Thomas E. Donilon, former national security adviser to President Barack Obama, will join the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) this month as a distinguished fellow. Donilon, who became a CFR member nearly two decades ago, will be based at the organization’s office in Washington, DC.
"Tom Donilon has been at the center of consequential national security decisions over the last four and a half years, including winding down U.S. military engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan, increasing the U.S. profile in the Asia-Pacific region, and balancing the requirement for intelligence with the need to protect privacy," said CFR President Richard N. Haass. "We are thrilled to have someone with his experience and record of service to the country at the Council on Foreign Relations."
In his remarks from the Rose Garden last month, President Obama said, "Tom is that rare combination of the strategic and the tactical. He has a strategic sense of where we need to go, and he has a tactical sense of how to get there." Calling Donilon "one of the most effective national security advisers our country has ever had," Obama noted, "Here at the White House, Tom oversaw the operation that led us to bin Laden." He added, "I’m especially appreciative to Tom for helping us renew American leadership in the Asia Pacific, where so much of our future security and prosperity will be shaped."
Previously, Donilon served as assistant to the president and principal deputy national security adviser. He has worked closely with and advised three U.S. presidents since his first position at the White House in 1977 under President Jimmy Carter. He also served as assistant secretary of state and chief of staff at the State Department during the Bill Clinton administration.
Prior to his government service, Donilon was a partner at the international law firm O’Melveny & Myers.
He has received the Department of State Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award, the National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal, the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award, and the CIA Director’s Award.
Donilon has been a member of the Aspen Strategy Group, the National Security Advisory Group to the Congressional Leadership, the Brookings Institution Board of Trustees, the Miller Center of Public Affairs Governing Council, and the Trilateral Commission.
He received his undergraduate degree from Catholic University and his law degree from the University of Virginia.