California Judge Cuellar to Lead Carnegie Endowment

An immigrant and Obama White House aide, Mr. Cuellar takes over an institution with close ties to President Biden.

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WASHINGTON — The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, an influential Washington-based think tank, has appointed Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar of California’s Supreme Court as its new president.

Mr. Cuellar, who goes by Tino, specialized in international relations during a decade on the faculty of Stanford University before becoming a judge in January 2015. He also served as a special assistant in the Obama White House.

In an interview, he said he planned to focus on complex emerging global challenges, including climate change and cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence.

He also said he would bring “a fresh perspective” to the position: Born in Mexico, Mr. Cuellar, 49, immigrated to the United States at the age of 14 and became a U.S. citizen when he was 21. He earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard University before attending Yale Law School, and then earning a Ph.D. in political science from Stanford.

He succeeds William J. Burns, a career diplomat whom President Biden tapped to be Central Intelligence Agency director earlier this year. Mr. Biden picked several other Carnegie personnel for key jobs in his administration, including his White House communications director, Jen Psaki, and the head of the State Department’s policy planning staff, Salman Ahmed.

Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, was a nonresident senior fellow at Carnegie when he worked with Mr. Ahmed and several other co-authors on a plan articulating a “foreign policy for the middle class” that previewed a recurring Biden administration theme. Mr. Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry, had an office at Carnegie as its visiting distinguished statesman.

The Carnegie Endowment was founded in 1910 by the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who hoped to “hasten the abolition of international war.” With an annual budget of $40 million, it is home to 250 scholars worldwide, many with past government experience, who study and shape U.S. foreign policy.

Mr. Cuellar said the Carnegie Endowment was “committed to improving global cooperation without being naive,” and that its goal was to “take a set of challenges that academics can identify and turn into actionable global policies.”

His appointment is effective on Nov. 1.

The endowment runs offices in Moscow, New Delhi, Beirut, Beijing and Brussels; Mr. Cuellar plans to open a West Coast office in Silicon Valley.

In a statement, the Carnegie Endowment board chair, Penny Pritzker, a former secretary of commerce during the Obama administration, said Mr. Cuellar brought “an intellectual heft that will help us in our impactful work to build peace and prosperity.”

Condoleezza Rice, a former secretary of state and Stanford University provost who now heads Stanford’s Hoover Institution, a conservative research center, called Mr. Cuellar “incredibly energetic” and said that his background as an immigrant gave him an appreciation for diversity, something Mr. Cuellar himself called an important goal.

Mr. Cuellar was a special assistant to President Barack Obama for justice and regulatory policy. As a faculty member at Stanford, he served as director of the university’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

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