Wendell L. Willkie II is an adjunct fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He is also an adjunct professor of law at New York University. His current focus is the governance of America’s public companies, the responsibilities of corporate boards, and the significance of shareholder activism and engagement.

For more than 20 years, Mr. Willkie was a member of the executive leadership of MeadWestvaco Corporation, a multinational manufacturing company. As senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary, he was responsible for all legal and government relations matters. He also had oversight of communications; safety, health, environment, and sustainability; and the company’s foundation. He was a key business leader in the company’s strategic transformation and major expansion in international markets, and he worked closely with the board and CEO to ensure the board’s effective execution of its oversight responsibilities.

In addition to his legal and corporate work, Mr. Willkie has had a distinguished career in government. He has served as an associate counsel to the president at the White House; chief of staff, counselor to the secretary of education, and general counsel at the US Department of Education; general counsel and acting deputy secretary of the US Department of Commerce; and a member of the President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

The author of many articles on corporate governance, liberal democracy, antitrust, international trade, and other public policy issues, Mr. Willkie is also the coauthor and coeditor, along with the late James R. Lilley, of “Beyond MFN: Trade with China and American Interests” (AEI Press, 1994).

Mr. Willkie has a law degree from the University of Chicago. A Rhodes Scholar, he also has a master’s degree in modern history from Oxford University and a bachelor’s degree in social studies from Harvard University.


  • New York University: Adjunct Professor of Law, 2017–present
  • Steptoe & Johnson: Of Counsel, 2015–17
  • MeadWestvaco Corporation: Senior Vice President, 1995–2015; General Counsel, 1995–2015; Secretary, 2002–15
  • President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations: Member, 2005–07
  • AEI: Fellow, Legal Policy and International Trade, 1993–95
  • US Department of Commerce: General Counsel, 1989–93; Acting Deputy Secretary, 1992–93
  • Office of the President-Elect (George H. W. Bush): Counsel, 1988–89
  • Bush-Quayle ’88: Special Counsel
  • US Department of Education: Chief of Staff and Counselor to the Secretary of Education, 1985; General Counsel, 1985–88
  • The White House: Associate Counsel to the President, 1984–85
  • National Endowment for the Humanities: General Counsel, 1982–84
  • Simpson Thacher & Bartlett: Attorney, 1978–82


J.D., University of Chicago
M.A., modern history, Oxford University, UK (Rhodes scholar)
B.A., social studies, Harvard University