Co-founder, Bipartisan Policy Center Former Majority Leader, U.S. Senate
George J. Mitchell served as US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace from January 2009 to May 2011. In 2007, he founded the Bipartisan Policy Center alongside former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, and Bob Dole.
Prior to that, he had a distinguished career in public service. He was appointed to the United States Senate in 1980 to complete the unexpired term of Senator Edmund S. Muskie, who resigned to become Secretary of State. He was elected to a full term in the Senate in 1982 and went on to an illustrious career in the Senate spanning 15 years.
In 1996, the governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland asked Senator Mitchell to chair the peace negotiations in Northern Ireland. Senator Mitchell led the negotiations for two years, work that ultimately resulted in a historic accord that ended decades of conflict. In May 1998, the agreement was overwhelmingly endorsed by voters in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. He has received numerous awards and honors recognizing his service in the peace talks. These include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor the U.S. government can give; the Philadelphia Liberty Medal; the Truman Institute Peace Prize; the German (Hesse) Peace Prize; and the United Nations (UNESCO) Peace Prize. Senator Mitchell has received honorary degrees from more than 40 colleges and universities from several countries.
While in the Senate, Senator Mitchell served on the Finance, Veterans Affairs, and Environment and Public Works committees. He led the successful 1990 reauthorization of the Clean Air Act, including new controls on acid rain toxins. He was the author of the first national oil spill prevention and cleanup law. He was instrumental in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Senator Mitchell was stationed in Berlin, Germany, as an officer in the U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence Corps from 1954 to 1956. From 1960 to 1962, he was a trial lawyer in the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. From 1962 to 1965, he served as executive assistant to Senator Muskie. In 1965, he returned to Maine where he engaged in the private practice of law in Portland until 1977. He was then appointed U.S. attorney for Maine, a position he held until 1979, when he was appointed U.S. district judge for Maine. He resigned that position in 1980 to accept his Senate appointment.
After leaving the Senate, Senator Mitchell joined the law firm Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand, joining DLA Piper US in 2003 along with many other members of that firm. He served as chairman of the board of The Walt Disney Company. He is also chancellor of The Queen’s University of Northern Ireland. He served as chairman of the International Crisis Group, as chairman of the Special Commission investigating allegations of impropriety in the bidding process for the Olympic Games, and as chairman of the National Health Care Commission. Working on a pro bono basis, Senator Mitchell was the independent overseer of the American Red Cross Liberty Disaster Relief Fund, an organization formed to help victims of the 9/11 attacks.
At the request of President Bill Clinton and Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Senator Mitchell served as chairman of an international fact-finding committee on violence in the Middle East. The committee’s recommendation, widely known as The Mitchell Report, was endorsed by the Bush Administration, the European Union, and many other governments.
Senator Mitchell received an undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College and a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.