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Former publisher of Forbes joins Thunderbird faculty

Jeffrey M. Cunningham brings 'Iconic Voices' interview series to the classroom

Thunderbird's Jeff Cunningham with UN Ambassador Governor Nikki Haley

Professor Jeff Cunningham interviewing former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who now serves as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

January 25, 2017

Jeffrey M. Cunningham, the former publisher of Forbes magazine and board director of numerous Fortune 500 companies, has joined the faculty at Thunderbird School of Global Management as a professor of practice in global leadership. Thunderbird is a unit of the Arizona State University Knowledge Enterprise.

Cunningham brings a wealth of both academic and professional experience at the highest levels of global business to his role at Thunderbird, and will be driving many of the school’s new offerings focused on executive development at the C-suite, board director and CEO level.

In addition to his former role at Forbes magazine, Cunningham’s most prestigious thought-leadership work has culminated in his series of candid interviews with global business leaders for the YouTube channel, “Iconic Voices with Jeff Cunningham.” Past Iconic Voices interviewees have included Warren Buffet, Jeffrey Immelt, Gen. David Petreaus, Exxon board member Reatha Clark King, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (now UN Ambassador). Now coproduced with Thunderbird, Cunningham plans to add a series of interviews with the school’s global student body and high-profile alumni.

“Jeff is an outstanding addition to our team,” said Allen Morrison, Thunderbird CEO and director general. “We look forward to expanding our C-suite executive programs with his acumen and leadership.”

Cunningham’s other areas of expertise include corporate governance, digital media and venture capital startups. In that regard, Cunningham was the founder of Directorship Magazine, president of internet incubator CMGI, VP of Bloomberg BusinessWeek and CEO of several internet companies including, CareerTrack and Tesla Motors’ founder Elon Musk’s first startup, He also served as a board director or chairman of Data General, Sapient, Schindler Holdings, EXLservice, The and Bankrate. Cunningham’s extensive leadership experience is invaluable as Thunderbird continues to focus on preparing today’s executives for leading through the challenges of the globalized economy.

“Jeff Cunningham’s experience in boardrooms, with global leaders, and in communications and high-quality journalism bring Thunderbird something that is fresh and new, while representing precisely the real-world perspective that sets apart our faculty members,” Morrison said. “We are very happy to have him on board. Our executive education and lifelong learning students will benefit from his perspective, and we know that new initiatives and opportunities will come from this relationship.”  

Among Cunningham’s first academic ventures with Thunderbird is the innovative new four-course executive development program, “Dynamic Crisis Management.” Cunningham, who helped develop the program, teaches two of the four courses: “Leading Executive Crisis Communications” and “Strategizing for Crisis Leadership.” The first courses in the program are slated for March 2017.

Cunningham is also set to conceptualize and teach in Thunderbird leadership programs for global CEOs, organize global leadership conferences for senior executives, and develop instruments to assess the characteristics and mindsets of the world’s most effective global leaders.

“Jeff is an outstanding leader and an engaging professor. It’s an honor to have him join our faculty,” said Dawn Feldman, executive director and COO of Thunderbird Executive Education. “Not only will he bring a personal perspective to our executive development programs, but he will add a whole new dimension to Thunderbird’s thought leadership work with his extensive background in publishing and multimedia.”

Cunningham, who is also joining the faculty at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, obtained his degree from SUNY Binghamton with Honors in English, and from the Financial Executives Program at Wharton School in Philadelphia. He currently serves as a trustee for the McCain Institute, and has served as a special adviser to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.

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