Co-Founder; Former Senate Majority Leader
George J. Mitchell is a BPC co-founder and co-chair of its Housing Commission. He served as a senator from Maine from 1980 until 1995, and as the Senate majority leader from 1989 until 1995. While in the Senate, 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, led the Senate to passage of the nation’s first child care bill, was principal author of the low-income housing tax credit program, and was instrumental in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
After leaving the Senate, Mitchell was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the nation’s highest civilian award—for his role in negotiating a peace agreement in Northern Ireland.
Mitchell served 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 Justice Department in Washington, D.C. From 1962 to 1965, he served as executive assistant to Senator Edmund S. 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 appointment to the Senate.
He served as chairman of the global board of the law firm DLA Piper; chairman of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company; a member of the board of the Boston Red Sox; and a director of several companies.
In 2008, TIME magazine named Mitchell one of the 100 most influential persons in the world.
He is the author of four books. With his colleague, Senator William S. Cohen of Maine, he wrote Men of Zeal, describing the Iran-Contra investigation. In 1990, Mitchell wrote World on Fire, describing the threat of the greenhouse effect and recommending steps to curb it. His next book, published in 1997, was Not For America Alone: The Triumph of Democracy and The Fall of Communism. In 1999, Mitchell wrote Making Peace, an account of his experience in Northern Ireland.
Mitchell received an undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College and a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.