Peter Cunningham

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Title: Senior Advisor

Drawing upon decades of experience in public sector communications and education policy, Peter Cunningham advises clients on strategic communications and thought leadership. Most recently, Peter served as the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education. In this role, he led the Office of Communications and Outreach (OCO), and was responsible for messaging the President and Secretary's education agenda, as well as advising the Secretary on education policy development and communications. During that time, Peter managed a team over 100 and worked daily with a wide range of education stakeholders including national, regional and local press, education nonprofits and interest groups, elected officials, administrators at institutions of education, teachers, students and the general public. Peter serves as a Senior Advisor at Whiteboard Advisors.

Peter is currently president of Cunningham Communications, a Chicago firm specializing in communications focused on education, government, and economic development for public, private and non-profit clients. Peter began his career as a reporter and writer for business and general interest publications, including the Southampton Press. He went on to work for several years as a speechwriter for the Illinois attorney general's office, the Finance Committee of the Chicago City Council, and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. Peter also advised then superintendent Arne Duncan at Chicago Public Schools before joining  Secretary Duncan at the U.S. Department of Education.

Peter earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy at Duke University, and a master's degree in journalism at Columbia University. In addition to maintaining a professional career as a communications strategist, he is a guitar player with an affinity for jazz, blues and rock. His love of music is shared by his family, son Liam, daughter Sima—also musicians—and his wife, Jackie Kazarian, a Chicago-based artist.


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