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William Jacobus vanden Heuvel (born April 14, 1930) is an American attorney, businessman and author, as well as a former diplomat.

William vanden Heuvel
William vanden Heuvel 2014.jpg
vanden Heuvel speaking in 2014
William Jacobus vanden Heuvel

(1930-04-14) April 14, 1930 (age 89)
Rochester, New York,
United States
OccupationBusinessman, Diplomat,
Attorney and writer
Spouse(s)Melinda Fuller vanden Heuvel
ChildrenKatrina vanden Heuvel
Wendy vanden Heuvel
Ashley von Perfall
John vanden Heuvel Pierce

He is the father of Katrina vanden Heuvel, longtime editor of The Nation magazine, and Wendy vanden Heuvel, children from his marriage to author/editor Jean Stein, the well-to-do daughter of Jules C. Stein, founder of MCA.

Early lifeEdit

Vanden Heuvel was born in a working class family in Rochester, New York, the son of a Dutch immigrant father and a Belgian immigrant mother, Alberta.[1][2][3] He attended public schools in New York. He attended Deep Springs College (Deep Springs did not "graduate" attendees at that time) and graduated from Cornell University, where he was a member of the Cornell Branch of the Telluride Association. At Cornell Law School, he was editor-in-chief of Cornell's law review. He was admitted to the New York Bar in 1952, and then joined the law firm of Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine as an Associate.[4]


An early protégé of Office of Strategic Services founder William Joseph Donovan, vanden Heuvel served at the U.S. embassy (1953–1954) in Bangkok, Thailand as Donovan's Executive Assistant. In 1958, vanden Heuvel served as Counsel to New York State Governor W. Averell Harriman.

In 1962, he became U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy's assistant, and was involved in Kennedy's 1964 and 1968 political campaigns. As special assistant to Attorney General Kennedy, vanden Heuvel played the key role in court, orchestrating the desegregation of the Prince Edward County school system, which expanded the scope of the landmark decision, Brown v. Board of Education.[5]

In 1965, he joined Stroock & Stroock & Lavan as Senior Partner where he practiced international and corporate law. He is currently Senior Counsel to the firm.

In the 1970s, vanden Heuvel, as Chairman of the New York City Board of Corrections, led a campaign to investigate conditions in the city's prison system. He has had a lifelong involvement in the reform of the criminal justice system.

He served as U.S. Ambassador to the European office of the United Nations in Geneva (1977–79)[6] and United States Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations (1979–1981) during the Jimmy Carter Administration.[7]

Vanden Heuvel has held directorships in a number of public companies. They include: the U.S. Banknote Corporation, Time Warner, Inc., and the North Aegean Petroleum company, and others. Since 1984, he has been a Senior Advisor to the investment banking firm Allen & Company.[8]

Currently he is Chairman of the American Austrian Foundation[9] and Co-chairman of the Council of American Ambassadors. Since 1984, vanden Heuvel has been Chairman of Roosevelt Institute and a current member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[10] He is a Governor and former Chairman of the United Nations Association of the United States of America, and has written extensively on the United Nations and American foreign policy.[11] He is also a member of Collegium International, an organization of leaders with political, scientific, and ethical expertise whose goal is to provide new approaches in overcoming the obstacles in the way of a peaceful, socially just and an economically sustainable world. He serves as an honorary chairman of The OSS Society.

Political campaignsEdit

In 1960, Vanden Heuvel ran as a Democrat in the New York City's then 17th Congressional District, against John V. Lindsay, the incumbent Republican Representative.[12] The 17th district at that time was strongly identified with the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which has been often referred to as the "Silk Stocking" district. Lindsay handily won the highly contested race by 80,000 votes to Vanden Heuvel's 54,000.[13]

In June 1973, Vanden Heuvel challenged Frank Hogan in the Democratic Primary for the position of Manhattan District Attorney. Hogan had served for 32 years in the position and easily won the Primary, assuring Hogan victory in the General Election in November, with the support of all the political parties.[14][15]


  • vanden Heuvel, William, editor. The Future of Freedom in Russia, Templeton Foundation Press (2000), ISBN 1-890151-43-2.
  • vanden Heuvel, William. On his own: Robert F. Kennedy, 1964–1968, Doubleday (1970), ASIN B0006DXOGI.
  • vanden Heuvel, William "Hope and History, A Memoir of Tumultuous Times" Cornell University Press (2019)


  1. ^ The Village Voice: "Vanden Heuvel: Horatio Alger in Upper Bohemia" October 27, 1960
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ New York Times Obituary: "MRS. VANDEN HEUVEL" March 28, 1974
  4. ^ NNDB/Soylent Communications web page.
  5. ^ Eleanor Roosevelt Papers web site.
  6. ^ "Representatives of the U.S.A. to the European Office of the United Nations (Geneva)". United States Department of State. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  7. ^ John F. Kennedy Library National Archives web site.
  8. ^ Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute web page.
  9. ^ [2] web site.
  10. ^
  11. ^ American Austrian Foundation web site.
  12. ^ Nichols, Mary Perot; Goddard, J.R. (October 27, 1960). "Horatio Alger in Upper Bohemia" (Vol. VI, No.1). The Village Voice. p. 13. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  13. ^ Dales, Douglas (November 9, 1960). "Lindsay and Ryan win House Races" (CX, N0.37, 545, 7AM EXTRA). The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  14. ^ Kramer, Michael (May 7, 1973). "Getting Hogan's Goat". New York Magazine. p. 13. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  15. ^ "Hogan, District Attorney 32 Years, Dies". The New York Times. April 3, 1974. pp. 1, 32. Retrieved October 28, 2014.

External linksEdit