The Academy was founded in 1983 by Ambassadors Ellsworth Bunker and U. Alexis Johnson, who together with John J. McCloy convened a meeting to explore ways in which persons who had served in positions of major responsibility could cooperate to promote the highest standards in American diplomatic practice. They were encouraged in this effort by several of the then serving members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. With that encouragement, the Academy began a practice, drawing on the experience of its members, of providing the Committee commentary on the qualifications of those nominated by the President as ambassadors, both career and non-career, and informing the Committee of issues of particular significance in U.S. relations with the country concerned.
Today, the Academy continues its mission and is dedicated to strengthening the resources and tools America brings to managing its diplomatic challenges. It accomplishes this through outreach programs, lectures, awards, publications, and writing competitions. Through these activities, the Academy promotes an understanding of the importance of diplomacy to serving our nation and improving the practice of American foreign policy.