John J. Sullivan

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  • Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia (2019-2022)
  • Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State (2017-2019) and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce (2007-2009)
  • Recipient of the Secretary of Defense’s Medal for Exceptional Public Service and the Secretary of State's Distinguished Service Award
  • Distinguished Fellow at the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University



Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John J. Sullivan was appointed a Distinguished Fellow at Georgetown University effective November 1, 2022, after retiring from a career in public service that has spanned four decades and five U.S. presidents.  Before his most recent post in Moscow, Ambassador Sullivan served as the 19th U.S. Deputy Secretary of State from 2017 to 2019, as well as the Acting U.S. Secretary of State in March-April 2018. In the Obama Administration, he was chairman of the U.S.-Iraq Business Dialogue, a government advisory committee on U.S.-Iraq commercial relations.  In the private sector, as a partner in the global law firm MayerBrown LLP, Ambassador Sullivan was a sought-after advisor to CEOs, general counsels, and senior executives.

A graduate of Brown University, Ambassador Sullivan attended Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and Book Reviews Editor of the Columbia Law Review.  He served as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter and Judge John Minor Wisdom.  Ambassador Sullivan is a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Secretary of State's Distinguished Service Award, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's Joint Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the Secretary of Defense’s Medal for Exceptional Public Service, and many others. 

For the last three years, Ambassador Sullivan managed the U.S. Embassy in Russia during its most difficult period in many decades, exemplifying service, leadership, and crisis management through unprecedented challenges.  His vast experience and insights contribute to riveting programs about global affairs, the impacts of national security and foreign policy on industries and business, and much more.

 

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News Analysis - U.S. Ambassador To Russia: Putin Isn't Interested In Diplomacy At This Point | MSNBC Morning Joe [11:34] - Get Sharable Link
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International Affairs: Russia and the War in Ukraine, a Diplomat’s Perspective

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John J. Sullivan managed the U.S. Embassy in Moscow during its most difficult period in many decades. In this compelling program, Ambassador Sullivan shares an unparalleled perspective from his seasoned career in public service, offering insights that resonate with a ...

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John J. Sullivan managed the U.S. Embassy in Moscow during its most difficult period in many decades. In this compelling program, Ambassador Sullivan shares an unparalleled perspective from his seasoned career in public service, offering insights that resonate with audiences of all kinds.

The Importance of American Democracy

In this riveting keynote program, former Ambassador John J. Sullivan speaks to the global importance of our American democracy and what actions Americans need to take to safeguard it. Having served for over four decades in a career spanning five presidents, Ambassador Sullivan offers vital insights ...

In this riveting keynote program, former Ambassador John J. Sullivan speaks to the global importance of our American democracy and what actions Americans need to take to safeguard it. Having served for over four decades in a career spanning five presidents, Ambassador Sullivan offers vital insights about the role of bipartisanship in preserving American democracy on the world stage.

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<p><strong>Former U.S. Ambassador John J. Sullivan offers a wide-reaching perspective on the context and future implications of Russia’s War in Ukraine</strong></p>

Former U.S. Ambassador John J. Sullivan offers a wide-reaching perspective on the context and future implications of Russia’s War in Ukraine

Few things impact all aspects of business, society, and global events as much as what’s happening in Russia and Ukraine, and no one can speak more authoritatively on that topic than former United States Ambassador to Russia, John J. Sullivan. Known for his eminent career in public service, AMBASSADOR SULLIVAN speaks to the history, context, current events, and future implications of what is happening now in Russia and Ukraine. Ambassador Sullivan managed the U.S. Embassy in Russia – the most sensitive U.S. diplomatic post at this most critical time in history – exemplifying service, leadership, and crisis management through unprecedented challenges. While the seasoned statesman has spent considerable time in the room with Putin, the Ambassador frames the conversation as bigger than one individual, speaking to the vital importance of American democracy on the world stage. Having served two presidents in Moscow, he lays out the stakes for the United States and the world in addressing Russia's aggressive war in Europe. In riveting keynote presentations, Ambassador Sullivan brings the gravitas of a diplomat who has helped shape the global events of our time.

Watch Ambassador John J. Sullivan at the U.S. Institute of Peace >>

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Ambassador Sullivan is a Distinguished Fellow at the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University. His career spans four decades in the public sector and in private law practice. Ambassador Sullivan served five presidents in prominent diplomatic and legal positions, including as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation under Presidents Joe Biden (January 2021 to October 2022) and Donald Trump (December 2019 to January 2021). Before his post in Moscow, he served for almost three years as the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State after a bipartisan 94-6 confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate in 2017.  As deputy secretary, Ambassador Sullivan was responsible for both the formulation and conduct of U.S. foreign policy and the management of the State Department’s global operations. He was the acting Secretary of State in March-April 2018, among the longest tenures in history of anyone in that position.

In the private sector, Ambassador Sullivan was a partner in the global law firm Mayer Brown LLP, where he co-chaired the national security practice and focused on the complex intersections of global trade and investment and U.S. national security and foreign policies. From 2010 to 2016, he served by appointment of the Obama Administration as Chair of the U.S.-Iraq Business Dialogue, a government advisory committee of business leaders on U.S. commercial relations with Iraq.

Previously, Ambassador Sullivan held senior positions in the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Commerce in two prior administrations. Until January 2009, he was the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce under President George W. Bush, following his service from 2005 to 2007 as the General Counsel of the Department. In President Bush’s first term, he was appointed Deputy General Counsel of the Defense Department by Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. In the George H.W. Bush Administration, Ambassador Sullivan was Counselor to Assistant Attorney General J. Michael Luttig in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Ambassador Sullivan received his bachelor’s degree from Brown University and his law degree from the Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and Book Reviews Editor of the Columbia Law Review. He was a law clerk for Associate Justice David H. Souter of the Supreme Court of the United States, and for Judge John Minor Wisdom of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Ambassador Sullivan is a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy. He is also the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Secretary of State's Distinguished Service Award; the Department of State's Distinguished Honor Award; the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency's Ambassador of the Year Award; the Defense Intelligence Director's Award; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's Joint Meritorious Civilian Service Award; the Secretary of Defense's Medal for Exceptional Public Service; and the Columbia University School of Law, DC Alumni Association, Distinguished Alumnus Award.