Press Release - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Ambassadors Victoria Nuland and Thomas Shannon Join Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center

| Oct. 03, 2019

Cambridge, MA – Harvard Kennedy School has named two former senior U.S. Foreign Service Officers – Ambassador Victoria Nuland, former Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, and Ambassador Thomas Shannon, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs – as non-resident Senior Fellows with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

“I am delighted that two of America’s finest career diplomats, Victoria Nuland and Tom Shannon, will join our Future of Diplomacy Project. They will be of immeasurable help as we seek to promote the study and practice of diplomacy as a primary agent for the U.S. and other countries in building a more stable and peaceful world. They will be exemplary role models for our students planning careers of their own in public service,” said Nicholas Burns, Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations at Harvard Kennedy School and faculty chair of the Future of Diplomacy Project.

Nuland and Shannon will share their expertise with Kennedy School students and fellows through seminars and study groups on campus and will contribute to the Project’s goal of advancing the public understanding of diplomatic practice through research and analysis of foreign policy in the United States, Latin America, and the European Union. Ambassador Nuland will be on campus on October 28 to reflect on the current state of transatlantic relations in conversation with faculty, fellows, and students, while Ambassador Shannon will take up his fellowship in November with a public event to reflect on the state of American diplomacy with a particular emphasis on relations with Western Hemisphere countries.

Ambassador Nuland is currently Senior Counselor at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategic advisory and commercial diplomacy firm based in Washington, D.C. She is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Distinguished Practitioner in Grand Strategy at Yale University, and a Member of the Board of the National Endowment for Democracy. In 2018, she was CEO of the Center for a New American Security.

A U.S. diplomat for 32 years, Nuland served as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from September 2013 until January 2017 under President Barack Obama and Secretary John Kerry. She was State Department Spokesperson during Secretary Hillary Clinton’s tenure, and U.S. Ambassador to NATO during President George W. Bush’s second term. Nuland served as Special Envoy and chief negotiator on the Treaty on Conventional Arms Control in Europe from 2010-2011, and as Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Cheney from 2003-2005. In addition to two tours at NATO in Brussels, she has served overseas in Russia, China, and Mongolia, and in various assignments at the State Department in Washington. Nuland has a B.A. in history from Brown University. 

Ambassador Shannon is Senior International Policy Advisor with the law firm Arnold & Porter and co-chair of its Global Law and Public Policy practice. He is also co-chair of the board of the Inter-American Dialogue and serves concurrently at Princeton University as the Co-Director of the Program in the History and Practice of Diplomacy. He is also the Charles and Marie Robertson Visiting Professor and Lecturer in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Most recently, Shannon served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the third highest position at the State Department. Holding the personal rank of Career Ambassador, he was the highest-ranking member of the United States Foreign Service, the country’s professional diplomatic corps. During his tenure as Under Secretary from 2016-2018. Ambassador Shannon was in charge of bilateral and multilateral foreign policymaking and implementation and oversaw diplomatic activity globally and in the U.S. missions to international organizations. He managed the State Department during the presidential transition, led bilateral and strategic stability talks with the Russian Federation, worked with U.S. allies to oversee Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and expanded U.S. engagement in Central Asia.

Prior to that appointment, Shannon served as Counselor of the Department, where he acted as a troubleshooter and roving envoy for Secretary of State John Kerry. Ahead of his 2016 appointment by President Obama as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, he was the United States Ambassador to Brazil. Earlier, Shannon served in many posts, including as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council, and U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States.

Shannon has a D. Phil and M. Phil in Politics from Oxford University. He graduated with High Honors from The College of William and Mary with a B.A. in Government and Philosophy.

Shannon and Nuland join eight distinguished leaders currently serving as Future of Diplomacy Project Fellows: Douglas Lute, former U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO; Dina Powell, former U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy; Jake Sullivan, Montgomery Fellow, Dartmouth College, and former Director of Policy Planning, U.S. Department of State; Douglas Alexander, Senior Advisor to Bono and former U.K. Shadow Foreign Secretary; Robert Danin, Senior Middle East Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; Paula Dobriansky, former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs; David Ignatius, author and Washington Post columnist; and Farah Pandith, former State Department Special Representative to Muslim Communities.

Led by R. Nicholas Burns (Faculty Chair) and Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook (Executive Director), the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs is dedicated to promoting the study and understanding of diplomacy, negotiation, and statecraft in international politics today. The Project aims to build Harvard Kennedy School’s ability to teach in this area, to support research in modern diplomatic practice, and to build public understanding of diplomacy’s indispensable role in an increasingly complex and globalized world.


Contact: Sharon Wilke, Associate Director of Communications, 617.495.9858,

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:Ambassadors Victoria Nuland and Thomas Shannon Join Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center.” Press Release, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, October 3, 2019.