Craig Kennedy

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Person.png Craig Kennedy Sourcewatch TwitterRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Craig kennedy.png
Alma materUniversity of Chicago
Member ofAtlantik-Brücke, Council on Foreign Relations/Members 2, German Marshall Fund, Project for the New American Century
president of the German Marshall Fund in the period 1996-2014

Craig Kennedy was the president of the German Marshall Fund in the period 1996-2014.


Craig Kennedy began his career in 1980 as a program officer at the Joyce Foundation in Chicago. From 1983 to 1986, he was vice president of programs for Joyce. As president of the Joyce Foundation from 1986 to 1992, Kennedy built the Foundation’s environmental program and launched a new program on U.S. immigration policy (as an aside hinting at deep state or intelligence connections, U.S. President Barack Obama served on Joyce's board of directors from 1994 through 2002[1]).

Kennedy left the Joyce Foundation to work for Richard J. Dennis, a Chicago investor and philanthropist. During this same period, Kennedy created a consulting firm working with nonprofit and public sector clients. [2]

German Marshall Fund

Craig Kennedy was president of the German Marshall Fund in the period 1996-2014, leading the push into Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Kennedy wrote: "...we were at the vanguard of working in Central and Eastern Europe. We were on the front lines of NATO expansion to include many of those countries. We continue to work in the Balkans, the Black Sea region, and Turkey — areas that can be integrated further still into Euroatlantic structures. And our seven offices in Europe have us uniquely positioned to integrate local, regional, and global perspectives in confronting the world’s challenges."[3]

GMF Berlin Office Director Heike MacKerron described the arrival and early days of Craig Kennedy’s tenure: "When Craig Kennedy joined GMF, he came to Germany and he listened. That was so important to the Germans, and has had a fundamentally positive impact on our relationship with Germany. First of all, he was new. He was not from the security establishment that still dominated transatlantic relations. He was not from the State Department or NATO; he, in fact, was from Chicago, from the foundation community. And he simply asked people, what should we be doing? He then initiated a review of all of our programs, terminated some, and began new ones."[4]

“For the first few years I would go to Europe, and Germany in particular, at least once a month”, said Kennedy. Under Kennedy’s leadership, GMF focused its activities on bridging U.S.–European differences on foreign policy, economics, immigration and the environment. An aspect of that strategy included supporting over twenty American and European policy research institutions that are actively involved in shaping transatlantic cooperation.

Kennedy also expanded the GMF’s programs in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. A major accomplishment of that effort was the launch in 2003 of the Balkan Trust for Democracy, a $27 million grantmaking initiative to groom a generation of dependent politicians {"strengthen select civil society and democracy"), in partnership with USAID, and the Dutch, Swedish and Greek governments, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Similar efforts were the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, and the Fund for Belarus Democracy.

Expanding GMF’s capacities as a public policy institution has been another of Kennedy’s goals. Toward this effort, he opened new offices in Paris, Bratislava, Brussels, Belgrade, and Ankara to complement the work being done in Washington DC and Berlin. Another key program, the Transatlantic Fellows program, was begun under Kennedy’s direction and provides journalists, policy analysts, and academics selected for potential recruitment an opportunity to pursue their research and writing interests in one of GMF’s offices.

Kennedy serves on the Board of the nonprofit Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, the Rocky Mountain Institute, the European Foundation Center, and as an independent trustee of the Van Kampen mutual funds.