 1998 to 2001.
His other posts in the Foreign Service include: executive secretary of
the State Department and special assistant to former secretaries of
state Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright; and minister-counselor
for political affairs at the U.S. embassy in Moscow; among other posts.
Burns has been the recipient of three Presidential Distinguished
Service Awards and numerous Department of State awards, including three
Secretary’s Distinguished Service Awards, two Distinguished Honor
Awards, the 2006 Charles E. Cobb, Jr. Ambassadorial Award for Initiative
and Success in Trade Development, and the 2005 Robert C. Frasure
Memorial Award for Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking.
Burns earned a bachelor’s in history from LaSalle University and
master’s and doctoral degrees in international relations from Oxford
University, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar.