Ambassador Herman J. Cohen (Ret)

                       Courtesy U.S. Department of State (1977)

                       Courtesy U.S. Department of State (1977)

As an ambassador, advisor to Presidents, and a 38-year veteran of the Foreign Service, Ambassador Herman J. Cohen has devoted his entire professional career to African and European affairs.

Over the years, Cohen grew to know every first-generation African leader – from Mandela, to Mobutu, to Moammar Gaddafi.

During his tenure as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during the first Bush Administration, and through his role at the NSC in the Reagan White House, Cohen worked to bring about peaceful transitions of power in South Africa and Namibia, and helped to end conflicts in Angola, Ethiopia, and Mozambique.

Current Engagements

  • President and CEO, Cohen and Woods International (1994-present)
  • Board of Directors, Hyperdynamics Oil and Gas (2009-present)
  • Consultant on Africa, ContourGlobal Electric Power (2008-present)

Previous Experience

  • Professorial lecturer, Africa Studies, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (1998-2010)
  • Senior Advisor, Global Coalition for Africa (1993-1998)
  • Assistant Secretary of State for Africa (1989-1993)
  • Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Africa, National Security Council (1987-1989)
  • Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (1980-1984)
  • U.S. Ambassador to Senegal, Gambia (1977-1980)
  • Director for Central African Affairs (Department of State) (1969-1974)
  • Chief of Mission, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (1968-1969)


  • Career Ambassador, U.S. Foreign Service
  • French Legion of Honor
  • Belgian Order of Leopold II
  • 2000 Douglas Dillon Award for Best Writing On Diplomatic Practice
  • Townsend Harris Award for Outstanding Career Achievement, CCNY Alumni Association

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