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Nelson W. Cunningham

Vice Chair, McLarty Associates

Photograph of Nelson W. Cunningham

900 17th St NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006

+1.202.419.7090 Main
+1.202.841.1132 Mobile

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Nelson W. Cunningham is the Vice Chair and Co-Founder of McLarty Associates, an Ankura company. Under Nelson’s prior leadership as President, McLarty Associates developed into a firm with global reach and over one hundred employees and advisors in 21 countries around the world. As Vice Chair, Nelson now provides counsel on the firm’s strategic direction and guides the relationship between McLarty Associates and Ankura Consulting Group. He is based in Washington, DC.


Prior to co-founding McLarty Associates in 1998, Nelson 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, Nelson 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.

Nelson is active on foreign policy and political matters and frequently speaks to audiences in the United States and abroad. 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 many others.

He is a past member of the State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy and the Secretary of State’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board, and is the former Chairman of the Export-Import Bank Advisory Committee.

Additionally, Nelson serves as Vice Chairman of the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) and is a member of the boards of Yale-NUS College in Singapore, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the American Security Project, the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, and the Institute of the Americas. He is also a member of the Yale President’s Council on International Activities and the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as the national leadership council of the News Literacy Project. A lawyer by training, Nelson is a member of the DC, New York, and Massachusetts bars.

Nelson 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 was raised in Latin America and has lived in seven different countries throughout the region. Nelson speaks Spanish fluently and French passably.

  • JD, Stanford Law School
  • BA, Yale College
  • American Security Project
  • Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU)
  • Council on Foreign Relations
  • Institute of the Americas
  • NAFSA: Association of International Educators
  • News Literacy Project
  • US-India Strategic Partnership Forum
  • Yale-NUS College in Singapore
  • Yale President’s Council on International Activities

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