Honorable William S. Cohen
The Cohen Group
Secretary of Defense (1997-2001)
William S. Cohen is chairman and CEO of The Cohen Group and a Senior Advisor to DLA Piper. From his very first days in Washington, DC, he was singled out as a future American leader. In 1974, during his very first term in Congress, TIME magazine named him one of "America's 200 Future Leaders," and the following year the US Junior Chamber of Commerce named him one of the "Ten Outstanding Young Men in America."
In 1978, he was propelled into the Senate, and in his first weeks there was singled out to be chairman of two powerful subcommittees, the Armed Services Committee's Seapower and Force Projection Subcommittee and the Governmental Affairs Committee's Government Oversight Subcommittee. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Aging, Secretary Cohen led efforts to improve Medicare and other health care programs. He also was a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence for a decade, serving half that time as Vice Chairman. His sustained leadership on environmental issues gave him the distinction of being the only Republican senator repeatedly endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters, while his efforts on behalf of small business and early leadership in reversing federal deficits won him awards from the National Federation of Independent Businessmen and the National Taxpayers Union. He has been frequently recognized for his expertise in international relations.
His service in the House and Senate was marked by electoral success, as well. He was undefeated in six consecutive Maine elections, winning each by wide margins. In 1996, he stunned Maine and Washington by announcing he would not seek re-election but return to private life to promote international business and a more thoughtful public discourse on national issues. He also launched the William S. Cohen Center for International Policy and Commerce at the University of Maine.
President Clinton interrupted these plans, however, when he asked Secretary Cohen to lead the Department of Defense, the first time in modern US history when a President has chosen an elected official from the other party for his cabinet. During his tenure, Secretary Cohen reversed a steady decline in defense budgets that had begun in the 1980s, modernizing the military and maintaining its readiness to fight; reversing recruitment and retention problems by enhancing pay and other benefits; and strengthening security relationships with countries around the world. Under his leadership, the US 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 more than 60 countries.
A published author of 11 works of nonfiction, fiction and poetry; a futurist with degrees in classical Latin and Greek; the son of a working-class family who rose to the highest levels in government, the Christian Science Monitor has dubbed him "a true Renaissance Man." He is also an accomplished athlete. While at Bowdoin College, he was inducted into the New England All-Star Hall of Fame. In 1987, he was named by the National Association of Basketball Coaches to the Silver Anniversary All Star Team, and in 2001, the NCAA presented him with its Theodore Roosevelt Award. Secretary Cohen is currently a member of the board of directors of CBS Corporation.
In his 31 years of public service, Secretary Cohen created a record of unparalleled accomplishment, integrity and respect, and moves ahead with unrivaled knowledge, reputation and relationships, across America and around the globe.