Kurt Volker

Executive Director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership
U.S. Ambassador to NATO, 2008-09

Kurt Volker is Executive Director of the McCain Institute for International Leadership, part of Arizona State University.  He served as U.S. Ambassador to NATO in 2008-2009.  Since leaving government, he has been involved with a variety of think-tank and business consulting activities. He remains active as a Senior Advisor to the Atlantic Council, and a Senior Fellow with the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.  He has previously served as Managing Director – International for BGR Group and Senior Advisor at McLarty Associates. Ambassador Volker is on the Board of the Wall Street Fund, and is a Trustee of the Institute for American Universities in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Ambassador Volker contributes regularly to public policy debates, with frequent appearances on BBC, Al Jazeera English, CNN, Fox News, and with articles in such publications as La Stampa, the Christian Science Monitor, Handelsblatt, the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, The American Interest, Policy Review, the Washington Times, and Europe’s World. 

Ambassador Volker was a career member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service, with over 23 years of experience working on European policy under five U.S. Administrations. He served as Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from July 2, 2008 until May 17, 2009 – straddling the transition from the Bush to the Obama Administrations. His tenure at NATO saw Russia’s invasion of Georgia, the ramp up of military efforts in Afghanistan, the return of France to NATO’s military structure, the enlargement of NATO to 28 members, and NATO’s 60th Anniversary Summit in Strasbourg, France.

From July 2005 until June 2008, Ambassador Volker served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. Working with Europe to address the common challenges faced by our democratic societies in the 21st century, he was responsible for U.S. policy on U.S.-European Union relations, NATO, the OSCE, and our numerous bilateral relationships. He oversaw strategic planning and congressional relations, and was responsible for management of roughly 78 overseas posts, 300 domestic employees, and a budget of $400 million.

Ambassador Volker previously served as Acting Senior Director for European and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council (NSC).  He served at the NSC for four years, where as Director for NATO and West Europe, he oversaw preparations for the Prague (2002) and Istanbul (2004) NATO Summits.

From 1999 to 2001, Ambassador Volker was Deputy Director of the Private Office of then-NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson.  As a State Department Legislative Fellow in the U.S. Senate from 1997-1998, Ambassador Volker worked on foreign policy matters for Senator John McCain. His prior Foreign Service assignments include Brussels, Budapest, London, and several positions in the U.S. Department of State.

Ambassador Volker has a B.A. from Temple University and an M.A. in International Relations from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.  He has studied in Sweden and France and speaks Hungarian, Swedish and French. He is married and has two daughters.