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John Kerry lands another gig: ‘visiting distinguished statesman’ at think tank

Former secretary of state John Kerry.AP/File

WASHINGTON — John Kerry clearly intends to stay busy in his post-government life, announcing Wednesday a new affiliation with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The former Secretary of State and Massachusetts senator will serve as the think tank’s first-ever “visiting distinguished statesman,” a role in which he will work on global environmental problems as well as conflict resolution, according to Carnegie.

The position is the latest pursuit Kerry has lined up to fill the newest phase of his life. He recently announced he would head up a new global initiative at Yale University, a post that will include some teaching. He also is working on a memoir.


“The Carnegie Endowment is synonymous with serious, substantive, strategic work toward peace and progress, informed always by independent, non-partisan analysis. I am excited to be working with Carnegie to continue the pursuit of fresh answers to vexing problems both new and old,” Kerry said in a press release announcing the affiliation.

Kerry singled out by name the think tank’s president, former ambassador Bill Burns, as a reason he was drawn to the gig. Kerry first got to know Burns, a longtime foreign service official who served as US ambassador to both Russia and Jordan, when Kerry served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was working on opening a secret diplomatic back channel to Iran via Oman. That secret dialogue would bolster Kerry’s ability as Secretary of State to ink an historic nuclear agreement with Iran in 2013.

Burns delayed his retirement as deputy secretary of state several times at the request of Kerry and then-President Obama. He stepped down as the nation’s No. 2 diplomat in October 2014.

In the waning days of the Obama administration, Kerry indicated in interviews with the Globe that he hoped to continue to play a role in world affairs even after he left his formal position as the nation’s top diplomat. A source close to Kerry said the Massachusetts Democrat considers former Senator George Mitchell, who took a lead role in the peace negotiations in Northern Ireland, as one such model of “quiet, determined” diplomatic work of former government officials. Former President George W. Bush, who defeated Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, is another for the work he continued in Afghanistan and Africa after he left the White House.


“He’s always had the view that this work is a service to those currently serving in government, of any political party, and a way to surface new ideas in constructive ways,” this person said.

Victoria McGrane can be reached at victoria.mcgrane@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @vgmac.