Former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell (D-Maine), nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating the “Good Friday” peace accord in Northern Ireland, has accepted an invitation from Kennedy School Dean Joseph S. Nye Jr. to address graduates of the Kennedy School on Wednesday, June 5. Mitchell’s speech will begin at 10 a.m. in the ARCO Forum.
Mitchell began his career in public service as an officer in the U.S. Counter-Intelligence Corps shortly after graduating from Bowdoin College in 1954. After earning a law degree from Georgetown University in 1960, Mitchell served as a trial lawyer in the U.S. Justice Department. From 1962 to 1965 he worked as executive assistant to Maine Sen. Edmund S. Muskie. Later he worked as a lawyer in private practice.
In 1977, Mitchell was appointed U.S. Attorney for Maine. Two years later, he was appointed U.S. District Judge for Maine, and in 1980 he was appointed to complete the unexpired term of Muskie. Mitchell was elected to a full term in the senate in 1982. He was re-elected in 1988 and shortly thereafter was named Senate Majority Leader.
During his time in the senate, Mitchell worked on legislation focusing on Medicare reform, welfare reform, and tax fairness. He also fought for the nation’s first child-care bill, and was one of the leaders in the 1990 effort to reauthorize the Clean Air Act. Mitchell also played a key role in helping pass the Americans with Disabilities Act.
After leaving Congress, Mitchell was named chair of the peace negotiations in Northern Ireland and helped craft the accord that ended decades of fighting in the region, which was endorsed by the voters of both Ireland and Northern Ireland in May 1998. Mitchell also chaired an international commission that crafted a Middle East peace plan in 2001. A lifelong baseball fan, Mitchell is also a minority owner of the Boston Red Sox.
Mitchell’s address is sponsored by the Kennedy School of Government as part of Commencement Week activities.