Nelson W. Cunningham
Nelson W. Cunningham is President and Co-Founder of McLarty Associates.
Under Mr. Cunningham’s leadership, McLarty Associates has developed into a firm with global reach and over eighty employees and advisors, stationed in Washington and around the world.
Mr. Cunningham is responsible for guiding our service to clients and is a skilled strategist on national and international policy issues. He travels extensively on firm business, helping ensure that we bring to our clients the broadest range of regional expertise and transnational perspectives.
Prior to co-founding McLarty Associates in 1998, Mr. Cunningham served in the White House as Special Advisor to President Clinton on Western Hemisphere affairs and as General Counsel at the White House Office of Administration. He previously served as General Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, under then-Chairman Joseph R. Biden. Before moving to Washington, Mr. Cunningham served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1988 until 1994, having been hired by Rudolph Giuliani, and in 1984 he was a staffer on the successful Senate campaign of John Kerry.
Mr. Cunningham is active on foreign policy and political matters and frequently speaks to audiences in the United States and abroad. 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. He also served as a member of the Obama-Biden Transition Team and an advisor during the campaign, and was a foreign policy and trade advisor to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, as well as to several presidential and Senate campaigns.
Additionally, Mr. Cunningham serves as Acting Chairman of the board of the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) and is on the board of the American Security Project, a think tank founded by then-Senator John Kerry in 2005, Mr. Cunningham is also on the boards of Yale-NUS College in Singapore, a member of the Yale President’s Council on International Activities, and on the board of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. He is an active member of the board of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, the Institute of the Americas, the Council of the Americas, and the Council on Foreign Relations. A lawyer by training, Mr. Cunningham is a member of the DC, New York, and Massachusetts bars.
Mr. Cunningham is a magna cum laude graduate of Yale College and Stanford Law School, where he served as an editor of the Stanford Law Review. He is a frequent commentator on legal and political issues, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, Fox, NPR and other news programs, and he has written for The Washington Post, POLITICO, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. He was raised in Latin America and has lived in seven different countries throughout the region. Mr. Cunningham speaks Spanish fluently and French passably.