Secretary William Cohen
Chairman, The Cohen Group
William Cohen is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Cohen Group. Based in Washington, D.C., the Cohen Group provides global business consulting services and advice on tactical and strategic opportunities in virtually every market.
Secretary Cohen was elected Congressman for the State of Maine and served from 1973-1979. He attained national prominence as a freshman Republican Congressman when he was tasked by the House Judiciary Committee to build on national television, the evidentiary base for impeachment of President Richard Nixon. In addition, he traveled to Thailand in 1974 to reassure the country of U.S. support following the U.S. military withdrawal from Vietnam. That same year, TIME Magazine named him as one of “America’s 200 Future Leaders,” and the following year the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce named him one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Men in America.”
In 1978, he was elected into the U.S. Senate, where he served until 1997. His first year as Senator, Secretary Cohen was Chairman of the Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Force Projection Subcommittee and the Governmental Affairs Committee’s Government Oversight Subcommittee. Later, as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Aging, Secretary Cohen led efforts to improve the efficiency of Medicare and other healthcare programs and was a central player in the healthcare reform debates of the 1990s. Secretary Cohen also was a Member of the Select Committee on Intelligence for a decade, serving half that time as Vice Chairman, overseeing a large budget involving some of the nation’s most advanced technology. He also served on the “Iran-Contra Committee.”
President Bill Clinton asked Secretary Cohen to lead the Department of Defense, a position he assumed in January 1997 until 2001. Under his leadership, the U.S. military conducted the largest air warfare campaign since World War II, in Serbia and Kosovo, and conducted other military operations on every continent. During his tenure, Secretary Cohen held substantive meetings with foreign leaders in over 60 countries.
Secretary Cohen chaired the Middle East Study Group of the Council on Foreign Relations, where he served on the Board of Directors from 1989-1997. He has chaired and served on numerous other study groups and committees at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the School for Advanced International Studies, and the Brookings Institute. He established and led U.S. delegations to the annual Pacific Dialogue in Kuala Lumpur, as well as the American-Arab Dialogue in Cairo, both regional conferences on economic and security issues. Beginning in 1985, he led the U.S. delegation of senior Executive Branch officials and Members of Congress to the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy, which brings together senior government and industrial officials from throughout Europe and Asia. He also launched the William S. Cohen Center for International Policy and Commerce at the University of Maine.