Off-the-Record with former Ambassador to the UN Donald McHenry

PSA held a special off-the-record CPP dinner with PSA Advisory Board member Donald McHenry, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. The discussion focused on Amb. McHenry’s service in the United Nations, how the U.S. can use its leadership position in the UN to advance U.S. priorities today, and the future of U.S. engagement in intergovernmental organizations.

This event was held as part of the Fall 2013 Congressional Partnership Program. To learn more about the program, please visit


Donald F. McHenry, US Ambassador to the UN 1979-81

Donald F. McHenry served as Ambassador and U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations from September 1979 until January 20, 1981.

As chief United States representative to the United Nations, he also served as a member of President Carter’s Cabinet. At the time of his appointment, Ambassador McHenry was Ambassador and U.S. Deputy Representative to the UN Security Council, a position to which he was appointed in March 1977.
Ambassador McHenry has studied, taught and worked primarily in the fields of foreign policy and international law and organizations. He joined the U.S. Department of State in 1963 and served eight years in various positions related to U.S. foreign policy. In 1966 he received the Department’s Superior Honor Award. In 1971, while on leave from the Department, he was a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C. and an International Affairs Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, New York. In 1973, after leaving the State Department, he joined the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. as a project director in Humanitarian Policy Studies. In 1976 he served as a member of President Carter’s transition staff at the State Department before joining the U.S. Mission to the UN.

During his career, Ambassador McHenry represented the United States in a number of international fora and as the U.S. negotiator on the question on Namibia. He served as Presidential Envoy to Nigeria; a member of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s eminent persons mission to Algeria; and, leader of a consulting mission on Senegal elections.


Activity after public service

Ambassador McHenry is a former member of the Board of Governors of the American Stock Exchange, the Board of Directors of Fleet Boston Financial, GlaxoSmithKline, AT&T, International Paper, the Council of Foreign Relations, the Board of Trustees of the Ford Foundation, the Johnson Foundation, the National Institute for Dispute Resolution, Mount Holyoke College, Mayo Foundation, and the World Peace Foundation.

Ambassador McHenry has taught at Southern Illinois, Howard, American and Georgetown Universities. He is the author of Micronesia: Trust Betrayed (Carnegie Endowment, 1975) and numerous other articles published in professional journals and newspapers.

Ambassador McHenry is currently a Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Board Director of the Coca-Cola Company
  • Chairman of the Ford Foundation International Fellowships Fund
  • Chairman Emeritus of Africare
  • Director of the Institute for International Education, Illinois State University Foundation
  • Director of The American Assembly
  • Director, the American Ditchley Foundation
  • Director, the Peterson Institute For International Economics
  • Honorary Director, The Brookings Institution
  • Member of Board of Governors of Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute
  • Member of Institute for International Economics
  • Editorial Board Member of Foreign Policy Magazine
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Trustee Emeritus of Columbia University
  • Trustee Emeritus of Mayo Foundation
  • Senior Advisor to the National Democratic Institute
  • Advisor to the Women’s Foreign Policy Group
  • Advisor to the Washington Centre