U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del)

Date & time

Apr 14, 2022, 12:00-2:00 pm EDT


This is a Virtual Event.

Join us for a special pair of discussions on foreign policy priorities and global challenges with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE).  Sen. Coons will discuss the foreign and domestic policy implications of the war in Ukraine. Next, Secretary Blinken will participate in a moderated conversation on 21st century diplomacy. Both conversations will be facilitated by Ford School Dean Michael Barr at the Ford School's fourth annual Vandenberg Lecture.

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman will provide a special welcome at noon EDT, followed by the discussion between Senator Coons and Barr for one hour. Then at 1:15 pm, Weiser Diplomacy Center Director John Ciorciari will introduce Secretary Blinken for a conversation with Barr and Ford School students on 21st century diplomacy and global challenges.  

From the speakers' bios

Secretary Antony J. Blinken

Antony J. Blinken is the 71st U.S. Secretary of State. He was nominated by President Biden on November 23, 2020; confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 26, 2021; and sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris the following day.

Over three decades and three presidential administrations, Mr. Blinken has helped shape U.S. foreign policy to ensure it protects U.S. interests and delivers results for the American people. He served as deputy secretary of state for President Barack Obama from 2015 to 2017, and before that, as President Obama’s principal deputy national security advisor. In that role, Mr. Blinken chaired the interagency deputies committee, the main forum for hammering out the administration’s foreign policy.

During the first term of the Obama Administration, Mr. Blinken was national security advisor to then-Vice President Joe Biden. This was the continuation of a long professional relationship that stretched back to 2002, when Mr. Blinken began his six-year stint as Democratic staff director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Then-Senator Biden was the chair of that committee from 2001 to 2003 and 2007 to 2009.

During the Clinton Administration, Mr. Blinken served as a member of the National Security Council staff, including two years as the senior director for European affairs, the president’s principal advisor on the countries of Europe, the European Union, and NATO. He also spent four years as President Clinton’s chief foreign policy speechwriter, and he led the NSC’s strategic planning team.

Mr. Blinken’s public service began at the State Department. From 1993 to 1994, he was a special assistant in what was then called the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs. Now he is proud to lead the department where he got his start in government nearly 30 years ago.

Outside of government, Mr. Blinken has worked in the private sector, civil society, and journalism. He was a founder of WestExec Advisors, an international strategic consulting firm focused on geopolitics and national security. He was a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies from 2001 and 2002. Before joining government, Mr. Blinken practiced law in New York and Paris. He was also a reporter for The New Republic magazine and is the author of Ally Versus Ally: America, Europe and the Siberian Pipeline Crisis (Praeger, 1987).

Mr. Blinken attended grade school and high school in Paris, where he received a French Baccalaureat degree with high honors. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School. He and his wife Evan Ryan have two children.

Senator Chris Coons

Chris Coons has served as a U.S. Senator from Delaware since 2010. He sits on the Foreign Relations, Appropriations, Judiciary, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Ethics Committees. He is currently the chair of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds U.S. foreign assistance.

Chris has used his position on the Foreign Relations Committee to advocate for key foreign policy and national security priorities. Chris has successfully marshaled into law bills to modernize international development finance, address the root causes of global instability and extremism, and other legislation to advance American interests and values. Chris has spoken out clearly and directly in support of our global alliances and partnerships.

Chris previously worked as an attorney for a Delaware-based manufacturing company, using his legal expertise to direct regulatory and international efforts. Chris graduated from Amherst College with a BA in chemistry and political science, and earned his law degree from Yale Law School and a master's in ethics from Yale Divinity School.

About the Vandenberg Lecture Series

The Meijer Family established the Vandenberg Fund to honor U.S. Senator Arthur Vandenberg, who served the State of Michigan in the U.S. Senate from 1928-1951. Senator Vandenberg forged bipartisan support for our country's most significant and enduring foreign policies of the twentieth century, including the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, NATO and the creation of the United Nations.

Hosted by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and co-sponsored by the Weiser Diplomacy Center and U-M Democracy & Debate 2021-22. 

Thank you to our media partners at Detroit Public Television.